Intentional Design — Creating spaces with meaning, hope, daily inspiration and a sense of calm can bring a grounding inner stillness to the daily grind. You deserve to feel whole, cared for and loved. Intentional Design is a tool to create an environment that natures this need that we all share on some level. It’s like gifting yourself with a daily hug.
With all the time we’ve spent in our homes the last couple years, many of us have become keen on improving our environments. By becoming aware of how our spaces make us feel is our first trigger to love it or let it go. And when I say it, I mean those items we’ve been dragging around for years. Do they make sense to us today? Do they represent where we want to be going? Do they uplift on a daily basis?
Mindfulness can live in every aspect of our lives. Beauty and vanity don’t necessarily need to be evils. Even the Creator enjoys surrounding Itself with beauty.
Intentional Design is a journey to use objects, places of gather and soul to affect and direct your mood and actions towards the direction you want to be facing. Intentional Design is purposefully using the elements of interior design like use your life goals, spatial layout to influence gathering hubs, ritual and your personal style to influence your mood and behavior.
It makes it less about creating just a pretty space. A home where friends can sit, laugh, tell stories and lift one another up is a whole different product than a “perfect” home. Have you ever been in a home that looked flawless but lacked soul? For some reason you weren’t inspired to be there for long?
In my NYC days, I had many clients with homes like this. There was an odd sense of silence in their spaces. I didn’t know why at the time. I was working too hard to try and get one of my own.
You’ve probably even met people with a similar vibe. Ralph Waldo Emerson said - Who you are is speaking so loudly that I can't hear a word you're saying. Is it possible you’re not called to know these individuals because they don’t know themselves or are lost on their journey? We’ve all been there. No judgement. Other times, you meet a person and you immediately feel safe, want to know them and be close to them. Your home can be like this too.
When people come over, they won’t want to leave. They might say - it feels so good in here. It’s because YOU are in your home. You’ve brought your essence into the environment and it feels authentic. Real. Homes like this are built from the efforts it took to consider who the owner is and what has significance to them. It’s their personal expression and we feel get the sense we know them better. Just as we can impact the world with our presence, a home can soothe the soul and all of the souls that enter.
Being deliberate about your goals is the first step. Are you the social type? Then create spaces where folks can gather. Are you more of a homebody? Good for you. Then create a space that you adore, that supports your hobbies and passions. A house that inspires you daily so when you’re in it, you’re truly at home.
The Potential of Intentional Design
Christine Martin, founder and lead designer of The Good Abode says - As sensory beings, our environments directly impact us. Our moods, behaviors, and overall health are influenced by how we experience a space.
There are a number of elements that lend to intentional design. By addressing color, light, space, and nature, we can bring about desired energetic results into our homes.
Wanting to feel inspired to create? Hoping to magnetize abundance? Needing to reduce stress and relax? Looking to enhance sensuality in your life?
All of these things can be attained through intentional interior design.
Here are five ways to get started.
1. Decide on a few key goals you’d like to achieve in your life.
Where would you like to be in five years, ten years and beyond? Is there a place you’d like to travel to, retire to or a second home you’d like to own?
Bring in elements, art or found objects that represent this future place. Is it a beach house? Then prominently place a large coral on a shelf, for example. Add spot or shelf lighting to the beautiful coral to enhance it’s presence. Adding light to your goals unconsciously illuminates your desires so they remain in the forefront of your mind rather than hidden in the dark.
Are you married and want to stay that way? Choose prints to place tastefully in your home that shows the love between you. Maybe a moment where you’re both caught laughing or even family photos that aren’t so perfectly staged but are real life moments of joy.
Do you aspire to a certain financial life? Bring in elements of this future life to remind you daily to achieve your career goals. This could show up, and only you know what’s right for you, by a picture wall of all the places you’d like to travel to. Or a set of beautiful glasses placed in your bar area or spend a few extra dollars on those sofa pillows to add a sense of elegance to your environment.
Give yourself the gift of sprinkling your future into your now.
2. Handcrafted and natural elements.
I personally love CB2. However, a home with only new items can feel hollow. Whether it’s your own art, framing a child’s drawing or bringing in artisanal finds from flea markets, travels, consignment shops or your local farmer’s market. Christen your home with objects made by other’s hands to bring humanity and life to a space.
Marrying artisanal finds from places you’d like to visit are small daily reminders to get there. Etsy is your friend for one of a kind or small run items that are unique to your style. If it makes you happy, reflective, dreamy then you know you’re on the right path.
3. Gather - create spaces that inspire connectivity.
Community brings a sense of peace. In today’s times we underestimate this powerful tool. Surrounding ourselves with loved ones that truly care for us is vital to human mental health. There was a time when it was essential to survival. Today, not so much, as we can get everything we need through our own efforts. But the DNA is still programmed with this need as times have changed faster than our programming.
Soulventure.com says - The importance of finding your tribe shouldn’t be underestimated. A tribe harbors an environment for generating new ideas for work and life while also fostering a sense of community which is vital for a healthy productive life. Groups can provide a sense of purpose, a reason to interact with others and even provide health and wellbeing benefits.
Even you lone warriors need others. The doses may be smaller but the need still exists.
