Designed to soothe

Soothing colors create a perfect backdrop for a cherished art collection and the owners who lounge here. Courtesy photo

“A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules or fits certain definitions. … It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.” — Edith Wharton

When does a house become a home? When does any space envelop you and make you feel good? Many people say that a house is made by hands, but a home is made by the heart. In my experience, a space can only become a home when the owners’ personality and heart have been taken into consideration.

When considering our home, we need to think about the changes we may face at any time in life. Families grow or get smaller or our lifestyles change, and we all need spaces that feel soothing. We need spaces that we feel happy to enter at the end of a long day, where we can put our feet up and relax, feeling fully comfortable and at ease. But if you’ve ever redecorated or renovated a space, you’ve probably wondered: What steps go into making sure a space feels soothing? This concept applies to all spaces we spend time in, including the workplace.

At my design firm, our primary goal is to make sure our clients feel like the spaces we design for them are inviting and speak to their personalities and tastes, whether in the home or workplace. Each detail, no matter how small, is chosen to ensure that we are feeding all of our client’s senses — sight, touch, taste, smell and sound — and presenting a space that soothes the soul.

As you might imagine, then, interior design involves much more than just making a space look beautiful. It is our job to gather as much information as possible about the project at hand — the space’s layout, its function, our client’s budget, timeline and more — and to analyze it before making important decisions. Before diving in, we need to know what our clients want out of their space, how they want to get there and what problems they have with their current space that we can help them solve. Like any business project, it’s important we do our research, create a plan and communicate with everyone involved, every step of the way.

My team and I recently completed a project for clients who love classic pieces and their cherished art collection. Before even considering colors, patterns, or finishes, we got to know their needs and preferences. Doing so helped us select appointments that spoke to the hearts of the people who would ultimately use the space. As with any project we undertake, detailed research was key so that we could “wow” our clients and present a soothing space.

My advice for anyone who wants to design a space that feels like home is to do the necessary hard work to truly understand the people who will be using it — whether that’s you and your family, your co-workers or a client. Before starting any interior design project, I always make sure I spend time with my new clients to gather information and make observations about their tastes, their lifestyle and their preferences. The same should be true when designing your own space. Look for inspiration online and in magazines and spend time getting to know what brings you joy. That’s the first and most crucial step in designing a soothing space that truly feels comfortable.

Lisa Samuel ASID, IIDA, is a Santa Fe native and principal of Samuel Design Group, located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe. She is an award-winning interior designer known for creating unique interiors imbued with warmth and elegance. Samuel ( is passionate about good design that supports well-being.

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