Meet artist and designer, Mary Evelyn Pritchard! She has recently started her own business called Home As Affirmation. So much more than interior design, her consultations are an opportunity to "collaborate with your home to support your wellbeing." As Mary Evelyn puts it "We use the medicines of attention and intention and apply them through the art of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of placement."
As you might already know, affirmations accompany the clothing I make by hand and dye using only what can be found out in nature, and can be returned to nature through compost. In Vedic philosophy our bodies have many sheaths or layers - physical, energetic, mental, spiritual, bliss. Just as there are layers to the body, there are layers to the containers for the bodies starting with what we feed it and moving out to how we shield it from the elements and then to our environment and how it is cared for.
I am a firm believer that our outer layers that shield from the elements play a big role in how we feel, not only by the materials they are made from (including what was used to process and grow the crops that make them), i.e. the intention woven into the cloth, but also by the emotion or intention we give them upon entering our lives. So I felt it only natural for me to highlight an artist treating the home with a similar loving attention, affirming the wellbeing of our bodies and lives through carefully considered arrangement of elements with an overarching care and respect for the natural world.
As is true with any practice, this practice is all about progress, not perfection.
What is Home As Affirmation?
I consider Home As Affirmation to be a healing practice in which we collaborate with your home to support your wellbeing. We use the medicines of attention and intention and apply them through the art of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of placement.
What inspired you to create HAA?
I’m an artist and designer that has been working intuitively with homes since childhood. Over a decade of chronic health concerns developed into a crisis in my early twenties and that experience became a gateway through which an entire new way of living emerged and my work shifted from a focus on aesthetics to one of healing. At that time I moved from Brooklyn to Woodstock, New York and started working with plant medicine and studying Feng Shui. As I reconnected my self and home with the energies of the natural world, healing happened. Then in early 2016 I completed the training for my Feng Shui Certification at the Earth Home School of Feng Shui with Master Tisha Morris in the lineage of Black Hat Tibetan Buddhist Feng Shui. Only a few months later, I was powerfully invited to put my studies into practice when my husband and I found ourselves working through a complete home renovation following a water damage nightmare. This process was long and intensely challenging, but it was an initiation into this work in the deepest of ways and launched HAA into being. Since then I‘ve witnessed profound shifts in the lives of those open to receiving this work. I‘ve shared it in homes, workspaces and businesses, with those struggling and those celebrating, those longing for change and those in the midst of it. With each session I grow deeper in belief and gratitude and more inspired to continue sharing this practice.
What are your favorite parts of your own space? How do they affect you?
Ideally we learn to really love and appreciate all areas of our home (on an energetic level this mirrors fuller self love and appreciation) and I have to say that while I am fortunate enough to have a home with many, many areas that bring me joy, it’s still a work in progress. As is true with any practice, this practice is all about progress, not perfection.
That being said, our bathtub is one of my favorite parts. From a Feng Shui perspective, it’s located in our “wisdom and self cultivation” corner and I find that it’s an area of great clarity and personal revelation. I do a lot of healing work in that tub and I’m endlessly grateful for it.
Our living room is another favorite spot. It’s plush with a giant low sofa and mattress on the floor. It’s a lovely place to land. Two of its walls are made almost entirely of glass and the way the light dances in that space makes me feel such joy and really connected to the outdoors and beautiful woodland surrounding the house.
The willingness to think about your space as a “some one” invites deep connection, stewardship and reciprocity. When we take care of our homes, they take care of us.
What are some of the ritual aspects of maintaining a HAA? Daily practices?
In my experience, having a living relationship with the home is the foundation from which rituals and practices grow. The willingness to think about your space as a “some one” invites deep connection, stewardship and reciprocity. When we take care of our homes, they take care of us. This can look different for each of us, but for me it looks like regularly grounding myself in the space with an openness to listen to whatever comes through. I think if this as a meditation. It also means regular space clearing; this includes burning dried plants and incense, frequent cleaning and decluttering, intuitively moving things around to facilitate change, all completed with care and intention to encourage stronger results. In addition, I like to make offerings to our home; fresh flowers in a vase on the dining table, a beautiful found rock or feather on the kitchen counter, a love note pinned to a wall. This giving gives back to me and all who spend time in our home.
