Australian interior architect and designer, change maven and yogi Merinda Garrett explains how our residential and work spaces can fulfil several roles in our lives. The roles of supporter, nurturer, leader, motivator – and the list goes on. Our homes, consciously and intently curated and designed, can influence and ‘hold us’ in becoming the person we dream to be; the person we are meant to be.
Merinda is mother to one and devoted to Mother Earth. She dreams big, loves large and believes each of us has the capacity to change the world. ‘My soul purpose is to teach you how to connect fully to who you truly are, and with this wisdom as your guide, transform your house into your soulfull home.’
Founder of The SoulFull Home, she’s a yoga and meditation teacher, creative director and advisor @ Kasaba, Containerly and Dwellrr, a collective of compact living projects in Australia and California, USA.
I met Merinda at a Design Collective’s event, a think tank in San Francisco Bay in 2017. Her company and her drive reminded me of something Steve Job’s told BBC way back: ‘That’s been one of my mantras: focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.’
An incredibly versatile and natural designer, Merinda is one of the warmest humans I’ve ever met and who shares a profuse relationship with laughter. She’s worked on large-scale refurbishments and office fit-outs to design-savvy residential projects and is a respected innovator in the industry.
Krishnamacharya (the father of modern yoga) taught his students that the power of transformation is a gift to be shared with every householder. This sentiment is the foundation of what Merinda and The Soulfull Home bring to you.
‘My desire is for each of us to connect to our innermost values and express them outwardly. My most heartfelt wish is to inspire and transform the way we live, love, create and consume at home.’ Believing that every person can fulfil the role of being a positive and perennial force of change for the improvement of all and everything, Merinda’s dream is to support the planet. This core purpose has influenced her to be many things in many places:
‘I’ve been a roller skating waitress, a vine pruner, kitchen-hand, ice-cream scooper, swept wool in shearing sheds, herded cattle, bussed tables, taught kids with a radio and handset in the outback, worked in bars, studied interior design at university, sold wine in Western Australia, taught interior design at university, raised my daughter, bought old houses, studied facilitation, facilitated groups, sold beautiful houses, practised yoga, studied yoga, married, moved countries, studied more yoga, practiced yoga, practiced yoga and practiced some more yoga, never perfect, always practicing.’
In the past, she’s hidden behind self-doubt and that annoying, self-sabotaging, limiting, bully-voice. ‘You know her, the voice that says: ‘Who are you to save the planet? ‘Better not to start than to fail.’ To that voice, I now say… I’m all in!’
Recognising the wisdom of her craft and her open willing heart, we invite you to join Merinda Garrett on a journey to realise your dream home. All you need is a little confidence to make it real as Merinda supports and guides you to feel into what really matters to you; to meditate, investigate and become really clear about your vision so that it is aligned to living soulfully, consuming mindfully and designing beautifully.
For Merinda, yoga and design are indelibly linked, intertwined, interdependent. ‘I play with words and ideas and dive into interior design conversations that help make a soulfull home real. I shine a light on the world of interior design in a way that makes it inspirational, relevant and accessible.’
Merinda Garrett elaborates on the style of The Soulfull Home’s ideal consulting mission: ‘If we do the work and focus on our inner world, we connect to our deepest, core values of living with love, connection, compassion and community; these values will then be imbued in our homes. When we connect to what means something to us, well, we build our homes around that. Home then becomes a place where we replenish and then we can take our best selves out into the world. From this perspective, we each have the power to change the world, from the inside… out. From inside ourselves and inside our own homes, to outside ourselves and outside our homes. Change is what transforms possibility into reality and it’s a huge undertaking and opportunity that, yes, can shake up our lives, but as it shines a light on discomfort it also is the great master and gift that teaches us to be malleable, flexible and to grow.’
Her brand of interior design, The Soulfull Home, is one which is distinct from the cosmetic realm of interior decorating. It is built on the premises that a home can be changed to reflect one’s true self. As a designer and a devout yogi, Merinda can teach us what she knows and inspire us to explore and embrace our power and show us the available tools to transform our homes.
