Outer beauty, inner peace – The Globe and Mail – #Toronto #realestate

The West Coast Way

Outer beauty, inner peace

Barry Calhoun Photography

A well-decorated home won’t ensure you a contented life – but it can improve the odds

Kelly Deck

Kelly Deck

From Friday’s Globe and Mail

People underestimate the importance of decorating.

As modern people, we are perfecting the art of alienation. A troubling fact: In North America and Western Europe, we’re wealthier than we’ve ever been, and yet we have high depression and suicide rates. How can that be?

I’d hazard a couple of guesses: In many of our big cities and suburbs, we tend not to know our neighbours; our environments are designed more for automobiles than for human beings; and we spend more and more of our lives before the glare of television and computer screens. In this kind of world, it’s hard to remember where you are.

Our homes cannot extend this feeling of dislocation. They must be places in which we locate and recover ourselves. Home is where our psyche knits itself back together after the day’s exertions. It’s where we take our ease.

And in this recuperation, decoration is crucial. Now, it’s possible this sounds like a designer trying to justify the existential significance of her life’s work, making the case that decor is the doorway to happiness. It’s not. A well-decorated home won’t ensure you a contented life, just as getting a good night’s sleep won’t ensure your next day’s success. But without either, your chances are slimmer.

So how to get the decoration right? Of course, no prescription will suit everyone: Each person is unique, and simply telling you to buy these curtains or that lamp won’t do. But answering a few simple questions can draw you closer to a solution that’s right for you. And so we arrive at the psychological portion of the article. Recline on a sofa if it makes you comfortable.

When was your most peaceful moment?

For me, it was lying in a hammock on the porch of a rented bungalow, looking out into the jungle of Costa Rica. It was a hot June afternoon in 2006, two days after wrapping my frenetic first season of Take It Outside. I’d absconded from the intensity of workaday life and made myself unreachable.

For the first time in months, it seemed, I felt and heard the world around me: the smoothness of the larch floorboards under my bare feet, the lightness of the linen dress on my skin, the cacophony of the vast jungle.

The poignant physicality and isolation of that moment gave me ease. And I’ve remembered it. When I set to decorating my apartment back in Vancouver, I got a place with hardwood floors, and kept it warm enough that I could walk around in bare feet, all year round.

My furnishings are light, natural and unfussy, like the linen frock. There’s no hammock in my apartment, of course, but my down-stuffed sofa is long and deep enough for a horizontal afternoon of listening to the world go by outside. The soundscape is more car radios and clattering bottle collectors than cicadas and howler monkeys, but that’s okay. That’s what my neighbourhood sounds like.

What grounds you?

To feel comfortable at home, people need tiny, consistent hits of familiarity and beauty. We should make a place for these in our daily rituals and small indulgences. For some, it’s washing our hands with the same English Leather our father used; for others, it’s the satisfaction of a sharp knife and thick cutting board. Think about what you do in a day, and where you have an opportunity to take pleasure or reassurance in it.


Barry Calhoun Photography

In my home, many things ground me. Two of high importance are a beautiful bed and cloth napkins.

My bed today has silk cushions and soft sheets, and I take care to make it as luxurious as possible. I owe this habit to my mother. She always bought pretty bedding for my sister, Jamie, and me, and banned us from breakfast unless we’d made our beds. I always hated that rule, but – funny how this happens – today I can’t leave home with my bed unmade. The moment I draw tight the sheets, there is order in my world.

My mother also passed on an appreciation for table linens. Not fancy tablecloths, just everyday cloth napkins. Whether it’s pizza at the coffee table or an impromptu meal with friends, I find that the napkins ritualize a meal and elevate it from the mere ingestion of food. I feel better for having them.

What objects say something essential about you?


Barry Calhoun Photography

I have a brown ceramic bowl full of beach rocks that always occupies a prominent place in my home. The bowl was a gift from Gailan Ngan, an artist whose work I sold at the boutique I opened out of art school. Each of the rocks has come home with me from one corner of the planet or another, marking my journey there.

The idea is that we need to see ourselves, and our past, reflected in our homes. Our lives, however unfathomable and arbitrary seeming, have a history: I was, therefore I am. This is no trifling point. In a world in which we’re so often anonymous, at home we must have a name.

Now, this doesn’t mean that every photograph, bus transfer and kindergarten fingerpainting has to go up on the wall. Not everything you touch says something essential about you. My advice is to choose carefully the few items that do, and give them pride of place in the decor of your home.

Modern living can wear us down and make it hard for us to locate ourselves. But we needn’t carry the alienation across the threshold. With some consideration and effort, home can be a place of ease and comfort. We regain a place, a name, a history and the energy to welcome another day.


About Tariq Sultan
Dear Readers, I am a dedicated Toronto, Ontario based real estate professional who has been successfully meeting and exceeding the needs of his clients for past several years. I am actively involved in the insurance, financing, and mortgage industry. Real estate is not only my career – it is my passion. I strive to continuously provide my clients with exceptional service to ensure they are fully satisfied when it comes to their real estate needs. For any real estate related inquires contact me today, I will be happy to assist you. Best wishes, Tariq Sultan

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