JUF News | Creating calm through home design

Clocking countless hours, days, and months of social distancing has magnified how many people feel about their homes–what they love, what they loathe, and how one chooses to live within a space. For many, these last 12 months have been spent reimagining the possibilities of their homes, and how to bring calmness, happiness, and harmony to their spaces.

Suzanne Falk is the owner of Suzanne Falk Interior Design, a full service residential interior design firm, based in Riverwoods. She was also a “ghost designer” for DIY/HGTV networks Kitchen Crashers and Flip or Flop Chicago (Big City Charm) from 2013-2016. “At the beginning of the pandemic, people were excited about editing and organizing,” she said. “They had the gift of time. I saw many people being more resourceful and creative than they ever were before.”

Falk said her clients became increasingly focused on function and how they live within their homes, in order to bring greater happiness and peace of mind in the very space they treasure most. She helped her clients think about what they really need–whether a place for work, school, exercise, or even solitude–and then helped them get there by rethinking the use of often overlooked areas of the home including basements, garages, and closets. In doing so, Falk said, people were realizing the full potential of their homes to get the function and feel they craved.

“Think about how you will use a room,” she advises. This means not just what the room is for, but how you will live in the space. She said this can include where someone will sit, put their feet, and of course, the feel that’s invoked when we walk into a space. She added that paint color and lighting are so important in bringing harmony to any space. But it’s important to remember that everyone is drawn to their own color.

Diane Golin, the principal of Color Harmony and a certified True Colour Expert™, agrees. She uses her specialized paint color expertise to help homeowners select the right color the first time.

“Color can be very personal and what feels Zen-like for some may not for others,” Golin said. “The mood of a room can come from many elements, paint color being an important one. Wall color can help to create synergy in an environment–connecting the individual furnishings together. Selecting the right colors allows us to feel harmony within our spaces. Color can prompt emotion–for example, yellow evokes happiness; blues and greens can be calming.”

Most people will not be starting from scratch when redesigning a room. Golin said the most important considerations when selecting a paint color are the fixed elements, meaning items that you cannot move such as flooring, counter tops, tile, and existing furniture. “They become the ‘boss’,” she said.

Fabric and texture are also key elements that should not be overlooked, according to Falk. A fabric headboard, an area rug, textured wallpaper, and linen window coverings can all help complete a look and bring calm and coziness to a space.

Falk said thoughtful design is important in achieving the desired look, feel, and function of a space. “People want to love their homes,” she said.

Elizabeth Abrams is Assistant Vice President of Communications for the Jewish United Fund.