Merinda asks us to question whether our core values are reflected in the way we move through the world. To ask ourselves what our footprint is. What impression do we leave on Mother Earth? Do we consume in a way that betrays your commitment to loving our planet?
If we consume mindfully, we curate with congruence and we can come to understand the narrative of the objects that populate our home. Who was the designer, creator, maker.. how did we come across them? Connecting with the stories behind the objects we live and interact with, every day. Our SoulFull Homes will become a living, breathing expression of our lives.
‘During the pandemic, our collective notion of what it meant to be social shifted as quickly and dramatically as our obligation to isolate,’ explains Merinda. Recently she shared a comprehensive and very helpful piece with a how-to tone on the platform Medium about embracing the new paradigm of working remotely, and effectively adapting our homes to support productivity, privacy, well-being and connection.
excerpts from her article:
A Pocket Space is:
A secondary space created within a primary space.
A micro space serving a function different to the room or area it’s located within.
A space delineated by objects rather than walls.
An intentional space.
A space that is aesthetically, functionally and energetically unique to its function.
An area that can serve one or more people.
Flexible, movable and unobtrusive.
Complements the primary space and isn’t an eyesore because it adds interest, dimension and texture to your home.
Home Design for the New Reality
With many of us working from home, sharing space with family, housemates and pets, there’s a renewed sense of connection to the space we call home. Our living rooms, dining room tables and kid’s bedrooms have become makeshift workplaces and classrooms. Our kitchens serve the function of coffee shop, café, restaurant and family ‘staffroom’. Our bathrooms are now a retreat from the spaces that have become multifunctional and multidimensional.
for isolation in isolation
Some of us are already living alone, others are sharing with family or housemates.
Either way, it’s important to nominate a sacred space in our home to support personal practices in solitude. An untouchable space, a personal retreat. It’s important that we create a place for movement, quiet, reflection, stillness and sanity.
Here’s a Quiet Pocket Recipe I recommend:
Location: Bedroom or walk-in closet can also be great, but natural light may be compromised
Qualities: Natural light, corner, facing a window or blank wall
Ingredients: A small altar, cushion(s), blanket, shawl, poncho, yoga mat, oil diffuser, noise cancelling headphones. I recommend a basket for blankets and wearables to keep the areas simple and neat.
Quiet Pocket with floor space for meditation, reading nook to left. Work Pocket with desk to right.
for home recreation
Just like work time, we also need play time. Whether it’s board games, conversation or a kid’s play area, there needs to be clear demarcation to prevent what I call ‘the creep’, the phenomenon when the objects we interact with during the day become intermingled and creep into areas where they don’t belong.
The overall concept is to have an easy ‘packaway’ system; for example, toys are spread on a sheet you can whisk away once it’s time for family time, study or meals.
Some folks don’t notice ‘the creep’. For others, like me, it’s excruciating.
Here’s a Play Pocket Recipe I recommend:
Location: Living room, dining room, kitchen, floor space, tabletop, countertop (benchtop)
Qualities: Natural light
Ingredients: Oil diffuser, cushion(s), blanket, sheet, rug. Again, I recommend a basket or stackable, sealable plastic container you can store in closets or under beds etc.
excerpts from article ends…
To work with Merinda Garret from The Soulfull Home in Australia means to design not only your home, but the way you live in it. Workshops are available upon request as deep down, Merinda believes, you are your own designer and you can connect with your inner wisdom to create your own vision. Merinda teaches us how to transform our home to express our deepest core values.
During a 5-week workshop together, you’ll transform your home to truly express your heart and soul and your values to become your sanctuary, temple and soulfull home.
There’s a virtual one-on-one client / designer relationship where you’ll be guided in refining your vision to kick-start your project.
Recorded Zoom consultations are recorded to be kept as a resource for references.
For the coaching option, together a brief will be crafted that outlines and summarises your project priorities.
Strategising, troubleshooting and streamlining are included in the implementation process.
The in-person and designing with what you have option entails a restyle, reimagining, reinvigoration plan to create a blueprint inspired by who you are and the way you live.
by Emilie Froment
residential interiors photography: Shannon McGrath for BG architecture