When I was about 10 years old my class went on a field trip to Trinity Church in Boston. When I walked through the huge arched doors and looked up I vividly remember the hair standing up on the back of my neck…and then I started to cry. I had no idea why this was happening and I was so embarrassed trying to hide my tears from my teacher and the other kids. I now know this experience was the first out of many more to come where I was simply overwhelmed by the beauty and power of a space. It happened while visiting cathedrals in Europe, grand historic homes, even art museums. I’ll wander around with the other tourists trying my best to act completely normal, all the while trying to hold back tears. It’s still embarrassing but it’s out of my control.
Not that long ago I had a similar experience much closer to home. My husband and I attended a memorial service for a special friend who had quite suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Her family were long time members of the Sconset tennis club on Nantucket, known as “The Casino”. Our friend spent all her Summers there, worked there as a teen and then as a manager as an adult. I’m not sure what I was expecting but certainly not this.
After a bit a research I found out The Casino was built in 1899 as a “hall of amusement” by John Coffin. From what little history I could gather, the Casino was later remodeled in 1923 by architect Frederick Hill of NY. Hills elaborate use of painted latticework on the ceilings and walls was influenced and resembled the famous Newport Casino. Being in this space while paying honor to our friend was a very powerful and emotional experience (to say the least).
Decorators and designers understand and witness the emotion that beautiful design can bring . Many of us have experienced clients bursting into tears of joy when they see their newly designed room for the first time. I believe we should all feel emotional beauty about our home, yet in my experience so few do. Many of the homes I visit have too much clutter, or the homeowner is hanging onto furniture or artwork they don’t like out of family obligation or they have rooms that don’t function or enhance the family’s current life style.
I have been on a mission in my own home to strive for emotional beauty. It is certainly a process but over the past few years I have given myself “permission” to let go of family heirlooms that do not enrich my life. I have sold and donated furniture that was “very expensive” but is no longer my style. I have painted walls with colors that I love even though they are not “in”. I let go of accessories that I didn’t love yet felt obligated to keep because they were given as gifts. The more I let go of, the better I feel.
After our friend passed away I was reminded yet once again that life is short. I decided right then and there, I will only live with what I love and create a home that brings value to my life and that of my family. Maybe one day I too will feel like crying when I walk through my own door.
How about you? Do you experience emotional beauty? Have you ever cried when you walked into a space? Most importantly, are you living with things that do not serve or enrich your life? Let me know, I would love to hear from you.