Hello! I’m Nina, and I am the founder of online homewares store INGREDIENTS LDN. We offer a selection of soulful objects made of natural materials for people with a thoughtful approach to homemaking.
I am grateful to be able to share a few thoughts that present our philosophy on homemaking and offer some my guide and inspiration for designing a slow-living inspired home.
Why Seek a Slower-Paced Life at Home?
For those of us who live in cities, modern life can feel hectic, demanding, and at times relentless. Urban dwellers who yearn for a slower pace do so not in spite of city living but because of it. The longing to restore some form of balance into our everyday lives is a reaction to a world that demands so much doing that it can often feel like there is little time left for being.
For many of us, that change of pace begins at home. Our homes are our sanctuaries: spaces where we are free to be ourselves and where we can find peace and solace. Whether our homes are ours or just on loan, we always have at least a little room to shape our surroundings to reflect our individuality and internal rhythms.
Who We Are Begins At Home
When it comes to designing homes, my philosophy is simple: a home should be put together based on how we want to feel and live and not on how we think it ought to look. The art of homemaking is about so much more than just aesthetics. At the center of our striving is the desire to facilitate the life we wish to unfold within the spaces we inhabit.
The desire for a slower, more considered home is ultimately the desire for a more considered approach to everyday life. Who we are begins at home. Home is where we rest and recharge, home is where we raise our families, for some of us home is even our place of work. Home is the place we are most free to be ourselves, and it’s the place where we welcome others into our world. With so many of us fatigued by a world that can seem completely at odds with our own values, home is the place where we can create a world that reflects what we care for most.
When our homes are thoughtfully put together based on what we value and how we wish to live, they begin to serve as more than just spaces we inhabit, becoming a tangible way to reinforce those values.
How to Design A Slow-Living Inspired Home
With our homes playing both a central and a centering role in our lives, I wanted to share some thoughts based on my experience on how to design a slow-living inspired home.
Design for Togetherness
Human beings are hyper-social beings. Cooperation and togetherness lie at the heart of what it means to be human. Relationship therapist Esther Perel put it beautifully when she said: “the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.”
Our homes are spaces for private togetherness. Away from the time-restricted gatherings that occur in public spaces, at home, we are free to slow down, take our time, and be together on our own terms.
Designing our home with togetherness in mind can take many different forms. From long tables to gather around and benches that can accommodate two or a few, to slouchy nesting sofas where the immediate family can take time to savor the intimacy of physical closeness. From rooms that morph from home office to space for guests to be welcomed into, to large cushions that double up as extra seats on the floor when there are no more chairs to go around.
Designing for community is not about mustering elaborate acts of hosting or about creating spaces that impress or astound; each one of us has different means, and the restrictions imposed by limited space or budget are common to most of us. Instead, the art of designing for togetherness resides in the amount of care and attention we dedicate to making those we share our spaces with feel comfortable, welcome, and at ease.
Design a Home for the Senses
Our senses are what ground us in the here and now. Taking us out of our heads and rooting us into our bodies, a home that has been created with all of our senses in mind is a space where we can come find our way back to ourselves. The feeling of sliding a vintage record out of its sleeve, carefully placing the needle into the grooves and listening out for the crackle within the sounds of times gone by, can be so much more pleasurable than pressing play on a digital playlist. At a time when so much of daily life is ruled by screens, creating our home in a way that deemphasizes the digital in favor of the sensual can provide a welcome respite for us as well as those we welcome into our home.
Using natural materials such as linen, stone, wool, or clay. Leaving wooden floorboards unvarnished and stripped furniture unpainted. Leaving fabrics un-ironed, bunched up, or flowing for our fingers to nestle into. Incorporating texture in the form of textured walls, woven fabrics such as upholstery, rugs and soft furnishings, and even chipped and blistered finishes such as the ones so typical of vintage and antique furniture. Introducing soft organic forms such as uneven, natural surfaces, or the small imperfections of handmade ceramics, all give our senses something to notice and experience.
Not only do natural materials, organic forms, and uneven surfaces root us back into our senses, when contrasted with the sterility of plastic, they are brimming with character and warmth. Used in abundance, they are one of the easiest ways to create a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere in our home.
