Heart of the Home

Cote Maisons Kitchen as seen on l&l life - linenlavenderlife.com

In my own design work and a common theme you will notice throughout l&l is that I gravitate towards neutral color schemes and rooms that often have unadorned walls—save for beautiful light fixtures or the beauty of the stone or plaster finish. I prefer very subtle pattern (if any), opting for tone-on-tone more often than many colors, particularly for the fixed or main features of the design.chandelier, rustic wood beam - image via cote sud aout-sept 2003 - as seen on linenlavnederlife com

I love the contrast of, say, a gleaming industrial pendant juxtaposed with an ancient stone wall or a bejeweled chandelier hung over an antique farm table as the drama in the space.

angel hair fern image via hildrethlane as seen on linenlavenderlife com

Accent colors and additional textures are infused into the room by the use of natural elements such as flowers and plants and things I use every day like a dark wood bowl of sunny lemons or a glass vase filled with lush, aromatic basil sitting on the counter.

002  kitchen as seen on l&l life - linenlavenderlife.com

It occurred to me that I prefer a neutral home environment for the same reason a chef prefers a white plate—the better to showcase the colors and textures of her creations. For me, the calming neutral rooms and unadorned walls act as a beautiful backdrop to showcase the people living there and to highlight the essential elements of life that will ultimately add vibrancy to that space.

003 Cote Ouest, Avr-Mai2006, white plate as seen on l&l life - linenlavenderlife.com

A basic but powerful question to ask in design is:

Have I left room for living?

showhome.nl as seen on linenalavenderlife.com

This may seem overly simplistic, but it can be an interesting concept to think about:

When you step back to assess a room or area of your home, you are not seeing yourself as part of the picture. —And, most likely, we’ve shooed out anyone else who may have been there, too!

Usually, when we analyze a space and try to determine whether we have “enough” in the space, we are referring to the furniture placement, the artwork and all the other objects that make up a room’s decor. However, in order to get an accurate picture of the room as a whole, we need to envision the inhabitants there, as well.
collage created by L for l&l life - all via pinterest - as seen on linenlavenderlife com

Not only do we interject our physical presence—including the way we look and the clothes we wear—we also impart our personality and energy each time we enter a room. All of this is sensed by us and “takes up space” in the room—whether we are aware of it on a conscious level or not—adding to how we perceive the room and how we feel there.

image via David Prince as seen on linenlavenderlife com

In art and design, we refer to negative and positive space. In a room, on a wall, in the pattern of a fabric, the negative space refers to the blank areas and the positive to the filled/occupied areas. So assess a room this way and ask yourself:

  • Have I left enough room in my design for the expression of the people living here?
  • Will they feel uplifted and inspired in this space or overwhelmed and secondary to the “design” in the space?

—In the simplest of terms:

Is there enough negative space for a positive experience?(!)

carved wood mirror, minimalist bath design via flickr - as seen on linenlavenderlife com

Editing is key in a successful design and once you remember to visualize the people in the space and all the items essential for their wellbeing, you may realize that you don’t need to purchase as many purely “decorative” objects as you originally thought.

image via Bungalow Classic tumblr - as seen on linenlavenderlife com

What is wonderful about this is that many of the items essential in day-to-day living (necessities you already buy) can be as beautiful as they are serviceable—functioning as the art and accents in the room. Not only is this a boon to your budget; it generates a life well-lived, every day.

image via Freshfarmhouse tumblr as seen on linenlavenderlife com

The kitchen, the heart of the home for most of us, has many opportunities for this.

Bluestone sink image via 't achterhuis - as seen on linenlavenderlife com

There is an amazing selection of color and texture in the array of fruits, vegetables and herbs available to us—items you most likely have on your grocery list already. All it takes is a little thoughtful planning to store and display them artfully until you are ready to use them.

l&l at home - green apples on wood table - image by L for l&l life, linenlavenderlife.com

For instance, I frequently buy bright green Granny Smith apples and display them in a bowl or tray on my kitchen table. —What could be more simple yet add so much color and sculptural interest? The added benefit is that the display evokes thoughts of health and wellbeing and an unspoken reminder for a nutritious snack.  Of course, they could be placed anywhere, not just relegated to the kitchen only.  
Terrace by Laurie Steichen - as seen on linenlavenderlife com
Apples, grapes, oranges. . . in a guest room or on an entry or coffee table are a cheerful, welcoming gesture.  And, of course, plants add vibrancy and wellbeing to every living space.
kitchen fieplace - image via - -  as seen on linenlavenderlife com
Some of my favorite rooms I’ve shared throughout l&l may seem a bit austere to some—and I agree that many times a room may be set-up for artistic purposes more than actual living—but by now, you know that I’m seeing those unadorned walls as a beautiful backdrop to the essential elements of life that will be part of the whole.

I see the plants, flowers, food, books, friends, family, pets—all the interest and vibrancy of life lived well.

French Home by Josephine Ryan as seen on linenlavenderlife com 
To be clear,  I very much appreciate art and I have several pieces in my home I love, but I always leave more walls bare than not.
Have you ever noticed a common concern of many is to “finish” a space as quickly as possible?
How often have we heard—(or even found ourselves saying)—“I need to find something for that wall!”—lamenting as thought it is the worst situation possible; a problem and something to be taken care of at the earliest opportunity.
When we think this way (in our haste to “fill a space”), we often settle for something “just to get by” or to “get the task accomplished” rather than something we’ve taken time to discover—something that brings us joy to have in our home, something that enriches our life in some way.
Here I suggest something radical to many:  Not only waiting to find something you really love—I suggest you consider the value of the blank wall remaining just as it is.
Those blank walls and uncluttered, pared-down spaces in our homes hold a valuable bit of respite for us—if we allow them to do their job (!)
 glass and iron doors - weathered bench - image via Elle Decor Italia - as seen on linenlavenderlife com
So grab an apple and sit a spell with your unadorned wall.
You may very well find what you really needed has been in front of you all along.

LeAnn Signature 01

Photo credits in order of appearance:

1. Côté  Maison; 2. Côté Sud Aout-Sept 2003; 3. Hildreth Lane; 4. unknown;  5. Côté Ouest, Avr-Mai 2006; 6. Showhome.nl; 7. Collage via pinterest; 8. David Price;  9. flickr; 10. Bungalow Classic Tumblr; 11. Fresh Farmhouse Tumblr; 12. t’ achterhuis; 13. image by L, l&l at home;  14. Laurie Steichen; 15. fireplace via t’ achterhuis; 16. French Home by Josephine Ryan; 17. Elle Decor Italia 

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