Every morning right after her shower, Vanita Nargund comes down to a room that was once an office but is now what she calls “God’s room”. She lights two oil lamps from her childhood home in South India, sits cross-legged on a rug, and focuses her mind on what is most important to her, things that transcend her days of working in accounting near Princeton, New Jersey. Lately, she prayed for her 86-year-old father and three sisters still in India, asking Hindu deities to protect them from COVID. His words are sweet but urgent and full of his love: “Give them the strength and courage to fight.”

Whether called prayer, focus, or just dealing with the stress of the day, these moments of focus are deeply personal, so it makes sense that few people have sought professional help in designing a perfect setting for them. Yet, according to a recent ASID trend report, one of the results of the “big break” of the pandemic year is that people are increasingly determined to create dedicated spaces in the home for this. type of interior recovery and restoration. “Designers have the opportunity to support their customers as they look to their homes for increased peace and mental well-being,” says Susan Chung, vice president of research and knowledge at ASID.

Princeton-area interior designer Freda Howard, who is Catholic, helped Nargund improve his office-turned-sanctuary by asking probing questions about Hindu traditions. “I was educated myself,” says Howard, who worked with a master cabinetmaker to customize a modest mandir (a wooden altar that can resemble a two-story sideboard) to hold the copper oil lamps. of Nargund, flowers and silver statues. Howard has also placed a low daybed at the back of the room so that Nargund’s older parents can rest on it when they can visit again.

In the Kansas City metro area, interior designer Brenda Anderson has created meditation spaces for two clients with entirely different spiritual practices, but she sees commonalities in which the design elements work best. “I generally like to accessorize, but now I realize that simplicity itself is at the center,” she says. In Los Angeles, designer Sarah Barnard incorporated gentle questions about personal well-being into her interviews with clients. “I think we’ve always had a need for restoration, but maybe now because of all the things we’ve collectively come to a place where people are more open and honest with their needs,” she says.

Barnard recently created a “sensory wellness room” for a client with chronic migraines and insomnia. And she made a number of pocket altars in the halls or the troughs of the stairs. Usually they’re pretty straightforward, just a nice table adorned with a few special items that her customers have collected, like a smooth stone picked up on a honeymoon. “You talk to people about what inspires them,” she says. “What could improve their mood on a difficult day?”

A pocket altar designed by Sarah Barnard.

Photo: Steven Dewall