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Oct 10, 2016 05:36PM ● By Ren Campbell

Have you noticed that people are not as comfortable being themselves in today’s world of glam design? I’m fascinated by the trends of design in interiors, clothing and hairstyles. Following them is not something I do as a general practice simply because I know myself and what works for me. I am that old. It is also my practice to pay attention to the Genius Loci, the spirit of place, a belief that the environment influences behavior and culture as stated by architect Lawrence Durell in 1969. As we chat about the importance of the senses in your home I want you to think about the where you live; the history, the city and the countryside, the materials you touch and see around you. There you will find authenticity, local distinctiveness, character, and narrative or respect for the history of place.  

The most visible places to find these elusive but natural phenomena are in the tactile world, the surfaces we touch, the world outside of our homes. Have you ever noticed that while the eye may be deceived by a fake finish, like vinyl embossed to replicate wood, it still doesn’t feel right? It isn’t soul satisfying no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that it is okay, that it’s all we can afford, that it really doesn’t matter, that no one will notice, that it serves the purpose, that it gives you the ‘look’ you want. Our visual sense may be deceived, or allow us to deceive ourselves, for a short period of time, but in the end it will not lead to an authentic experience of place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. When I have to replace a window in my house I inevitably will install one with better insulating value and an exterior finish that is ‘worry-free’, but, you won’t catch me faking a retro kitchen just because I live in an old building. The genius loci of my home is such that the ongoing changes made to it over its past are more satisfying when seen rather than hidden or pretending to be something else entirely.

The most satisfying experience is to have family and friends come into my home, sit down, chat, look around and say “I do love this room.”

Have a look at your home, maybe just start with your bed room. Do you have surfaces that are varied to the touch: soft, smooth, rough? The variety and proportion of each is dependent on your personal style. If you want a ‘French’ boudoir or a Mid-Century Modern room keep in mind that it is now and it is for you, not for someone else in some other place and time. Industrial Chic has been a recent by-word and if you look at some of this style you can see how adding a soft draping curtain from floor to ceiling in a slick or rough space can make all the difference between “love it” and “what’s wrong here.” Touch your house and it becomes a home.

“Genius is making complex ideas simple, not making simple ideas complex”            Albert Einstein


About the author: Ren Campbell has practiced the discipline of architectural interior design for over 30 years. He’s been a University studio instructor and currently consults with individuals on their issues concerning their homes and how they live in them. For House Therapy questions, email [email protected].

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