Design As Escapism

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Interior designer and author Nate Berkus has made a career of transforming peoples’ living spaces into private oases. But as millennials join the ranks of home buyers, with their obsessive interest in self-care, mindfulness and the Internet, the idea of design as escapism is expanding.

People are relying more on their home environments to boost their moods and overall sense of well-being. And in today’s heated climate, optimising your home for happiness and creating a safe space to decompress and disconnect from work, politics and technology are not only valued but seemingly necessary.

“The best interiors are the interiors where people . . . shut out all of the noise and really take a great, careful assessment of what made them feel the best in their spaces,” Berkus told The Washington Post. “The first question everyone should ask themselves before launching any design project whatsoever is, ‘What makes you feel good in your home?’ “

One way Berkus avoids pitfalls is by selecting furnishings that have “age and patina” and “evoke a sense of history, permanence and use.” For example, displaying treasured travel souvenirs or incorporating beloved vintage and antique furniture might fit the bill.

When you’re embarking on a renovation or redesign, ask yourself, ‘What choices can I make to promote a feeling of sanctity?’

“When you’re embarking on a renovation or redesign, ask yourself, ‘What choices can I make to promote a feeling of sanctity?’ ” Berkus said. He also recommends incorporating “natural elements,” “timeworn finishes” and “architectural elements salvaged from old buildings” to add layers of depth and character.

Imperfection Embraced

Many of his clients are devoting spaces in their homes to “wellness, tranquility and serenity.” His celebrity patrons, including his friend Oprah Winfrey, often request spaces for silence and reflection such as craft corners, reading nooks, and yoga, prayer and meditation rooms.

Master bathrooms have also become a common place of respite, with trends toward personalization and spa-inspired amenities. “Bathrooms have become even more sumptuous,” Berkus said.

For homeowners on a budget, an easy way to carve out a slice of bathroom serenity is with candles, fresh flowers, relaxing music and recessed lighting. Berkus also notes a growing trend toward upholstered bathroom furniture such as small, quilted chaises and tufted settees next to the bathtub, to add another tier of warmth and relaxation.

The idea of design as escapism is expanding.

Visual social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest can help homeowners curate their interests, hone their design aesthetic and create a home environment that reflects their personality and tastes, Berkus said.

Text Megan Mcdonough Photography TC Studios/Delta Faucet Pixabay