Bali is a place more in tune with nature than any other I’ve been to. Coming from a big city where trees are cut down, concrete is poured in place of grass, and glass condo towers multiply as the months pass -- being in Bali allows me to change how I view nature, and also how I view physical spaces and structures.
Balinese architecture leaves many walls ‘open’ meaning a room still has four walls and a ceiling, but there are decorative openings so that the room is more connected with the surrounding nature. I love this aspect. I love that birds can sometimes slip into rooms, but then slip out just as seamlessly. Bugs may come, but then they go.
A majority of the school’s classrooms are outdoors on elevated tiled platforms with a ceiling. There are four posts holding up the ceilings and then bamboo curtains around the perimeter. Our kitchen is a small one that accommodates only two people at a time. Our dining area and common area are outdoors with a canopy over-head. What all this means is that there are very few quiet indoor places here. We are always connected with nature, but also with one another. In fact as I write this post in one of the classrooms, one of the cats just jumped in through the window, saw me, and left.
For an introvert who extracts creativity from quiet places, this can pose a slight problem. It’s difficult for me to find the right place to sit down and write since I need quiet and privacy to do so. It’s easy to think about bringing a computer down to the beach and then just typing away, but there are complications with that. Then there’s curling up in a cozy chair with paper and pen, but we don’t have cozy chairs here. As a result of what I don’t have here, I’ve completely begun to view physical rooms in a much more mindful way. I’m left thinking back to Western style homes and their abundance of rooms that hardly get used, and the ways that I’d use them if I had them now.
Apartment living in Toronto was the first step towards more mindful living because it required me to be more creative since I only had a few rooms -- the bedroom, living room, tiny bathroom, and kitchen area. In 400 square feet I had to think about a certain section being the designated writing area for instance.
When you have lots of space, there's plenty of opportunity to design it in a creative way. I've felt myself drifting towards a more minimalist lifestyle in recent months (being without a home and living out of a backpack makes this quite easy), but I still do appreciate spaces with exceptional attention to detail.
In Seminyak, Bali (the luxury, upscale part of Bali) there's a restaurant/bar called La Favela which is without a doubt one of the most beautiful restaurants I've ever stepped in. I couldn't believe the attention to detail in all rooms as I took a stroll through the quiet restaurant on an early afternoon. The rooms had different eclectic themes and styles, and I would have spent time sitting in each room appreciating them individually (if I had the time and money). This too is an example of Balinese inspired design that merges nature with the buildings structure. The middle of the restaurant is basically a courtyard full of aged green trees, bridges, and tables and chairs. This is a place that was mindfully created and meticulously managed. No corner or wall was wasted.
Then there’s also plenty of healthy habits out there to be more mindful around the home, and these can incorporated alongside mindful designing. Appreciate the physical space you have — many people live with far fewer rooms.
Clear out a room that isn’t being used and make it a quiet sitting room if you need to. Transform a guest room into a room that you spend time in when there are no guests in the house. Appreciate your backyard as a space that connects you to nature. Maybe your entire basement is empty and not being used- maybe taking in a new tenant is the way to go. Why waste the space when someone else could appreciate it? Create a minimalist meditation room, a sun-lit yoga room, or a room with only a canvas to do your art. Maybe a sitting room with two chairs to have private conversations with someone (with a bin outside the door to drop all electronics into). Perhaps a room to cover in maps and photos of the places you’ve travelled to. A room for siestas, and a room to sing in. A room with an aquatic theme- water fountains and blue hues. These are some ideas, and I'm sure you have plenty of them too.
The home is an extension of you. It represents your interests and personality. What do unfinished and un-used rooms say about you? Think of rooms more mindfully. I’d argue that if you run out of unique ways to purpose your rooms, then maybe you have too many of them.
Don’t waste your space; reimagine what could be.
What can you do to enhance your space?