The Need for Calm

By Kate Riley December 15, 2010

You know that holiday tune “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” ?  Well whenever I hear it, I often substitute these words. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year,

With the relatives yelling

And everyone selling you plastic reindeer!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

In my family, we make up new words to old songs just to amuse ourselves, we’re just strange like that.  Or perhaps you do that too. 

Joking aside, it’s true that even though December is a magical time of year, with little ones counting the days until Santa arrives, it can quickly become stressful and commercialized.  I try to take it all in stride and focus on more meaningful moments: making cookies with the kids, crafting, decorating the tree, snuggling up with Christmas movies, and remembering the reason for the season.  I read this on Laurel’s blog the other day, “Sure, the season is hectic, but you only have a few years to put tradition in their hearts.”   So true!

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, there are always moments when I need a little peace and I seek an escape.  When I feel the need for calm.  For me, often that’s dreaming about pretty places.  Time spent with family and friends is priceless, but there is something to be said for the desire to transform the places in which we live into calming spaces.  It’s why we read shelter magazines and follow good design.  It’s why we write about our own spaces and read other blogs ~ we seek to be inspired.   

elmbourne road light locations

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so when I seek serenity, quite often I turn to sites or images that inspire me.  I love magical airy ethereal spaces that instantly make me breathe a little deeper, and make me want to curl up with a good book and some tea.

I found Light Locations earlier this year (can’t remember which blog sent me to it) and I was smitten.  Every time I return, there is some new featured home to love.   

light locations living room

When it comes to spaces, “calm” means different things to different people.  For some it is intense color or natural organic textures.  For others, ‘calm’ means clean lines or minimalist design. 

To me, ‘calm’ spaces always have this in common: plenty of light, the richness of wood accents, subtle but interesting patterns that inject color, painted pieces of furniture, and vintage finds.  Clean spaces that appear collected over time.

kids room light locations

light locations bedroom 1


These rooms have me dreaming of those peaceful moments that come the day after Christmas, and those quieter times before a New Year begins. 

 rowboat light locations


I also love to visit Light Locations because you can download their wallpapers for your desktop just to keep you inspired, or better yet, introduce that calm. 

light locations wallpaper

All images courtesy of Light Locations

What is it that calms you during this busy season?




  1. Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed I love to look at inspirational photos…somehow they make me feel calm for just a few moments. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful site! I am loving it already!

  2. This is soooo true. Its so very easy to get overwhelmed & forget about spending time with those you love & not in the stores buying gifts & baking & everything that comes with this busy season. Hoping your holiday is safe & happy!

  3. Those pictures are awesome and very calming. Deep breath…yikes gotta run…still tons of Christmas shopping left. Maybe I’ll come back and look at those pics again later. :)

  4. What a great post! When I feel overwhelmed, I always take a deep breath and try to find a place of solitude, even if its a place with lots of people around, I find something that I can do for me :)

  5. Hi Kate…thanks for the beautiful images and link. I stumbled across your blog which led to me discover all of BLOGLAND a few months ago. All I can say is, “Is there a 12-step program for blog addiction?” but seriously…I love your style, and you have a talent for writing, so keep up the great work! I have a quick question for you, my husband and I lean more towards an Old World/Tuscan style of decorating, do you know of any blogs that are about that style of decor? How would I go about trying to find them? I’ve googled Old World blog, and Tuscan decor…to no avail. Anyway, I thought I’d ask you, or maybe some of your subscribers would know. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge/home/time with the world. I truly appreciate it!!! Happy holidays :)

  6. What calms me is to slow down and take time to do some hand sewing, like a binding on a quilt or some quiet time to read and reflect. My “children” are adults so life is very different at Christmas time for us now. They come and sleep over Christmas Eve and we have to wake them up on Christmas morning!

  7. So true. I avoid the mall, which keeps things calm. But then, on the other hand, I am sewing and making most of my gifts this year. . . which is stressful. But when I’m sitting at the sewing machine with it rattling away, there’s nothing I can be but calm. Also, I look forward to the week after Christmas, when I’m off of work, and will be painting and totally overhauling my office. It’s a much-needed makeover, AND hours of painting and sewing and building will be very calming. Like a wind-down from this stress.

  8. It’s nice to hear someone else admit that this time of year can be stressful. Everyone knows it, but no one wants to admit it and possibly sounds like a “grinch.” It makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one who could use a break. And thanks for that link to Light Locations!

