Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Light of Day

When I woke yesterday the ground was silver with the first frost of the season.

As the weather grows colder and the days shorter, we are spending more time indoors and receiving a lot less natural light.  Seasonal Affective Disorder, or depression caused by a lack of sunlight, has received a great deal of media attention but even without depression you too are affected by less sunlight.

Blue/green light found in full spectrum light like sunlight causes serotonin levels to rise making us feel alert and active.  Red/Orange light, found in most of our indoor lighting, causes melatonin levels to rise making us feel more relaxed.

Perhaps you notice that you are more tired or sluggish these days - you may have even chalked it up to the busier schedule that follows summer vacation.  The problem may not be your schedule but your lighting.

Consider the areas where you spend most of your waking hours during the day, especially where you work, and check your lightbulbs.  If you find that you are using incandescent bulbs here simply replace them with full spectrum bulbs.  Likewise consider the lighting next to your bed or places where you like to unwind before sleeping, if you have full spectrum or fluorescent lighting in these areas consider switching to incandescent bulbs here.

Make the switch and see how you feel, you may still miss summer but it may make the colder months more bearable.

Proper lighting is good design and good health!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I have been hearing the word Downsizing quite frequently these days.  It is the result of and reaction to the tumultuous economic times in which we live.  I suspect that what comes to mind for most people when they hear the word is the corporate type, lost revenues, workers laid-off.  What I am more aware of is how often the word downsizing pertains to our homes.  Thankfully, it seems the McMansion days are becoming a thing of the past.

Whether driven by economic factors, life style changes or as an environmentally conscious choice people are choosing smaller homes.  Decorating magazines are also promoting this concept as House Beautiful's July/August issue was again dedicated to small spaces.

I love that the design community is embracing this trend and showing readers that bigger is not necessarily better and that smaller spaces can be fabulous.  Achieving proper scale is also an important concept in Feng Shui where the goal is a space that is neither too large nor too small but like Goldilocks just right.

I too am becoming part of this trend as I recently downsized to a new home this summer. Though my old house was a modest home of approximately 2,000 square feet, my new home is smaller and has fewer rooms. Not having a dedicated room for my office in the new house was a challenge but it has forced me to be creative with my use of space.  Now, instead of having a formal living room that is never used, I am claiming the nicest room in the house as my office and it is now used almost as much as the kitchen.  As a decorator it seems a waste to create a beautiful room and never use it.  As a Feng Shui practitioner I see an unused room as a stagnant space which is not beneficial to a home.

People may dream of having the big house but in terms of actual living we tend to spend most of our time in the coziest rooms. I remember helping a client who lives in a large, beautiful, waterfront home re-uhpolster a pair of club chairs for their favorite room.  They had a big formal living room and a large family room off of the kitchen yet their favorite room was a tiny cozy den.  Perhaps we will begin to seek out homes comprised only of the rooms we really spend the most time in and do away with these unused spaces.

I am glad that people are becoming aware of the appropriate use of scale and I look forward to exploring this concept both for myself and for my clients. Personally, it feels good to be in a home that is just right and I hope to help others achieve that feeling as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


A few weeks ago, my yoga teacher introduced a word to our class, Aparigraha.  It is a sanskrit word that means non-possesiveness or non-clinging.  It is also one of Yamas or Codes of Restraint which you could liken to the commandment thou shalt not covet.  Aparigraha adds another dimension to the concept of not-coveting which is a kin to the Buddhist ideal of non-attachment.  Aparigraha means letting go of the things we are holding on to.

The appearance of this word at this time in my life is certainly no accident.  With all of the major life changes that are happening to me now, there are many things that I must let go of in order to embrace the life that is waiting for me.  For me, aparigraha means letting go of a home that I love, full of memories of my children when they were small.  Letting go of the idea of what I thought my life would look like.  As I pack to move, aparigraha is my mantra as I size up what to keep and what to give away.  It is the word that I repeat as I give away books that are like old friends that have moved with me from the city to the suburbs, toys, holiday decorations, craft supplies, unworn clothes, unused electronics, all the "stuff", all the clutter.

In Feng Shui clutter is an important issue.  Clutter in a home is like a blockage or a stagnation.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is employed to open up blockages or stagnation so the life force or chi can circulate unimpeded throughout the body.  Clutter in your home is like a blocked artery in your body - blood is a life force and when blocked can cause serious illness like heart attacks or strokes.  Clutter, even in your closets, can affect your life and can affect your health.

If we hold on to the things that no longer serve us then there is no room for anything new to come into our lives.  By letting go of so many things I am creating an open space ready to receive new things and experiences.  Explore what the word Aparigraha means for you and ask yourself what you can let go of - you may be surprised to see what happens!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


According to the Chinese Five Element Astrology Calendar, February 4, 2012 commenced the year of the Water Dragon.  The Water Dragon is an auspicious symbol that portends a year of great changes.

The Water Dragon has already brought many changes to my life both personally and professionally.  On a personal level I have re-claimed my maiden name following my recent divorce.  I have also expanded professionally, completing my training as a Feng Shui practitioner.  I look forward to incorporating this ancient knowledge into both my life and work.

To reflect both of these changes, I have re-named my business Beth Grace Design and moved my website to a new url,  I have also started this blog as a forum to share design and Feng Shui topics with all of you.

I am excited to see what blessings the rest of this year has in store for me and I hope the water dragon brings you good fortune and prosperity too!

The gorgeous water dragon print shown above is by Diana Moll, and is available for purchase in her easy store: