October 26, 2022

The Soulful Home Design Guide: Natalia Kaylin

Your home is an extension of you. Through art, furniture and other tokens of your time, your space tells your story. Your home reveals whether you’re happy or sad, loved or lonely, content or anxious. Without an intentional touch, your home will tell a story, you no longer want to live in. My guest today has studied with renowned Fung Shui and meditation masters. She combines science with esoteric traditions to achieve a unique and empowering design.

She has helped thousands of people change their lives and homes. I’m excited for today’s Author Hour episode. I’m your host, Hussein Al-Baiaty. I’m here with Natalia Kaylin, who’s getting ready to help us all live a little better with her new book, The Soulful Home Design Guide. Let’s jump into it.

Okay, everyone. I’m here with the amazing Natalia Kaylin. Natalia, give our listeners a little bit of an idea of your personal background. How you came to do the work that you’re doing now? 

Natalia Kaylin: Sure. Great. Thank you for having me. I’m a research engineer by training. My specialty is laser systems in the field of medicine and telecommunications, believe it or not. People often ask me what made me to switch to do something so different. The thing is that I was always interested in meditation and eastern and western esoteric traditions. One of my favorite quotes of all times, is one of Albert Einstein’s, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art in science.” Fung Shui is science and art, so it satisfies, so well, both of my interests. I remember there was a time when I was an engineer. There was a feeling that there was something missing out. I’m missing out the whole rich world of beauty, and colors, and shapes, and feelings out there, which is opposite from cold and impersonal engineering environment, right? 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Interesting. Yeah. You felt like you were missing out on this other part of maybe you or the world, or you and the world.

Natalia Kaylin: Yeah. The creative part of me, so my left brain was quite overly developed, but I guess there was a need to balance with creativity and just emotion and warmth. A big trigger, I remember was to switch when I moved in with my husband into a new, empty home. I had no idea where to start. I was 37. I’ve never had a home of my own. I was changing apartments every year. So my decorating style was very minimalistic, but something inside of me knew and wanted my home to reflect love and warmth and joy. I really clicked at that time with Fung Shui books, rather than just straightforward design books, because even at that time, I already felt that there is more to home that it just looks. It’s very important when we design our home to address the way it feels, whether it nourishes us on or not so much. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah. I very much agree with that, especially just having, just a beautiful energy in in your space is so important. I remember going through architecture school like we were talking about before I hit record. It started to give me a sense of ability to be intentional about one, how I see space and what occupies it. I think the way you discuss these variety of approaches in your guidebook here, in your design guide. I just get excited, because it’s not — you’re right. It’s not just the color, right? It’s not just a plant. It’s not just a piece of art on your wall. There’s an intention to creating a feeling in your work, which I just love and appreciate, because feelings I feel are the things that drive us in our day. How we reflect in the world. Creating that space is so empowering. Tell me real quick. Who is your intended reader for the book that you’ve just written?

Awaken Joy in Your Space

Natalia Kaylin: It is a good question. I think mostly, my book is aimed for someone who is ready, who wants a change, who wants to experience more joy, and who is open to receive something more than they already have, something who is a little bit maybe unsatisfied with their environment. Let’s say there is actually a very simple test, whether your environment works for you or not. If you close your eyes, you can do it right now with me. Like if you close your eyes and imagine you’re coming home. Just slow down right before you open the door, so what is the feeling? What actually comes first? Is it the sense of that you’re going to meet your friend, someone warm and comfortable? Or there is a little bit of tension, irritation or is it natural? Just wondering what’s your response. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: For me, I always want to enter my home and just be reminded of how grateful I am, because my personal story is very — I lived in a refugee camp. We lived in a tent for four years. So for me to own a home today and to walk through the front door, and to see my father’s painting, it just brings me so much joy. The reason we picked our home or rather, maybe it picked us, was because I know so much sunlight pours into it. For me, that just creates, like you said, that creates a really warm feeling. I would say 100% of the time. I feel really excited to walk through my door, personally.

