nourishing the soul

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home for the soul cover
wood paneling and flooring
staircase displaying art
cool dogs cool homes cover
dog on a couch
dogs lounging

home should be a place that feeds the soul of all inhabitants, even the four-legged ones

Did you know that your home is alive; that it comes to life with the personality that you put into it?

In Home for the Soul: Sustainable and Thoughtful Decorating and Design, The CONTENTed Nest’s Sara Bird and Dan Duchars write about the importance of a natural home and praise shabby chic style by telling readers how to create beauty from the past. From color to texture, Bird and Duchars showcase how to create a cozy feel that’s natural and chic; homey and stylish; loving and gorgeous. Ever hear of the slow food movement? Consider this book your intro to the slow home design movement that you never knew you needed.

“The awareness and sensation of being at home should be comforting and reassuring. Home provides us with a familiar backdrop, allowing us to step back from our busy lives,” Bird writes. “It’s also a place where we can engage with mindful approaches to boost our sense of wellbeing. We can design our homes to improve our quality of life and sense of wellbeing. There’s a whole spectrum of possibilities and choices.”

Full of gorgeous examples of natural homes with soul, the book also contains examples of how to craft your own decorative items from broken or old objects, like chairs that have seen better days or empty glass bottles.

Though a boho aesthetic is celebrated throughout the book, the authors showcase how to bring a natural feel into any style, from Victorian apartment homes with clawfoot tubs and interior doors with etched glass windows to full-blown modern homes with stark, clean lines.

The theme of the book may be about making a natural home and finding a way to repurpose things to make them whole again, but even further, the book is a reminder to live better; to live simply, yet fully; to live mindfully; to slow down and smell the roses or whatever plant of your choice nourishes your soul.

And, as the world around us undergoes vastly different changes, maybe it’s time to truly enjoy our homes and to make it into a comforting refuge that’s sustainable, nourishing and beautiful, rather than the place where we simply rest our heads at night.
—Patricia L. Garcia

At one point in my 20s, I had four dogs at the same time. They were wonderful, fun, spunky and not exactly worried about their hair getting into every nook and cranny of the house. I could never imagine a home with dogs that was pristine or somewhat nice (I didn’t buy decorative pillows for the sofa well until after life with all four pups and I often stacked chairs on the sofa to keep them off – only to come home and find evidence of their dog naps around said chairs).

But the dog owners featured in Cool Dogs, Cool Homes: Living in Style with Your Dog, by Geraldine James show that it’s entirely possible to have a house with dogs that can be clean, even stylish!

The trick, it seems, is to create a home that lives the way you – and your dog – do. And to let go of the idea of a perfectly clean home. “The company of a dog also far outweighs any inconvenience or mess they bring with them—Eddie is the heartbeat of my home, and without him the cool interior would seem meaningless,” one featured owner said about their maximalist home and their rescued terrier.

While the magnificent backdrops, such as the historic manor that dates to the 13th Century with a grand staircase and garden, the dogs are the true characters of the book. Many of the dogs featured are rescue dogs, now living the good life not only through their luxe surroundings, but by the love and attention they receive.

The owners speak about their four-legged friends as family members and, as such, deserve a space where they can feel safe, roam freely and grow. All the dogs are standouts, but a spunky five pack of Smith, Ronnie, Rita, Ruby and Lenny stand out. All were rescued from neglectful circumstances. They now live in a bohemian-decorated home, lounging on sofas or close to the many fireplaces. Like these lucky dogs, many of the pups in the book came from rescues, showing how life can have a happy ending, even for those with not-so-great starts. Ultimately, this book goes to the dogs.

What Cool Dogs, Cool Homes teaches us is that we should take it easy. Like dogs, our homes should be a welcoming place that we look forward to getting to no matter what kind of day we’ve had.
—Patricia L. Garcia