Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind and heart.
I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of home and sometimes technical information.
One of the fundamental human needs that must be satisfied is feeling good at home. History gave us plenty examples of how people found domestic well-being through comfortable, multifunctional furniture and decorations, but comfort and décor are not the same thing. Décor is the result of what fashion dictates from one year to another or from decade to decade. We are still using Queen Ann style chairs with cabriolet legs because this style chairs falls into the classic style, but when fashion dictated to leave the straight legs behind for the curvy and more feminine chairs, was a fashion fad that was well received and lasted more than third years.
A smoking room is no longer in fashion because it’s not a good custom to smoke in people’s face or fill the rooms with smoke smell, therefore there are no smoking rooms in today’s homes. The same is for library rooms, people still read today but they read on-line and mostly with reading devices, thus there is no more need to keep shelves full of books, or design a reading room around books, magical lights and comfortable seats. I really miss to design library rooms!
Smoking room and library rooms represented the comfort of a behavior in a particular era, the content of these rooms, colors and style of a décor followed the fashion of the time.
In architecture or in home décor, often we see the return of a style that we call revival, such as Tudor revival, Neo Classic revival or Gothic revival, just to name a few. Revival style is pretentious and artificial. It is only limited to the style of architectural details or the style of furniture. It has nothing to do with the behavior that characterized those historic periods. Every era has seen modern improvement in domesticity comfort with technology available at any given moment.
We went from candlelight to electric light, from sleeping the entire family in one room with no privacy and often sleeping in one large bed, to kids rooms and parents’ rooms each with its own bathroom. Once the comfort of a home has been improved with modern technologies it is no possible to go back in time to sit on hard chairs without padding, washing clothes by hands or sleeping all in one room.
The reason for reviving a style, perhaps is the lack of traditions and the desire to experience a nostalgic time. I like the Belle Époque style, but I would not like to live in that time when women swept the streets with their long dresses and horse & carriage was the only transportation for those who could afford it, the rest of the people went on foot. We cannot copy the past and transfer it to our life of today, we can only appreciate it by surrounding ourselves with a few traditional ornaments as an acceptable alternative.
Domestic comfort is found in feeling of privacy, intimacy, atmosphere of coziness and accommodating furniture. What we have adopted from the past is the concept of privacy when rooms were small, appropriately sized windows, built-in furniture and natural material. In early 1900 with the advent of industrialization, the incorporation of homes appliances and modern devices made life more convenient without sacrificing a beautiful décor. This practice goes on today with more advanced sophisticated electronics hidden in strategic places. Most homes of today don’t look industrialized at all and we feel very comfortable using a remote control to lower curtains, turn lights off and get the movie started all with one click.
However, the comfort and coziness of a home doesn’t come from today’s fashion of making oversize spaces, open floor plans and super high ceilings. The human soul gets lost in these impersonal spaces. To coordinate all the activities of a family to work in harmony in large spaces is a real challenge and it take a lot more energy to keep large spaces warm. Kitchen and bath counters should be made in different heights to accommodate the average height of people living in the house and laundry machines should not be placed in the bathroom.
Cooking is an intense and tiring work, kitchens should have a minimal walking space between the stove and the rest of appliances with comfortable flooring.
Bathrooms are rooms for relaxation through experiencing a soothing bath with music, suffuse lights, scents and books without seen dirty clothes and clutter in plain view. Undressing room, once called boudoir serves the purpose of taking off clothes, eliminating the need of large bathroom floor plan and while one person is bathing, the other person can do small ablutions in the undressing room without waiting.
These are some examples that will provide personal comfort.
Comfort is a very subjective thought. It really involves human physiology and how we perceive our comfort. Ergonomic chairs, versus artistic chairs, bright light versus ambient light, natural material versus man-made inexpensive and easy to care material, oversize furniture versus human size furniture, the list can go on forever. Comfort doesn’t mean the same thing for all the people. Once we have abolished the feeling of discomfort, then we have achieved Comfort and only a person who knows his/her needs will know how to produce real comfort, not following the style of today that dictates to decorate our home in a certain way.
Should you need a technical eye to pull together a comfortable décor, I am here to help. Ciao.
Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is a trained Italian Interior Designer in business since 1990. Being Italian born and raised, Classicism, stylish and timeless designs have influenced Valentina’s design work. She will create your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away your comfort. She loves to restore old homes, historic dwellings and she focuses on remodeling. Author of three books, all available on