Design for Calm and Contemplation
Carving out space in our minds to reconnect with ourselves is the beginning of slowing down and living a little more mindfully. Designing our homes with serene spaces in mind that can be savored as a means of finding a little stillness can be beneficial for both us and the people we share our spaces with.
A calming color pallet. Nooks for contemplation such as a seat by a window, a reading corner, or the perfect reading light by the bed. A comfy, quiet spot to pause and take a moment while the tea is brewing. Whether it is a larger gesture like taking time to build or restore a fireplace in our home, or something small like placing a chair next to the kitchen window so we can steal a quiet moment while the kettle is boiling, designing our homes with calm and contemplation in mind can be the starting point for building slower, more thoughtful routines into our daily lives.
Design with Consideration for our Planet
The wear and tear of daily life, scuffs, marks, and stains, can be seen as flaws to be fixed or as the patina that tells the unique story of use and user. Natural materials are not only more considerate to our planet than plastic, but materials like marble, bare wood, and copper preserve the traces of almost every interaction. By learning to embrace these signs of use as precisely what makes an item beautiful and unique, we begin to adopt an approach that allows us to keep items in use for longer.
When we create our homes using natural materials, secondhand or vintage furniture, and quality items that will last and become better with time and use, and when we learn to embrace imperfections and traces of time as part of the story of a loved and lived-in home, we are creating homes with more consideration for our planet.
By allowing our homes to evolve slowly over time rather than striving to complete every corner within the rush of renovation or moving in, we allow ourselves the time to make more considered decisions that not only result in more soulful homes but also ensure that we don’t find ourselves yearning for the next trend just as soon as we are finished.
Design to Reflect Individuality
As we break away from restrictive traditions on how homes ought to look and claim the freedom to design our homes in the way that works best for ourselves and our family life, our homes are increasingly becoming an expression of our own preferences and values, and a reflection of our individuality.
Homes that genuinely reflect the individuality of the people who reside within them are seldom homes that are the perfect depiction of the latest ‘trends’ from interior design magazines. Instead, they are homes filled with objects that have been collected slowly over time that tell of the stories, travels, hopes, and dreams of the people who live within them. Instead of succumbing to the pressure to buy the latest mass-produced, trend-focused items that become irrelevant as quickly as they come into fashion, a slow home is one where purchasing decisions are made sparingly but with consideration and intention.
Whether it is a collection of items from travels around the world, slowly collected functional ceramics, or vintage rugs and antique furniture, there are many ways to create a home that is an expression of our own values rather than the values prescribed to us by the newest trends.
Design for the Life You Want to Unfold Within Your Space
Most importantly, our homes should be designed to facilitate the life we wish to lead within them. If spending more quality time with our loved ones without screens is a priority, we can consider moving the TV into a separate space so that we choose to watch it more mindfully (or not at all). If gathering around home-cooked meals is something we long for, we can prioritize a larger kitchen space, a comfortable dining table big enough to accommodate all, or simply find ways to allow for company to spend time in the kitchen comfortably while a meal is being prepared. If nudging ourselves towards a slower, more considered lifestyle is what we crave, we need to define what this means for us, and then design our homes to accommodate these needs.
In the end, all it takes is a shift in focus away from just how our homes ought to look and more toward how we want them to feel and what activities we want to spend most of our time doing within them.
Thoughtful design holds the key to nudging us toward better habits and better ways of moving through the rhythms of our daily life. When we prioritize feelings and experiences as much as we do style, we begin to create homes that facilitate our lives. In these digital times, when visual inspiration flows in abundance and the pressure to keep up can be intense, a slower, more considered home offers an alternative by prioritizing the feelings we most cherish and encouraging the life we most yearn for.
To learn more about slow-living at home (especially with littles!), don’t miss our recent story and home tour with Lindy Dodge on Creating An Intentional Family Home. If you’re looking for inspiration for bringing functional or inspiring objects into the home that cultivate slow-living, my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide is full of many of my favorite brands and items that do just that!