The philosopher John Locke, one of the thinkers who inspired the American Revolution, had a theory about the human mind; he said it was a like a blank slate, or “tabula rasa,” waiting to be inscribed with information and experience.  The new year gives us an opportunity to wipe clean the slates of our lives and living spaces, freeing ourselves to become inscribed with new selves.

The snow laid out on the ground like a blank page quietly suggests notions of trimming away, looking inward, making space for silence and solitude in our busy, obligation-filled lives. While there is little-to-no snow currently in the Hudson Valley, we have created a Pinterest board where we gather images connected to this idea. With a quiet space, free of visual clutter clamoring at our peripheral senses for attention, our mind can more easily turn to a state that calms our nervous system and allows space for new, more creative thoughts to bubble up.

White is the color most often associated with the kind of minimalism dominating the inspiration board we pinned, but it needn’t be. Its opposite can be just as effective, depending on your tastes. Any color that has an immediate positive effect on mood and quieting effect on mind can be used. A technique interior designers sometimes employ to add a minimalist, modern, monochromatic effect is to extend the paint chosen for the walls over and onto the door-frames, doors, and moldings in a defined space. To prevent a monochromatic paint scheme from becoming oppressive, consider layering ambient, accent, and task lighting suitably for that space’s function and location. Consult our Lighting Essentials guide for in-depth details on building the light just right in your new "blank slate" space.

We are living in the age of information overload. Creating a space at home or at work that allows our minds to be supple and reflective and our energy to be focused can potentially revitalize us, cleaning off the slate and making space for new information and new ideas.