The Neighborhood

The Neighborhood

Wherever I am in the world I always walk the neighborhoods. It’s not the grand tourist destinations but the quiet pedestrian scenes that speak to the artist in me who will gladly forego the museum history lessons to become a brushstroke within the landscape of living, breathing art.

When I work with a new client on reimagining home I always consider the neighborhood. “What can we learn from what surrounds you?” I ask.  The question is often met with a period of silence and then a response that forms the question, “You mean the people or the homes?”

This recent long season of rediscovering home* has come with a stark revelation of how fundamentally important our environments really are—

Even still, and surprisingly counter to the lessons we’ve learned, we continue to feast on the goings-on in the world while the path to our own villages is littered with our breadcrumbs.

I have to ask, how will we ever truly find the way to ourselves without an intimate understanding of where we live?

Our Sanctuaries were never intended to be fortresses walling off the rest of the world but rather extensions of our humanity, reaching out and down garden pathways and tree-lined streets connecting us, one to another. Our neighborhoods, the people and their places, are not an intrusion or interruption to our everyday but scenic and soulful reminders of our role as world-shapers right where we live.

So why is it that we judge and opine about other people’s lives instead of allowing ourselves to be inspired by another point of view? 

My process of transforming house into sanctuary always begins with exploring a personal perspective, the way the world is seen from the inside out. And then we walk the neighborhoods. There is so much to learn about the essence of a place simply by stepping on its soil. And so we stroll, noticing the details: the roof lines and how they cut into the clouded sky; the stone and wood that come together at the corners; the color splashed on doors that turn entryways into works of art, and absolutely what is planted in the gardens.

The most important thing to notice is what is growing right in front of you— Relationships, flowers, families, a feeling of belonging, a sense of pride. While we obsess about places we may never see we neglect to notice and nurture the beauty that is within our grasp.

I wonder, what drew you to your home in the first place, why are you ‘there’ instead of anyplace else on earth? Remembering the genesis of the love affair with where you live is the start to reconnecting, maybe even deeper than ever before.  It’s true, our sanctuaries are intended as playgrounds to cultivate creativity and bring out the best of who we are…but the transformation we seek in our homes [both the interiors in us and what surrounds] should never be contained inside four walls.

The world needs your restorative touch starting right where you live. 
You were called to The Neighborhood to inspire and be inspired. 

Most of us already walk or run the streets surrounding our homes but have you ever done it with a particular objective in mind? 

Here is your assignment:
1. Who lives in the homes surrounding yours? How many of those who dwell within do you know?
2. When were the homes built? Do any of them look like yours? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
3. What is unique about your home? How can your home be a living, breathing manifestation of who you are? 
4. What is the pervasive architectural style? What are the details that you find interesting or lovely? 
5. How can you create originality in your home while still tying into the personality of the place where you live? 
6. What can you “tell” about the overarching disposition of your neighborhood? Is it friendly or guarded, open or suspicious?
* Are the gardens front-facing or are they out of view?
* Are repetitive colors used to create a cohesive look or are there any other notable details that create a “conversation” between homes?
* Are there window coverings and, if yes, are they open or drawn?
* What about lighting, are the interiors [from what you can see] filled with sunlight or dark?
* Do the homes convey a sense of welcome? Are they easy to access and how?
* Is there an overarching pride of ownership or are homes in need of repair?

What are the needs of your neighborhood—what are your abilities and resources to help meet those needs?

*Rediscovering Home
Living someplace and falling in love with it are two very different things. In the next journal we’ll talk about how to improve the relationship between humans and their homes. 

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