From man-caves to she-sheds, having your own personal space is very of the moment. And it doesn’t have to be an entire room! Sacred space can simply be a table showcasing meaningful items, fresh flowers and a scented candle or a corner of a room with perfect lighting, beautiful art, and a favorite chair. Today we turn to an expert in creating unique spaces (and one of my favorite interior designers) Jillian O’Neill, for her thoughts on personal, sacred spaces.
I love Jillian’s style. She creatively blends fresh and timeless furnishings with color, texture, scale and functionality in her design projects. She has a love of textiles and fashion thanks to a post-college modeling career. Her work has been featured in Elle Decor, Modern Luxury, Luxe Interiors and LX/TV. Here’s Jillian on personal retreats and sacred spaces and how to create your own. ♥ Elaine
E: Why is it important for women to have their own personal retreat?
J: We are all so “busy.” Exclaiming that “I’m busy, busy, busy” is like wearing a badge of honor. Recently, there has been a pull the other way — the “slow down” movement — but I embrace my schedule because I am doing things I love! Time with my family, work, travel, friends — how can I possibly complain about being “too busy” with such luxuries? I wouldn’t want to live any other way. With this being said, I make sure to balance my lifestyle with nights sitting quietly and chatting with my husband or diving into a book. Or I take an afternoon off to practice yoga or have coffee with a good friend. All of this can be done in a small space, in a short amount of time, with very little cost so it is achievable (and I’ll just go ahead and say necessary) for everyone.
E: What are your top tips for creating a sacred space?
J: There is a talented color theorist here in Houston, Sara Eliason, and she maintains that everyone has many colors they love and there are hundreds of colors that can work for a space. However, there are only a few colors you can be happy living with and those are what create a successful room. I believe this to be 100% true. For me, purple is my “sacred” color — it makes me happy every time I use it in a room. I use it in textiles, sometimes even paint, definitely in art. Take time to think about spaces you’ve spent time in (hotels, restaurants, etc). What is the palette that makes you happy or most comfortable? What are the textures, sounds and scents? Now, how can you bring these elements to the nook you’ve found for yourself at home?
E: How can I make my space personal to me?
J: Be sure to make this space useful. How would you like this area to function? Do you need a space for yoga, to journal and read, or to catch up on your DVR with a glass of wine? All of those things take just a small corner of a room, a cozy chair, an end table and a few lamps and you have a great start. Add personal elements such as a throw rug (Crisp Interiors has a beautiful selection), pillows (check out Willa Skye), items of beauty (art, photos, flowers) and you are just about set! This area does not have to be large. In fact, my own first floor is about to be restructured to include a small private space off my bedroom that will be just 8’ x 10’. I can’t wait to use it for sketching off hours, reading and yoga.
E: What elements can I add to make my space calm and tranquil?
J: Lighting and scents will be the key aspects here. Lighting in your chosen space (and every space) should come from all levels: ceiling, eye level, table level and
occasionally even floor level. Using these together will leave you energized, while just using your table lamp/task lamp and a candle is perfect for relaxing with a book. As for scents, I thought I’d never find another candle I like as much as Slatkin’s Bamboo and Jasmine. In fact, when I found out it was discontinued I sent my brother all over Chicago buying up whatever stores had left. (He must have owed me a big favor that I’m forgetting now!) Thankfully, I found a new love in Lafco so I buy those regularly and change them with the season.