July 08, 2011

Aging Gracefully with Interior Design

The week's beauty is interior designer Carole Freehauf  whom I met at a Boston Design Salon gathering. Known for her ability to seamlessly pair beautifully crafted materials and furnishings with refined architecture, Carole creates comfortable, elegant homes that are both modern and timeless. Carole has appeared as a design corespondent on This Old House, and her projects have been published in a number of design publications.

Carole has this to share about growing older:

I’ve been fortunate to have the luxury of time lately: time to think big picture about where I am right now, and how I might combine a number of lifelong interests and creative passions in the future. I’ve been around long enough to begin to recognize patterns in my life, to realize that what I liked to do at 12 isn’t all that different at 51.
I’ll never forget the advice of an art professor back in college, who over tea one afternoon charged a group of us to go through life not half asleep, but fully awake. He noted the faces of people on the subway as an obvious example of this sleep state (which after commuting on one for years I can totally understand). How often in our busy lives are we so preoccupied that we don’t really see what’s right in front of us?
Last fall, while on a day trip up to Provincetown with my husband Paul, I was suddenly so inspired by the many galleries we visited. Although I hadn’t picked up a canvas since college, the next day I signed up for a painting class. Painting challenges me to really look at objects, color, light and texture on a completely different level and find great joy in an activity I loved as a child. It has reminded me how soothing it can be to tap into some of the passions that I discovered when I was younger. I find that handwork, like making jewelry or cooking, has a similar effect. Not only pleasurable, making things is good for our health and can actually evoke the same relaxation response as meditation.
Travel is always a source of inspiration, whether it’s a nearby town I’ve never visited, 
or a trip to another country. The jolt of discovering new places and people, however short.
After a number of years of falling asleep on the third page, I’ve been making a point to read more novels again, another childhood passion (without, unfortunately, the treehouse). Following the twists and turns of a good plot is a great mental workout!
Speaking of workouts, while I often plan to get to a yoga class, many days it doesn’t happen. However, a little bit of stretching and walking everyday with my dog Jake has become necessary to clear up mental fog and loosen me up. I’ll often bring along varied styles of music, freshly mixed by my 18-year-old son, to quicken our pace and keep the routes interesting
I’m also trying to drink more water; it’s a great, inexpensive moisturizer!
As a designer, I can be a bit obsessive about reinventing my surroundings, yet this keeps a space interesting. Simple changes, like rearranging objects on a table, or adding a jolt of fresh color or scent, are powerful ways to add calm or energy to a room. I will see the same objects and furnishings in a new light. I really do believe our environment affects our wellbeing. There’s a lot to be said for living only with what you love and appreciating all that you have.

Thank you Carole for being this week's beauty. I think your work is divine.