Creating A Seasonal Home - A Guest Post With Zoe Hooley | The Smallest Light. Natural Candles. Seasonal Living.

My Name is Zoë, I am a creative, a mother of two young children and an advocate for intentional and seasonal living. I am thrilled to be here today to write a guest post on creating a seasonal home in this beautiful space that Laura has created with nature at its heart – a subject I am very passionate about. Living in tune with natures seasonal rhythms has, over the years, become a way of life for me. Bringing my awareness to the subtle shifts within the natural world that occur with each new day, helps me to feel grounded and connected, gives my life a greater meaning and purpose and has also served as a form of healing over the last decade of living with a chronic illness.

When I immerse myself within nature I am able to tap into a deep presence. I become focussed on the beauty of an ancient wisdom that exists all around us. Sitting beneath a towering tree and looking up in to its branches, or up in to the night sky, at the stars and the moon, one can’t help but feel a part of something so fundamental and magical. These moments are available to all of us, they restore us and serve as inspiration and clarity for many of our lives endeavours, as well as flooding our minds and bodies with a sense of wellbeing and peace.

A sage green table top, with new plants growing out of nursery dishes. On the wall behind are 6 pages from a vintage plant growth book. Peeking in the frame to the right is a vase of tall stick-like plants without leaves. The colours are natural and muted, creating a relaxed feel.
Two busy shelves against a soft white wall. The lower shelf has an array of jars, ornaments and plants aligned on it. The higher shelf consists of house-shaped boxes again with little jars and natural looking ornaments. Above the shelves are 3 posters with colourful bug and plant illustrations. In the foreground is a tall bushy plant. To the left of the image, light from the window leaks in.

what is a seasonal home?

The word ‘Home’ – just four little letters, but a word that means so much! and if we are fortunate enough, just hearing the word Home is all it takes to conjure feelings of safety, warmth and comfort. Having a home to retreat to after being out in the world is such a blessing and something I truly give thanks for every day. I try as much as possible to create a home that nurtures us as a family and a huge part of that has been to create a seasonal home. All of the good feelings previously mentioned that nature has to offer, I want to feel when I step away from the fields, the woodlands, and the garden. I want to feel them also within our home.

We live in a quiet village in Derby, we have a small garden and are lucky enough to have an allotment plot where we grow lots of salad crops, flowers, fruits and vegetables. It will never fail to be anything short of amazing to me, that a tiny seed placed in the ground with a little nurturing, grows and provides an abundance of food to nourish and sustain us, and not only that but also produces many more seeds to begin the whole process again. ‘Growing your own’ means that you are regularly eating seasonal healthy foods, brilliant for both you and the environment.

Bringing a basket full of freshly harvested produce in to our kitchen, giving it a scrub and letting it be the starting point of inspiration for a meal to enjoy as a family, knowing that we all took part in nurturing that meal from the very beginning is a truly wonderful feeling. Even if you are new to gardening or only have a few pots on a balcony, a window box or a windowsill, there are lots of things you can grow – and I am over here cheering you on to give it a go.

Zoe is arranging a plant on a counter top. She is wearing a natural, oat coloured shirt and her hair is pulled back in a neat bun.
3 plates of colourful vegetables on a white wood background. The plates include beetroot, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes.

adding greenery to your seasonal home

One thing that people tend to notice in our house are the many plants. I have found that as well as looking beautiful, having lots of greenery in our home is really beneficial for my mental health. I guess they serve the same purpose as the garden and the allotment – a reciprocal relationship of nurturing. Studies have shown that surrounding yourself with the colour green promotes feelings of balance and harmony, self-acceptance, and compassion, and is brilliant for reducing stress and anxiety.

More often than not we also have flowers in every room of the house which sounds very  extravagant, but it’s not really, given that we live in a two up two down, and they are always simple inexpensive arrangements, usually in muted tones with lots of green. I try to buy flowers that are local and in season, which is something I feel we should try to consider as much a possible but with 90% of flowers sold in the UK being imported it can be tricky. One of my favourite places to put out flowers in our home is in the children’s room. It fills them with so much joy and I hope that they will look back with fondness when they are older at the flowers that were always by their bedside.

UK grown flowers I love are the flowering bulbs of Muscari, Narcissus, Hyacinth and Hellebores in the Spring, they look wonderful displayed indoors. Peonies, Sunflowers, Roses and Freesias make beautiful arrangements for the Summer months. Dahlias are wonderful cut flowers in Autumn. I also love to display branches of Autumn leaves with all their glorious hues. In Winter when local seasonal blooms are few and far between the children and I get wrapped up and go foraging for streams of Ivy, Old mans beard, and Conifer branches and use them to dress the fireplaces, with the addition of fairy lights it looks so beautiful. A simple way to create a more seasonal home.

foraging for natural decorations

I love to forage (responsibly) for things in the wild to enjoy at home. Anything from branches, meadow grasses, seed heads, wild flowers and foliage to pebbles, shells, washed up coral, old birds nests and pinecones regularly come home with me after a stroll. My husband stopped rolling his eyes a long time ago! In the early days there would be many a repetitional conversation along the lines of . .  ‘Do we really need more pinecones? What are you going to do with that birds nest? Or Where are those branches going to go? . . . After thirteen years he is quiet and simply smiles at his wild woman of a wife. 

