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Sense of Sanctuary

If ever we needed a sense of sanctuary from our home, it’s now. In the blink of an eye our humble abode has either become our entire world or, if you’re still working outside of it, the port we return to at the end of a stormy day.

Our home environment will play a huge role in how we experience these coming weeks and months but, I believe, the most important thing to strive for is balance.

A sense of sanctuary
A sense of sanctuary. Photo: The Seasonal Touch

Week 1 of this lockdown lark saw me enthusiastically switching up my decor for spring. I was ON IT! Packing away winter cushions and throws, changing out my accessories for a lighter, brighter look, home was a hive of activity!

Week 2 and I moved outside. A woman wielding secateurs, on a mission to whip that garden into shape.

Week 3 and I’d completely run out of steam. My motivation was zapped but I felt restless and uneasy - a very peculiar state I now realise is not uncommon for many of us as we try to navigate this bizarre situation. I desperately looked for hope, for inspiration, even checking in with Marie Kondo on Netflix for a fix of her magic touch. That descended into a binge watch of all the ‘Harry Potter’ films where I decided that what I really needed was a magic wand. Oh for a magic wand. I could lazily transform the place from the couch while polishing off the last of the Easter chocolate.

My husband (a mostly wise soul) keeps reminding me that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I realise now that we need to pace ourselves if we’re to get through all of this with our wellbeing intact. If you have some time on your hands AND the energy for a little home improvement project, you’ve hit the jackpot - go for it! However, if you simply want to put your feet up, breathe and take a moment to be thankful for your own four walls then that’s exactly what you should do.

There will be no ‘productivity prizes’ at the end of all of this, no ‘home improvement inspections’ to check you used any enforced time at home wisely.

There will be no ‘productivity prizes’ at the end of all of this, no ‘home improvement inspections’ to check you used any enforced time at home wisely. However, at times like this, we all need moments of joy to keep our spirits up. Moments of pride and pleasure to counteract all the misery out there. We need balance. Some people might find that in music, for some it might be in exercise, cooking or doing jigsaw puzzles. If you, like me, get a sense of delight from sprucing up your space then this next piece might be just the inspiration you’re looking for.


How to decorate shelves

I’m often asked about the best way to display ornaments and accessories at home. I’ll hear folk say ‘I just don’t know how to arrange stuff’ or ‘It never looks pulled together’.

When time allows, there’s nothing better than to just experiment, try things out. Unlike paint colours or anything similarly semi or fully permanent, if you don’t like it you can just rearrange!

Here are some tips and tricks to help you get started.


‘Shelves’ could mean any surface in your home suitable for arrangements of accessories. It could be the mantlepiece, bookcase, coffee table, side table, hall table or anywhere else you feel would benefit from some well placed adornments.


Almost anything! Try books, candles, plants, vases, trays, bowls - pretty much anything goes. Travel momentos work well as do most other collectables. Include photos, framed pictures and other pieces of art.


  • Groups using an odd number of pieces in a variety of shapes and sizes work well. Consider the heights of the accessories - a version of tallest at the back, shortest at the front will work well, either in a spiral or zig-zag.

  • Use a variety of prints and textures in a group - shiny, matt, patterned, plain, smooth, rough etc.

  • Include lamps or artwork as part of the display if they’re close by. Your eye will read it as one group.

  • Overlap items to create layers.

  • Add a tray or mat underneath a group to create an additional layer.

  • Give items a lift by placing them on top of a stack of books or ornamental box.

  • Balance one end of a shelf with the other. Think of it like a set of scales where the combined visual volume of objects at one end is roughly equal to the other.

  • Create a display of similar items - type/colour etc.

  • Consider displaying items against a contrasting background.

  • Lastly, don’t be afraid of leaving empty space. Minimalist or maximalist, you’ll work out how much space suits you.


The interiors column is contributed by Lynn McMurray. Lynn lives in Balerno and is an enthusiast of all things "home" and owner of home decor and accessories business The Seasonal Touch.

Published in Konect May 2020


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