What the Art in Your Home Can Say About Your Emotional Well-Being

Photo: Stocksy/Maa Hoo
Have you ever looked at a friend’s super Instagrammable gallery wall in her apartment and wondered what it all means? Why did she pick that pretty Paris scene? What's the significance of the black-and-white sketched pug? Do the scenic landscapes have some emotional tie?

According to Elana Kilkenny, a New York City sacred space designer-slash-intuitive counselor, there’s a lot to be learned from the art you have in your home. “Art is a window into your soul,” says Kilkenny. “An image or type of art for one person can have a totally different meaning for another and the pieces we choose can reflect some piece of us, whether we’re conscious of it or not.”

The New York University grad first got into her unique form of interior design after a feng shui teacher identified her psychic abilities. Combining her love of psychology (her college major) and design with a unique intuition about what people need, Kilkenny now helps clients create homes that are as meaningful as they are beautiful. “Your home is an evocation of your heart and soul,” she says. “How can it nourish not only who you are now, but become a catalyst for your desires?”

“Art is a window into your soul.”

Of course, you may still say that sometimes you simply like what you like, but several of Kilkenny’s intuitive readings have provided strong evidence for a more meaningful reading of wall art. While visiting one client, a single woman who worked for and lived by herself, she noticed what she dubbed “a curated wall of loneliness” when she entered the home for the first time. “She had these gorgeous photographs of women that were all slightly out of focus,” she says. “While she was clear about her work, there was a lot of fogginess in her personal life.”

Kilkenny asked the client to select only the pieces she truly loved—pieces that represented the good parts of having a relationship with herself. Then Kilkenny reframed the chosen works and added in an image representing what love meant to her client: a photograph of morning light coming through a bedroom window. “It sounds simple, but that was the practical magic that helped her,” Kilkenny says. “Your home can be a way of changing your relationship [with yourself and others].”

“Your home can be a way of changing your relationship [with yourself and others].”

Another instance was when a male client, who seemingly had the "perfect" home asked for Kilkenny’s assistance. Throughout the impeccable space, there were paintings of ominous, overbearing figures hanging above the desk, the master bed and beyond. “It looked cool and photographed well but he was surrounded by it,” she says. What she uncovered was that the art could ultimately have been a representation of the client’s abusive father and Kilkenny sensed these images had to go.

Although she believes that some pieces should hang on your walls simply because you like them, she says that homes should also provide a sense of your past, present, and future, which can affect everything from your relationship to the way you approach work. “There’s an art to integrating who you are with who you’re becoming," she says. "Having pieces that remind you of your past and represent dreams for the future is truly important."

Want to find some new art that elicits your past and future intentions? Shop for pieces and work out with Well + Good at Art Basel in Miami next week! And if you still need convincing, heading to the epic art event could be good for your health.

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