Image credit: House
I have a friend who can look at your bookshelves and tell you your life.
It’s uncanny. She reads them like fortune tellers read your palms. She once averted a friend’s divorce just by noticing a copy of Anais Nin’s 'Henry and June' on her coffee table.
She claims you can ‘read’ people (pardon the pun) through anything if you pay the right sort of attention: their clothes their pets, and – this is where I got really interested – their houses.
Houses have stood as symbols and metaphors for the self since the word psychology was invented.
Our psyches seem to understand the connection automatically. Lots of us have dreams where we discover that our house has suddenly sprouted an extension we never knew about. And it often happens when our lives have taken on a more expansive dimension.
Or we have nightmares that there are spiders, spooks or other gremlins in our cellar when something scary is coming up in our psychic lives.
In psychological thinking, our dream rooms, walls, staircases, objects, decorations, and colors all give clues to who we are.
So if this is true in our dreams then how much more so in our waking lives?
We all express ourselves through our houses, whether we mean to or not. So I was thinking about what the various rooms in our house say about us, and if they have ‘meaning’.
Bathroom and loo.
Image credit: Glorious bathroom
Where we wash and – ahem – relieve ourselves in daily life. Bathroom dreams can often point to a messy situation in our lives or the need to relieve ourselves emotionally or psychologically.
To soothe mind and psyche then, the bathroom will be most nurturing when it’s clean and calm and well-stocked and safe. A sturdy lock on the door can reassure a nervous nature and ensure a sense of safety so we can happily while away time without fear of being disturbed until we’re clean and refreshed.
Soft, fluffy towels, comfortable fittings and a nice warm atmosphere mean you can relax and spend time not just cleaning, but also dreaming in fragrant bubbles.
Image credit: Refined, Luxury Kitchen Design y McCarron & Co.
Traditionally where the stove that warms the whole house is, and where we cook up nourishment for ourselves and others. There’s nothing so reassuring as a fridge and cupboards full of delicious fresh food.
Think of Nigella’s walk-in pantry with everything you could ever imagine to make hearty tempting meals at the drop of a hat. (I’m not sure I need 14 types of chilli, but I do love the idea of 8 kinds of chocolate!) And who doesn’t feel instantly secure in a warm room filled with the smell of warming stew, a vanilla pudding or a fragrant coffee?
Or sitting in a sturdy chair at a pine-scrubbed table, glass of wine in hand, discussing the small events of the day?
Image credit: Tidy living room
This is where we relax and enjoy down time as a family or with friends. But it is also the more public aspect of our private life. We might make a little effort here to show our good taste, our ‘best’ side. So living rooms are both personal and slightly public, often reflecting a persona we like to take on.
I’m a natural slob but if people are coming round it’s the sitting room that gets the clean and tidy treatment.
Image credit: Romantic bedroom
On the other hand is much more likely to express our private and sensual self. It’s the place where we both literally and metaphorically dream.
Where we should be able to let go of our controlled personas, the faces we show the world, and sink into our deep selves. We are at our most vulnerable when we are asleep so bed needs to be a safe and cradling place.
Cellar and Attic.
Image credit: Abandoned attic room - eek!
These are both archetypally the places of the unconscious.
Almost all horror films feature scariness in the cellar. Yet so much creativity comes out of the unconscious, maybe if we made the cellar in our house a light, comfortable place it’d make us happier and more creative!
I know some people turn their cellars into playrooms or dens and retreats. A place to contemplate, commune, or just muck about a bit. Gyms, home cinemas, games rooms and wine cellars can all bring more pleasure into our lives and chase away the boogy man.
The attic is also traditionally a place of hidden secrets, but more to do with the mind or the higher consciousness. I’ve seen some beautiful meditation spaces made from attics as well as inspirational bedrooms, creative studies, reading rooms or just hiding places from the thrum of daily business.
There’s something about being up high that elevates the thoughts and if you can get loads of light in, too, it’s like being closer to heaven.
So whether you want to encourage more creativity, calm or confidence, try influencing your psyche by beautifying your home!