Adding spaces to your home that nurture this desire helps build these bonds at a deeper level. It may be a fire pit in your yard where loved ones can tell stories, gather in a circle, a sacred shape for uniting community. Circles build trust, positive feelings, and a sense of belonging.
The Center for Restorative Process states - We feel connected to other people when we sense that they see us, know us, and care about us. That’s what connection circles are about: being seen, being heard, being known, and developing affection.
Adding a minimum of one circular environment to the home is a primordial tradition that is recognized on a cellular level. It may be the layout of your living area with a sofa, table and two chairs opposite or a dedicated seating area to sip tea or wine. Comfort is key and elements of who you are. Adding decorative objects on the table between you gives your guests a chance to get to know you.
At our home we have a vintage wooden chess board with hand carved pieces from Mexico, the birth place of my husband. The set was a gift passed down from his father from his father. Two pieces went missing over the years and my husband and eldest daughter made the two pieces out of clay and painted one set black giving it a modern update and a story to share.
4. Ritual - make every day special and inspirational.
What are your rituals or what do you want them to be? Strategically placing objects to remind you who you aspire to be give you a subconscious boost towards them. For the religious set it may be an object of beauty from your beliefs that remind you to live the principles. A dedicated space to mediate reminds you to do just that.
A mezuzah is placed on the door frame of Jewish homes, something you see when you enter and leave. A simple miniature parchment inscribed with religious texts and attached in a case to the doorpost of a Jewish house is a daily reminder of their faith.
You’ll often find rosary beads dangling from door handles in Catholic homes. Rosary beads help Catholics count their prayers. More importantly, Catholics pray the rosary as a means of entreaty to ask God for a special favor, such as helping a loved one recover from an illness, or to thank God for blessings received — a new baby, a new job, a new moon.
Religion isn’t needed to create ritual, maybe nature or exercise is your ritual. A modern bike rack hanging in your mudroom can offer that daily push for you to ride. For me it can be as simple as design books on my coffee table that inspire me with a set of candlesticks. I light them most evenings as a ritual to transition from work mode to family down time.
5. Know your place.
Pay homage to where you are. Honoring the land and place that surrounds you gives an authenticity to your environment. When I'm designing a farmhouse, I always try to bring in the elements that is natural to the landscape. When we lived in Napa, I loved the creative use of vintage vines as art. They may set in a box frame and placed prominently as a focal point in a room. Living in Austin, Texas now, I find myself leaning towards cow heads - often I find resin versions of them which can be just as relevant. It gives a sense of place, knowing where we are and respecting the land and gifts the land has to offer.
In New York City it maybe be oversized windows displaying the city lights. In coastal towns it could be oversized shells, palm leaves or a bowl of driftwood pieces.
I have a client now that’s purchasing multiple short-term rental properties and the idea was that we’d find a design template to make the design process smoother and faster as he wanted a bunch in a short amount of time. Out first home purchase was a traditional Texas farmhouse with the big porch, perfect for a line of rockers out front. But the next home had a more Austin vibe to it with traditional touches. Each home has it’s own voice and I felt stamping out the same look to each home just didn’t feel right. With some gentle nudging, I suggested we let each home tell us what it needed to be rather than putting the same dress on very different girls.
Intentional Design doesn’t have hard and fast rules. It’s a process of unraveling who you are, what’s important to you, what you want to be fostering in your life and paying tribute to that. It’s personal. It’s not about seeing someone else’s style and copying it. There’s nothing wrong with finding inspiration through other’s designs but it won’t feel like you and you’ll know it and so will all that enter your home. That stillness we are all seeking simply won’t be there when we take what isn’t ours.
So often in life, I believe that finding joy, personal peace or our true north is about giving ourselves the gift of receiving it. You may have the desire to rush through getting your home where you think you want it to be like my younger self that was hustling so hard to create success. But if I would have landed in one of those impeccable homes my clients had, it would have felt soulless. It wouldn’t have felt like me.
My home today feels like a beautiful blend of all my family members. It’s us, for right now anyway. It changes just a little every season with vignettes throughout that represent the season upon us or our new shifts in style. This shows up from the pillows on our sofa to the coffee table and kitchen island decor. Small simple changes that change with us and the times.
What makes you light up is specific to you and your life journey and future goals. Objects that uplift you or cause you to reflect on impactful moments are essential to designing a home that pushes you forward, brightens your mood or keeps you on your life purpose.
Intentional Design is a journey and will evolve with you. It can be your design practice and form of expression. Your home as your life, can be your very own art piece.
Intentional Design by Natasha Antonioni is a full-service interior design and decorator firm based in Austin, TX. Our projects range in size from décor selection for high-rise apartments to complete remodels for gracious estates. No matter what your needs are, we’re here to help you design the life you imagine and bring purpose to your home.
Natasha’s work has been described as effortlessly timeless, modern yet classy, and most importantly livable and comfortable. We rely on bold statement pieces and a careful casual aesthetic, allowing our clients’ personalities to shine through each and every project so that you can live your best life. www.antonioniestates.com
For Natasha, residential real estate is more than just finding a house to live in, it’s about building a lifestyle in the right home and community for oneself and family.Let's Connect