Ultimate guide to creating your sanctuary space - Part 1

Ultimate guide to creating your sanctuary space - Part 1

What comes to mind when you think of a sanctuary space? Cosy corner with a comfortable chair and a soft warm luxurious throw, a stack of great books and a steaming cup of coffee? Or a Spa like bathroom with divinely luscious bubble bath, aromatherapy candles, relaxing music and a glass of wine? Or a bedroom filled with sumptuous cushions and linen, relaxing in silk pj's, beautiful artwork and a soft calming colour scheme?

We asked New Zealand interior designers what they thought about creating a sanctuary space and asked them to give us their top tips on creating a space that is relaxing, calming and restful.

A space that nurtures and allows stillness, and a place that can also be multi-functional and support a range of activities within it" – Amanda, Designworxnz

Amanda at Designworxnz has been designing and transforming interiors for more than 20 years and is passionate about helping clients fall in love with their spaces. Having been involved in the world of colour and teaching the psychology of colour at Auckland Design school, Amanda understands how colour can change the feel of a room and support wellbeing.
Blue and white bedroom, New Zealand interior design
Blue and Gold bathroom, designworxnz

Amanda, what comes to mind when you think of the phrase “my sanctuary”?

Our homes, more than ever, have become our focal point. They are our spaces supporting work, living, family, exercise, sleeping, dining and social experiences in our bubbles. I think our focus on our homes will be incredibly important over the next while. A safe place to return home to, a space that nurtures and allows stillness, and place that can also be multi-functional and support a range of activities with in it. When I think of “my sanctuary” I think of all these aspects and how they will support our health and well-being on every level.
What are some things you use to help create your own space to relax and de-stress in?

I use a number of design elements to create a relaxing space. Colour is a big one as I choose colours that my mind and body respond to both physically and psychologically. Colours that are warm and soft, like soft greens which calm the nervous system, and warm off whites that feel light and airy, and are slightly yellow based.
What design elements should a person look for when trying to create their own sanctuary space?

There are so many design elements that can support a feeling of calmness and relaxation, in fact every design element can do this if it is the right one. 

Line - choose lines that are softer and more flowing rather than sharp and jagged
Form - again, round shapes that are softer like round or oval coffee tables
Colour- choose colour that supports how you want to feel, for example darker colours can make a space more intimate, lighter colours give a sense of space and freedom.
If money were no object, what is the one thing you would buy to help you relax and unwind? Or, where would you go?

I would go back to India where I spent 2 months with my daughter a couple of years ago. I have journeyed to some of the most remote places like Spiti Valley where the sky is huge and the roads are insane. I even spent a 2 hour conversation with the Dalai Lama over 30 years ago… before he was so famous. I have had some wonderful, challenging, soul filling adventures.  Part of my heart is in India, I would go back in a heart beat.

More ideas from Amanda at:

Website: www.designworxnz.co.nz

"Life is very hectic, when I think of sanctuary, I lean towards stillness in space" - Katherine, KMG Design

Kathrine McDonald Design is an interior design company based in Mount Maunganui specialising in residential and commercial projects.  Her aim is to create cohesive and sophisticated spaces which enhance clients lives and well-being.

White and blue lounge sanctuary by KMG

Bathroom design by NZ interior designer KMG

Katherine when a client asks for a sanctuary space, what are the first things you think of? 

I think of calm resolved spaces, warmth, somewhere you can relax, quiet time to think or read and reflect or even meet with a friend and have meaningful, fun conversations.  It does not necessarily mean that you are alone in this space.  

What do you surround yourself with when creating your own relaxing space? 

A chair and footstool, natural light and a beautiful woolen throw in winter and a good book – peace and quiet.

What are some of your favourite ways to help clients create their own sanctuary?

Quite often we will look at furniture locations, a corner of a space which has natural light, even a pendant light that is hung really low, so it has a connection with the furniture. We might choose a beautiful occasional chair (with timber elements) upholstered in a linen fabric.  Or perhaps a gorgeous window treatment like interior shutters or sheer curtains in natural fibres that filter the light. We love to use a gorgeous side table or floor lamp and, depending on the client, greenery is also another way to bring the outdoors in.

Natural elements – a connection to nature. 

What design elements do you suggest we look at when trying to create our own sanctuary space? 

Natural light, calm serene interior spaces, furniture with natural features and textures, timber elements, natural fibres and minimal aspects of design, not cluttered overpowering zones and greenery. 

Calming blue and cream lounge. Sanctuary space ideas from KMG

If money were no object, what is the one thing you would buy to help you relax and unwind? Or, where would you go?

I have always wanted to travel to the Maldives – that would be on the top of my ultimate wishlist for a relaxing and unwinding location.  Time to read and relax in a beautiful setting, to slow down the pace of life and enjoy warmth, light and the connection to outdoor spaces. 

More ideas from Katherine at

Website : www.kminteriordesign.co.nz
Instagram : mcdonald.kathrine


See Part II of our blog guide to sanctuary spaces