Our spaces can be thought of as a prayer or affirmation we’re speaking into being or calling into reality.
If you could advise a few small changes that anyone could affect today (towards creating a home as affirmation) what would they be?
In the most basic sense, I encourage you to start thinking about your home as a reflection or extension of yourself. Is your home always messy? Is there clutter, things you’d rather not deal with, tucked away in places you avoid? Or in the other extreme, is it overly minimal with little warmth or depth? Is it somewhat neglected or loved and full of life? It’s really quite remarkable; the more I do this work, the more reinforced is this idea that our homes are full of metaphor for our lives. One fun and valuable way to approach this is thinking about your home as a giant vision board reflecting out into the world who you’d like to be. This is what I mean by Home As AFFIRMATION. Our spaces can be thought of as a prayer or affirmation we’re speaking into being or calling into reality. If you don’t feel good about what your home is reflecting, consider what changes you can make, big or small. Any change paired with intention can be so, so powerful.
You also had the chance to make responsible environmental choices in the design of your home. Can you speak to a few of those big decisions.
Wonderful question! And I wish I had a simple answer, but there are so many ways to think about environmentally responsible design.
On the one hand there is the incorporation of green building practices, which we were fortunate to be able to utilize in our home renovation. The access to the necessary resources (albeit in the form of a large renovation loan) was a privilege that’s not available to so many. Honestly it was a stretch for us financially, but we felt that if we were faced with the opportunity to put our house back together that it was our responsibility to do so in a way that was as conscious as possible. For us that looked like using green and natural materials as much as we could and sourcing them locally if available. We also focused highly on efficiency. All doors and windows needed to be replaced so we did so with higher efficiency versions. We used continuous insulation around our house, and because of this, it takes far less energy to heat and cool our home compared to standard buildings. We used high efficiency appliances throughout and everything in our home is run from electricity, with the goal of going 100% solar as we are financially able.
On the other hand, there is environmental consciousness in what we bring into our homes when we furnish and decorate them. Somewhat more accessible, although still not for so many, this can include utilizing second hand as much as possible
On the other hand, there is environmental consciousness in what we bring into our homes when we furnish and decorate them. Somewhat more accessible, although still not for so many, this can include utilizing second hand as much as possible. I would say that at least 75% of the furniture in our house is from thrift stores or hand me downs from friends or family. Older pieces are often well made and have longer lives. We also chose natural materials as much as possible, aiming to avoid furniture and decor made from materials with higher toxicity and off gassing. It’s amazing what‘s often used in the manufacturing of furnishings and home items, especially in our country where regulations are far behind others.
I believe that being a good steward to your home and the land on which you live (whatever that looks like for you) is arguably more important than all of the above when we’re talking about environmental responsibility. I think our planet wants more than anything for us to come back into good and conscious relationship with it.
And finally, I believe that being a good steward to your home and the land on which you live (whatever that looks like for you) is arguably more important than all of the above when we’re talking about environmental responsibility. I think our planet wants more than anything for us to come back into good and conscious relationship with it. Reconnecting ourselves and homes with the natural world and its energy is paramount to this approach and this is available to all of us. I find Feng Shui to be wonderfully helpful in cultivating this connectedness and reciprocity, but I feel there are so many paths to do this. To quote the poet Rumi, “There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
What can be expected in a Home As Affirmation consultation?
To begin, I ask each client to fill out an “exploratory” questionnaire before our session. This is an intake form of sorts. It prompts you to consider which areas or aspects of your life might be needing support. I also ask that you send me a floor plan of your space. This can be actual architectural drawings if you have them, but is usually just a quick and simple sketch from your memory. This gives us all we need to begin our work together. We meet at our arranged session time, in person or remotely, and work together to establish contact with your space. We’ll use my favorite Feng Shui tool, the Bagua map as our guide to investigate your home’s energetics, working to increase its flow and focus our attention and intentions on the areas of greatest concern. Together we cultivate an action plan for changes to be made. For the greatest results, these changes are introduced ceremoniously and with great care. I help you with this aspect. The results will be felt. We will set up a time for a check in a few weeks after where I can follow up on your progress and answer any additional questions that may have come up.
How should someone interested in a consultation get in touch?
~ All photography by Mel Barlow ~