Most people want peace and comfort where they live. Yet the current pandemic and the emphasis on staying home have further emphasized the desire to put the “OM” in “HOME.” 

“Instead of spending money on travel, entertainment and eating out, everyone is focusing on their [living] spaces,” said decorator Hattie Sparks Collins. 

When creating a calming space, Collins uses a multi-sensory approach that includes soothing colors, sink-in seating, soft-touch textiles and ambient lighting. For clients who want a neutral palette, she is a fan of Benjamin Moore’s “Maritime White,” as well as pale taupes and grays. For clients who want color, she advises lightening a color with white or creating a softer, dustier shade by adding gray. Lilac, dusty rose or green, and light pink terracotta are current favorites.

Selecting furniture, says Collins, should be a hands-on proposition. If buying a sofa or chair online, she recommends visiting a local store to try it out, if possible, and choosing one of several types of filling: down cushions, a poly/down mix that holds its shape while still having a feather feel, or a down alternative. While there are many faux leathers, she steers clients to vintage brown leather pieces that are already broken in, have the patina of age and can be repaired if needed. She recommends accessorizing with footstools, vintage throws and quilts, which she sources from Etsy.com and from local retailers such as Merchant House.  

“I mix pieces from large retailers with special standout pieces that complement the client’s home and have a story behind them,” said Collins, who collects quilts by Gee’s Bend, a collective of African American women quiltmakers in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. 

Layering of other textiles such as rugs and window treatments adds to the visual and tactile coziness of a room and buffers noise. Collins suggests laying a vintage patterned rug over a larger jute or sisal rug, recommends velvet Roman shades for quiet environments with a touch of luxury, and notes that the more drapery are lined the better the noise reduction. 

Because eliminating clutter makes a space feel calmer, Collins advises investing in storage items that are both attractive and functional. Lidded baskets and trunks are useful for corralling blankets, toys and other items, as are flip-top benches, banquettes and window seats with drawers or hidden compartments. Collins’ final suggestions for truly Zen surroundings with restorative benefits: scented candles and a Sonos speaker that can be programmed for a single room or the entire house.


  1. Pair a vintage leather chair with a loose weave throw and a 20-24” inch drink table that has room for a drink, a book and a scented candle.
  2. Add a low footstool rather than a matching ottoman.
  3. Forego a table lamp and choose a floor lamp with a dimmer and a soft white bulb.

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ABOUT THE DESIGNER

Hattie Sparks Collins began her career in retail as owner of the eponymous Hattie Sparks boutiques, then worked as a retail consultant helping mid-size stores expand their brick and mortar operations. After renovating several properties and helping friends with their homes, she made the shift to decorating in 2020 and enjoys the hunt for unique pieces.