Natalia Kaylin: This is awesome. This is like, you got that, but of course you worked on it. You’re an architect. You went through a difficult time in your life. So you value things. You are open to—

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Right. Yeah. That was always my case, though. There was times where there was tension in my home, right, when I grew up with my siblings, and my mom, and dad. There’s just a lot of dynamics happening. There was times where I didn’t feel that at all. I knew I needed that one day. I would be able to change that, because like you said, studying architecture and even before that, I love my own space. I love having my own quiet place. So there was a knowing that that was going to happen at some point, but until it did, that’s when I really started feeling just in general, more calm. I see what you’re getting at here, which is beautiful. 

Natalia Kaylin: Yeah, absolutely. What you’re describing about your home, it sounds like intuitively you got that. That’s what I’m trying actually to help people to awaken in their home, in their life. My message is that, it’s not about — rules are good. I’m an engineer member, and I love following the rules. There are functionally rules, there are interior design rules. There are principles of environmental psychology, which is all great. We need that to create a solid base, solid foundation for us. I’m also talking about, creating emotional connection to our home. Here’s the thing, in order to connect with something or someone, you need to connect with yourself first, right? It is a mutual process. When you work on your home, you also open to those hidden and deeper parts of yourself. You learn more about yourself in the process. You learn more about your emotions, feelings, what’s working and what’s not working in your life. In the book, I offer some exercises to help along the way to discover and explore more about you, and what you want, and how to reflect it in your home. That’s in this sense your home becomes an extension of you. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I love that so much. Walking through your book, you made a very clear and you start off with a very beautiful approach. You call it your first things first. Can you tell us a little bit about that approach? 

First Things First

Natalia Kaylin: Yes. I started with Oprah, [a] quote from Oprah. She said that “I think when you invite people to your home, you invite them to yourself.” This says it all, right? Home is an extension of you. We create our home in certain states of mood, right? Sometimes we’re happy. Sometimes we are not. Sometimes we are tense. Sometimes we feel like we’re not enough. Therefore home becomes accumulation of various states of mind, various emotions. At times, it can become heavy. If we are not cleared out and create a new start. So once in a while, when we are ready for new start, it’s good to create a change in our home, right? Because otherwise your home is like, it’s not just that it has the energy. It is an energy, itself. 

Everything in home, all the material items, all the colors, all the living plants, so everything emanates certain type of energy and it creates basically this energy interacts with us with our own energy. It interacts with us, either in a harmonious way, or not so much, not in in very harmonious way. This is why I emphasize this idea of conscious design, or mindful design, or intentional design, so with a certain degree of awareness. It’s not just your home can be an expression of you how you are now. You don’t want it to be an expression of you how you were before, right? I want to over even taking a step further and saying why not express in your home a sense and feeling of what you want to become. Future you, so now we are talking about manifesting.

I know some people work with affirmations, and a lot of serious self-work, but if your home is expressing, old sense of you, or something that you’re not anymore, something that you don’t want to be any more. You grew out of it. Then your progress might be slow down. If you create a home, that’s really an expression of what how you want to feel. There are exercises in the in the book to do it. It doesn’t sound too simple, but it’s actually it’s not hard at all. Believe me. Because as you said, you enter in your home and there is plenty of light. There is a picture. There is a piece of art that you love, that you’re connected to. It’s tactile, right? It’s reinforcing something in you subconsciously, or consciously, anytime, right? Every time you see it. Every time like if you create the room so that everything emanates the way you want to feel, right? Then it nourishes you, right? 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah. I love that so much, because you really described in a physical form, what’s happening inside of you as well, right? It’s a reflection. I love your way of connecting those two worlds, because I seek to feel good. I want to make sure that the things around me are archived in a way that are positive, if it is around me. If it doesn’t suit me anymore, which I tend to do quite a bit, at least a couple times a year, I’ll go through and just really do what my wife and I call a deep clean. Where we just, the things that are hanging out that we just want to replace, move, dust off, and that always feel so good. There’s always rejuvenation. 

Even sometimes before I get into a task I really want to do. I love painting, I love writing. So working on my second book there’s this pressure, but what I like to do sometimes, and I know I’m weird is, I want to make sure my living room is clean. Then when I sit down and I just think about what I’ll be intentional. For some reason, it just organizes my thoughts, because I’m doing something physical. I just love your approach in saying. Okay, look, everything in your home, in a way shape or form, not only does it have energy, but the home itself is an energy. Therefore you can be intentional about creating the energy that you want to be surrounded by, which I just love. Then you go as far as manifesting, which is going into the future. 

