I am a magazine ripper. I get it from my Dad. If just one color, image, or sentence jumps out – RIPPP - and the page is added to a file, taped into a journal, or mailed via the good old fashioned postal service to someone he thinks would be inspired as well. One of my favorite design articles, “Charlotte Moss on the Art of Living”, Dad ripped from the November issue of House Beautiful magazine in 2013 and mailed off to me in San Francisco. Tethered at the edges and underlined throughout, this article still circulates my desk and pin-up board on a regular basis. Charlotte so perfectly sums up “Atmosphere” and its importance on any well-designed space.
“As much about our physical comfort as our intellectual satisfaction, rooms are metaphors of our lives. They echo our memories, hold evidence of our accumulated knowledge, and often whisper about our dreams for the future. What makes a room work, what makes it wonderful, is nothing you can see: It’s called atmosphere. The enthusiasm that created it, the joy of living in it, the vitality expressed through sharing it, all of this is silently, invisibly present. Atmosphere can only be created if all the senses are considered in the decoration of a house. Colors that soothe or excite, materials that beg to be touched, beautiful and personal objects that draw the eye, fragrance that lures you, and music that has you lip-syncing – when we engage all the senses, we engage ourselves, our total being. Decorating is just the beginning.”
These words immediately bring me to Christmas day in my parents New Jersey home. Christmas is always a large family affair at the Haines’. My parents have a particular knack for creating spaces that encourage entertaining. Flickering luminaries down the driveway greet guests and if we are lucky there is a dusting of white snow to add a winter warmth. Let me take your coat, pass you a cocktail, and we will have you singing Christmas carols in no time! I can guarantee you will be coaxed into a game of hide and seek and as you wander the hallways and hide behind the tassel trimmed curtains you cannot help but notice that everywhere you turn there is an effort to make all things beautiful. Nothing elaborate, but something to make each room feel special. To us the rooms of my parents home hold many memories and each special detail pairs with feelings of comfort and familiarity.
And Charlotte reminds us, “Why do we decorate? Why do we create these beautiful rooms? The answer, quite simply, is to live in them fully, to embrace the art of living, to engage all the senses.”