Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Cozy Factor

I love old wood barns.

I love their smell, their look and the raw, wild earthiness of them. Barns and greenhouses are by far my favorite structures. They make me feel all cozy inside.

It's really a shame they are falling out of fashion as the characterless industrial steel structures take over. Steel doesn't provide the same coziness factor, for beast or human.

I was talking about coziness with my sister-in-law the other day and she said,"What is it with your brother and you and cozy? You're both always talking about things being cozy." I laughed. Because it's true! The pursuit of coziness is a family obsession.

We were raised in a home that worked. Every room was cozy and the neighborhood kids gravitated to it. The house was always abuzz with social activity. Sofas were slouched on, rugs were tread on, kitchens were cooked in. We played games, music, baked cakes together regularly (from scratch) and just plain hung out. Our parents never had to worry about what we were up to because everyone was perpetually at our home.

Children and pets were permitted in every room, except for adult bedrooms that were designated as private. There was a lot of laughter. (Although, I admit, it was a bad day when the rabbit we brought home from school ate a hole in my mother's new designer sofa.) You couldn't blame the poor thing. It was just trying to get into the fluffy down inside.

Fact is, all creatures seek coziness and love a good warm spot. Dogs, cats, squirrels, mice. My kitty purrs contentedly while cuddling into her bed. Squirrels nuzzle into fluffy lined nests to sleep. Animals don't create showplaces to live, they create cozy dens and nests that provide warmth and shelter. Everyone likes to feel held.

Working with design clients in the past, I discovered repeatedly that people who insisted on minimalism in design, didn't really hang out in those stark rooms at all. They retreated to messy bedrooms or to a casual den when visitors weren't present. The primary purpose of their show rooms was to provide a presentation for others to admire. There's nothing authentic about that.

My personal crusade, as is evident in my book, The Emotional House, is to try to get people to decorate rooms that are both beautiful and functionally livable, so that every space in your home draws you in. This keeps your life in balance, because every room in your home serves an emotional function.

In the garden, I believe a chaise helps with the coziness factor, because it provides a place to stretch out and read, catnap, chat on the phone, or just kick back and enjoy the outdoors.

A chaise screams "relax," and that is a big function of the garden. Serenity. Every garden needs a chaise in my opinion. Preferably one with a nice thick cushion. Next to that, a side table for a drink and snack. One of my chaises (pictured on the right side of this photo) has an embedded table that slides out from under the bottom and retracts when not in use. A similar one is available at Plow and Hearth and at Pottery Barn.

Outdoor dining tables are functional, but the chaise is what creates the cozy factor. They come in all price ranges, or you can build one yourself.  When the material on the cushions on my chaises started to deteriorate I tore it off and kept the stuffing inside. I recovered that with Sunbrella material I bought in bulk from a remains store online. But first I plumped up the stuffing with additional polyester fill from old pillows. That is one cushy chaise, let me tell you. And so very... cozy!

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