It’s funny you say this like before I wrote my first book, I took another book as cover, and I just wrote with a sharpie, my book title. Then I just wrapped just another book that was just my book title. It said, Hussein Al-Baiaty and I just set it next to a pile of other books. This was maybe like a year and a half before I just started my book, right? It’s so powerful, what you’re saying and the connection, that how do you create the future and manifesting all these beautiful things. They’re all interwoven. There are interwoven energies. Your ideas here about just being intentional, but how to create that there are different things that you lay out in your book that are so amazing. What are some building blocks that you talked about, that we can utilize, let’s say today, this week, something that we can think about when it comes to our living room, or kitchen, or perhaps our bedroom? What would you share a tip or a piece of advice to help me think about those spaces in a new way?

Building Blocks

Natalia Kaylin: Building blocks. When I was thinking about my book, I thought, so that I didn’t want to write another functionary book. There are so many beautiful functional books out there. I wanted something different like bringing together functional with interior design here. The book structure landed to me so that I should talk. First, I should talk about so those things that our homes are created from which is colors, furniture, lighting, art, accessories, plants, and other natural objects. These are what I call building blocks. In the book, I go one by one. I describe are like a bit deeper meaning, not just shape and size and the placement of it, which I talk quite a bit about, too. How do you relate to that so far? Is it comfortable? Is it not? 

There was a client’s story in the book, she described that she bought a new sofa. The sofa was uncomfortable. The sofa was supposed to basically — they were going to use it with her husband to watch TV, to cuddle together. Slowly, she started to notice that she and her husband would spend less and less time together watching TV, because the sofa was just uncomfortable. When I talked to her about it, she said, “Yeah. I should probably return that sofa.” Which is just, basically, she could not return it anymore. It’s money lost, but it was so worth it to buy a new sofa, because her relationship with her husband was affected by it. Things like that, or a piece of art that dark and gloomy and uninspiring. Not something that you want to have in your home. 

If we talk about accessories, there are so many mindless or just accessories that just don’t have anything like, neutral. They just take in space. You don’t have any relation to it, whatsoever. I’m going in the book into deeper meaning of the colors also. Colors are so important, more important than people realize. Unfortunately, like now everybody is very fascinated with a gray color. There was an article in The Atlantic Magazine written by Amanda Mull, so and it’s called The HGTV-ification of America. You can’t escape gray floors. It was just excellent. It’s so correlates with what I’m talking about in the book. That in the last decade, HGTV created a trend promoting neutral and gray environments, as cheap signifiers of newness, and how much landlords and builders love it, and use it, because the gray laminate floors and subway tiles give a signal to the buyers that it’s newly remodeled, right. 

The trend spread to the home owners and so many people now are doing some gray. It’s either walls or furniture or rugs, a lot of it. Guess what? Neutral environment produces neutral emotions, right? Especially, gray color is there is not much energy in it. I’m definitely not saying that you have to paint every wall in different color and bright colors and all of that. Also, I invite people to actually utilize the color to maybe paint one wall, or if your environment is gray, so maybe balance it. Balance it with something with a very bright piece of art with a bright row, bright sofa, bright rug. Something that brings you joy. Otherwise you just feel neutral in neutral environments. That’s why – things like that. I go a little bit beyond the, just formal like regular meaning of those things. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah. I love that so much, because you’re 100% right. In the sense that color evokes emotion, evokes feelings. We know them. There’s an endless array of studies, of course, not only that you and I studied design and in the ideas behind design. I mean, just our natural world. I mean, it’s filled with color. When walking to a forest, whether you walk into a desert, or you walk into a blue lagoon, something about those colors and how they meet the eye creates an experience. It’s that balancing. There’s never a perfect balance. I think it’s a, it’s an action, right? It’s constant balancing. 

Okay for example, my wife and I, a couple years ago we were going through an emotional time, right? There’s some things happening.  I remember her saying just, “Let there just be light. I want to go outside. I want to be outside. I want fresh air.” You know what I mean? So it was so important to us to have an outside patio of some sorts. Thinking about how you feel, and then what is the feeling you want to create? Thinking about that holistically and implementing, whether it’s color of sofa, of rug, or the positioning of something. The idea is just move something around, so that it can almost subconsciously or like you said earlier. Consciously create a movement or change within you. The idea that this energy is here to serve you is so powerful. 