There are markers through the year that we enjoy celebrating within our home besides Easer and Christmas. I have enjoyed over the years, familiarising myself with the mystical traditions of Imbolc, Beltane, Ostara and Samhain and on these days I like to pause and acknowledge these seasonal celebrations. The most important ones for us as a family are the Summer and Winter Solstice and the Spring and Autumn Equinox. We decorate our home with nature elements and after getting home from a family walk we usually have a special seasonal dinner, light the candles and give thanks for the season that has passed and welcome the new season in.

seasonal home ideas for children

Around the time of the changes in the four seasons throughout the year is the time when I will switch over the children’s nature area in their room. For example, for Spring Equinox I will display Spring blooms, Spring fairies and toy figures for them to play with such as lambs and rabbits and baby chicks etc. Whereas in Autumn I will change up the area with golden tones, home grown gourds and Autumn leaves, Autumn fairies and woodland toy figures such as the squirrel etc. Doing this means that they continually have seasonal elements within their surroundings and play, which in turn, means that it is within their consciousness and their hearts!

These seasonal home elements open up opportunities for learning whilst they are playing such as; How different animals are born in the Spring, Why does the squirrel bury his nuts in the Autumn?, or Which animals hibernate in the Winter? etc. It is here that the children will display their own nature finds too such as shells they’ve found at the beach as well as feathers, pebbles, seed-heads, sticks and pinecones. I will regularly walk in to their room to find them in the middle of a fantastical game involving a forest of pinecones, paths made from collected sticks, a fairy gripped in one hand flying on the back of a tiny owl held in the other with a fascinating seasonal based dialogue taking place and it is truly the most beautiful thing.

The children also have an area dedicated to seasonal books, so that when Winter draws to a close, those books will get put away until next Winter and out will come the Spring books, the Spring books will get put away with the arrival of Summer and so on and so forth. The arrival of each seasons books is cause for much excitement in our home, it means that the conversations around what to look for in nature within the four pillars of the year are ever flowing and engaging. One of the nicest thing about having a young family is starting our own traditions and this has defiantly become a very special one of ours.

embracings the seasons at home

During those four pillars of the year I make subtle changes throughout our home that although small, have a big impact and mean that we are held in comfort within the present moment. In Spring and Summer all of our Winter wears are put away and changed for lighter layers. In Autumn and Winter those all get put away and out come the cosy woollen socks, jumpers and cardigans once again. For Spring and Summer, I like to change the bed linens ready for the warmer evenings and then of course in Autumn and Winter out come the fleecy layers and blankets and hot water bottles. I arrange for the chimney to be swept at the end of Summer ready for the colder months and order a delivery of wood for the wood store.

In the Summer you will find me sat where the sun has let itself in through the window with a fresh juice and a salad, where as in Autumn and Winter there are stews and soups bubbling on the stove, the candles are lit and there is always a hot cup of tea in my hands. Honouring the seasons within your surroundings changes the way you live, and to live in tune with natures shifts is deeply nourishing.

using natural scents to celebrate the season

No matter what the season there will always be windows open allowing breezes to enter our home, keeping the air fresh and the energy flowing. I burn lots of incense to the same effect. The essential oils I drop in to our baths and in to the diffuser change depending on the time of year, cleansing the space and setting the mood for the current season, light and airy in the Spring, sweet and floral in the Summer, warming and nourishing in the Autumn, energising and uplifting in the depths of Winter. I really enjoy using the seasonal wax melts from the Smallest Light and they have become a beautiful part of our seasonal home, flooding the space with carefully blended scents. I treated myself to a hand thrown ceramic burner from another, small business creative to use them with and the whole experience is really wonderful.

Natural Living with The Smallest Light
Creating a seasonal home with Zoe Hooley

I will bring my time here to a close by saying that . . . Whether it is popping out to the pots at the back door to snip a few herbs for your cooking, or burning a different candle in the Summer than you would in the Winter, displaying local blooms in the Spring or acknowledging the joy of bringing out the Winter woollens, you are living seasonally perhaps without even realising, which is great. Perhaps you could also ask yourself, How could I deepen the experience? How could I nourish myself more fully? In which ways could I tune in more and invite even more presence? Taking those moments to truly take stock of what is happening in nature and bringing that in to your home environment too will make way for more fulfilment in your life and for a more tangible experience of that fulfilment which is a win-win for sure. Let us go forth with a renewed energy to celebrate natures seasons in our lives.

Do feel free to come over and say Hi to me on Instagram where I share seasonal, nature-based photography and creative writing.