Beth had a beautiful one bedroom apartment on Riverside Drive in the northern part of Manhattan. With windows facing the Hudson River and generously proportioned rooms, there was no reason why it should be anything less than impressive, but it wasn't. When Beth called me, she said her apartment felt "unfinished" and "blah." She had moved in five years earlier and had all the furniture she needed, but something was wrong. When we got to talking an interesting story came out.
When she moved in, she was single and didn't care too much about her apartment. In this way, Beth was a typical cool person. She just had wanted her apartment to "work." Now, she felt differently. She had been buying colorful clothes for the past year and her whole wardrobe was changing. Now, she wanted her home to be more colorful, AND she wanted it to be finished.
Beth was also in love. She had just starting dating a new man and her life and emotions were beginning to flow again after a long dry spell. Compared to her emotional life right now, her apartment was stuck in the past. Though it had great bones and breathing, it was a white box with beige furniture, light brown wood floors and not much on the walls. There was no color anywhere. It had no heart.
Over the next two months, with colors and fabric that came from Beth's wardrobe, she systematically injected color throughout the apartment. Starting with the floor, she refinished it and stained it a dark mahogany. This grounded and warmed each room. The walls received new coats of soft off-white paint which warmed them up considerably. She had the couch and chairs recovered in bright colors that stood out against the off-white walls and dark floor. The apartment came to life.
As Beth put color into her home, she was feeding the heart flow in her life, and it continued to grow stronger and stronger. And that man she was dating? He would eventually become her husband.
The Heart element is a tricky thing to define as it refers to the emotional life of your home. When considering the heart of your home, the best way to understand and work with it is to first think about which elements give it passion. Elements that form style, such as color, shape, texture and even scent affect us immediately and consciously when we walk into a room. If an apartment is well arranged, it will be comfortable, but if it has these four elements, it can be beautiful as well.
A room stirs our emotions by leading our attention to a few strong elements, while the rest sit quietly in the background. Successful style is all about dramatic touches used sparingly. Most of the elements of a room should go practically unnoticed at first glance, while a few play a starring role, such as a vase of flowers, brightly colored lampshades or a commanding piece of art. If you have too many things jostling for attention, your home will be too busy and over stimulated, but if you don't have any, your home will lack pizzazz.