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Let’s Talk Trash: Creating a sanctuary at home

Indoor and outdoor spaces can be transformed into oases without creating more stress or draining your bank account

With all that is swirling about in the proverbial air these days, you may be considering creating a home-based sanctuary – a place to unwind and reground after and even amid perceived chaos.

Indoor and outdoor spaces can be transformed into oases without creating more stress or draining your bank account.

Spend a moment envisioning what it is that allows you to feel your best self. Whether it’s meditation, reading, creating, music, a good cup of tea, conversations with friends, a gourmet meal or a bath – your answers will guide you to the room you wish to create or retrofit.

Many find that cluttered spaces lend to distracted minds, so aiming for sparse décor could suit you well. Others sink into the opulence by mixing different textures and colours amid layers of textiles and curios.

Whatever your style, start working with what you’ve already got around your home. Beg, borrow and steal objects and furnishings that are unused or underappreciated where they are.

Next, sniff out inspiring or practical pieces from thrift stores, garage sales, community page listings, friends’ attics, and the like. This should get you to a solid base of near-free, and certainly eco-friendly items to work with.

Bringing in natural elements often delights the eye and relaxes the body. We are made to interact with life in all its forms, so invite this into your space. Rocks, bark, moss, branches, shells, garden herbs and flowers, and potted plants are readily available and can be a great way to involve younger family members.

Adding in water or fire features can also evoke a certain feeling of exhalation in any room. Candles (bees or soy wax for the win!) or lit fountains are transformational to the feeling of a space.

Scent is often an aspect of room-feel that is overlooked. Musty or stuffy spaces aren’t nearly as enjoyable to spend time in. Room sprays or diffusers that disperse natural oils are a great choice and much more aligned with peace of mind than chemical versions of the same. Thieves oil is a wonderful way to purify air naturally.

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way to a new look. Keep an eye out for recycled paints, which take off-tints and mix them into still-great and always less costly shades. Many recycling programs for paint allow residents to take home partly filled cans of paint that have been dropped off, as well.

Creative ideas

Creative types can use the fresh canvas of their walls to sketch out a mandala or any number of other personalized touches. Chalk painting a wall black makes it a safe place for all ages to draw, write love notes, or weekly poetry.

Instead of framing stock images for picture frames, print out a few meaningful ones that you have taken over the years. Don’t we all have gigabytes of digital photos we could pour through to find a few prize winners for whatever mood we’re aiming for? Kids’ art can also be elevated to gallery status with a fantastic salvaged or homemade frame.

Lighting has an incredible effect. Switching out brash fluorescents for a scattering of small, warm LED lamps or spotlights can change the mood more than you might expect. Outdoor spaces can add strings of faerie lights to achieve the same effect. Investing in well-made outdoor lights can pay off in the long run, rather than needing to replace chintzy strings each season.

Outdoor spaces are quite a delight in the shoulder seasons, and if sheltered, moving into the winter months as well.

Staying warm is key and blocking the wind with natural barriers such as bushes and trees, or building fences and garden beds is a good first step. Outdoor furniture should be nestled under awnings and piled with blankets and pillows to stay cozy.

Small, efficient wood-burning stoves can produce a lot of heat and contain ash. Be sure not to add ash from any treated wood to your backyard compost, though. Dryer lint is also a bad idea as a fire starter because it emits toxic gas from its plastic content.

Privacy can be created with textiles, art and planted shrubs at the fraction of the cost of building arbours or walls. There are many creative ways to repurpose old doors and windows to tuck in a space, too. While you’re at it, highlight the best view by orienting seating towards it.

The deeper truth is that many of the feelings we wish for a space to embody are available right here, right now. You might try taking on the challenge of setting the tone of your space early.

Are there ways to develop it with the very same energy you wish it to generate later? Could the family room be created as a family? Could tea breaks be mandatory while painting the tea room? Could the meditation or prayer room be designed while still allowing time for these in your day?

Progress may be slower, but almost inevitably, the space will be infused with something that can’t be bought.

Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste-reduction education program. For more information, email [email protected] or go to