  9. Your photos just calmed me (to answer your question). Love the bedspreads on the twin beds and the striped rug in between… love the french inspired white washed bed (I have one similar to that in my attic – waiting for me to put in a guest room someday maybe when the boys are grown and gone). Then there’s that boat picture with the soft green grass – ah, I could almost hear the June bug in the background ;)


  10. Agreed! I try not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle… My 2 year old grounds me… He has no clue its christmas…he hasn’t yelled “mom! I want this” during every commercial. We live in sunny So.Cal. and I have found myself a few tines this week sitting out in the yard taking in the fresh air and letting the sun beat on me, as I watch him enjoy the little things…pulling his wagon and trying his hardest not to flip it over…throwing dirt…seeing how high he can kick his flip flops off into the air…
    Thanks for this post…made me stop and say ahhhh….

  11. Those photos ARE calming! So pretty, I feel as though I just took a big deep cleansing breath by looking at this post!

    At this time of year, I am constantly thankful for taking up the practice of yoga. It keeps me from going utterly insane with all the stress and events of the season!

  12. Listening to music calms me during this hectic season. I stay out of stores as much as possible during the holiday season.

    Those are beautiful rooms. After the holidays I love taking down the decorations and soaking up the simplicity once again.

  13. I know it may be a little silly, but when I get stressed out, overwhelmed, or just sick of the cold, I turn the heat up full blast in my car, put on Kenny Chesney’s “All I want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan” song, and pretend I’m in the islands. I so badly want to escape one year, just me and husband, or us and some friends, and not have to worry about the stress of having to visit our 4 families.

    For those 3 minutes, I am someplace warm and relaxed, and I always feel better. :)

  14. Soothing music with aromatic candles lit and a good book with a glass of wine….

    Last day to enter my giveaway from Fifi Flowers value $200!

    Art by Karena

  15. Oh, how I love white. I mean, really love white. To those who can pull it off, I tip my hat! These places remind me of summer, water, purity and light. Lots and lots of light. Thank you for sharing a burst of calm in my otherwise hectic day!

  16. Thats so funny abou making up the words to traditional Chistmas songs. A girl friend and I did that in grade school, it goes:
    I’m dreaming of a pinkpurplepolkadotted Christmas,
    Just like the one’s I never knew.
    Where the tree tops break off,
    And children take off,
    To see the Elvis Prestley show.

    I’m dreaming of a pinkpurplepolkadotted Christmas,
    With every valentine I write.
    May your days be dreary and dull,
    And may all your Christmas’s be pinkpurplepolkadotted too!

  17. I am in love with the cabinet in the second photo. The best part about it is the how shallow it is. It doesn’t take up too much space. I can relax with rooms like these anyday. Kind of makes me think I should paint my house white.

  18. Back in the day, getting committed to “four white walls” wasn’t a good thing. Now, however, I crave that kind of peace!! :) Ok, I mean like in a glorious room like any one of these you’ve shown…

  19. perfect timing! When I feel overwhelmed I close my eyes for 10 min or read books to the kids. It also helps to try to tackle one thing at a time (ahemm.. I should be taking not giving this advice) :)

  20. Amen, Sister! You hit the nail on the head with this one!

    I am finding the benefits of hot chocolate or steamed milk this season. It just gives me a moment to push everything else aside, and enjoy my drink.

  21. I love calm spaces. I tried to ask everyone how they relax during the Christmas season, but alas; no responses — Ha! I thought that said it all!! Thanks for the reminder – to relax.

  22. I totally do the same when I need an escape, these pics definitely do the trick! I love all of the airy, light and pretty. Thanks for sharing…love your blog!

  23. Hi Kate;
    You hilarious girl! love the funny song, and can’t believe you are blogging right up til party time- (I really can though)
    … My secret to calm at Christmas.
    #1 STAY OUR OF MALLS And their PARKING LOTS which are the biggest stressors of all!
    #2- Visit Home Goods., the Dollar Stores, Hobby Lobby-( park right in front-) after you’ve seen all the best ideas from your favorite bloggers!
    #3. Music, Music, Music!

    Oh and Natalie, I laughed out loud when I read your post- Welcome to the club, hon… I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven once I found Centsational Girl, Rhoda at Southern Hospitality plus Joni in my home state of Texas, at Cote de Texas……! Hope you find the site you’re seeking… meanwhile enjoy all the fun of bloghopping!

    Merry Christmas to all !

  24. A hot bath always works wonders for calming me down. Just sit back, relax, soak and take deep breaths. I agree with Alice in that I avoid the malls and parking lots when packed. I’ll go on a week night or week day afternoon. Weekends are insane. Love the site. Those pictures are lovely.

  25. Kate…I totally relate…sometimes, I feel silly for getting such a calm from pictures…but I do, and I have to trust that this is the way God made me. For me, looking at things..whether it’s the creation around me or things that people have created with their own hands…I find peace and joy and calm in this hectic, busy, chaotic world.

    love your photos…especially the one of the boat in the water….talk about calm!!!

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