I love that emotional, harmonious intention that you’re trying to create to bring out the ideas of joy. I love that so much. You’re right. That the Home Depot shows — that what I like to call them, right, because there’s just a big advertisement for those companies, I really to push that really simple, neutral, but you’re right, neutral doesn’t do anything for you. So you might as well be intentional about what you want it to do for you. I love that. I love your ideology behind it. Can you share a story with us on how a client transformed their life practicing your principles, a client that perhaps works with you, or worked with you in the past?

Natalia Kaylin: Sure. There are so many. Let’s see. I have clients who work with me basically over the years, because it is a process. There are some like pretty fast, and people get good results right away. There is one story that comes to me, is about color. A client was an immigrant from Brazil. She was renting an apartment with all white walls. She was depressed and not happy and was trying to find her path, actually or what to do next? I could feel that she was a bit frozen, like a bit — like she was not connected to her heritage, to her roots, to her, basically, to her soul. What would be the best way to bring something in her? She loved the color. It’s a rental apartment, right? She couldn’t white paint, whatever she wanted, but she decided to paint one wall in her favorite color, which was orange rust kind of color, earthy color. 

Then when she would move out, she would paint it back white. She brought some things that would give her joy, would give her that she would be connected to. She bought a couple of things and some colorful things. Basically, she created very fast like just in a couple of weeks. She created an environment that was emanating something that she was connected to, and it gave her strength. It gave her joy. It gave her confidence. There were several things that changed for her at that time. She found a job. She found a partner. So basically became a happier person. I’ve been meeting with her later as well, for her different homes. I’ve been witnessing her growth in general, but that’s one of the stories that come to me. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Wow. That’s so powerful. Just to think just the idea of what we think. There are rules, of course when you’re in an apartment complex, those kinds of things, of course. But you know what, when you tell yourself, “I’ll deal with it when I leave, but while I’m here, I’m going to do something about this.” Right? By just applying her favorite color on one wall just started transforming how she feels. When you feel good, you go out in the world, feeling good, or doing good work, or meeting people with a smile of greeting. That changes your whole aura, your own energy, right? 

The energy that you give off and then you’re obviously able to open up to people who want to come in into your life, whether it be friends, or potential relationships, or business, or networking. All of these things, I’ve always felt that urge, personally, to make sure that whenever I’m leaving the house, I’m leaving at peace and coming back at peace. In Islam, we say, “Salaam-Alaikum.” So it’s the idea is like, “May peace be upon you.” But it’s, “May peace be upon me, as well.” Like I’m moving with peace. So I need to leave my house with peace, because I don’t know if I’m going to come back. When I come back, I’m so fortunate to come back to a home, right?

The idea is having that balance of gratitude, with intentional purpose, with making sure that we feel good. Like your friend did, your client, who literally changed how she is operating in life by changing one color. It’s one color at a time, right, one move at a time. Like you said, it’s a process that you evolve through. You can’t learn everything. We can’t just read one Fung Shui book and be like, all right, here’s how it’s going to be. Then it’s magically done. It seems like it’s an ongoing process, which is just the self-help world, right? The idea of, its continuous, its progress over time. That’s what matters. I love that so much. Natalia, I’ve learned so many different things from you today. Can you share with us just one or two things that you want people to take away from your book? 

Soulful Home

Natalia Kaylin: Well, I want people to take away the idea of a soulful home. What is actually a soulful home? I would ask myself, what is a soul? A soul is our inner essence. It’s experienced through our heart and feelings rather than from our mundane thinking. Soul relates to our ability to deal love, joy, peace, beauty, compassion and for us human beings to thrive, or even just to live a normal life. We all want and need to have a sense of safety, belonging and nourishment. Our environment can be part of this. Can provide us this sense of safety belonging and nourishment. I would ask people to keep going until basically keep tweaking to their space until it feels this way, until it feels – so there is a sense of like you, describe about your home. That’s how I feel about my home. 

The peace of like joy and satisfaction like you are coming home, like you’re meeting an old friend. This is a place where your soul can, basically where you can just be yourself. That’s a very, very important thing. That place where we can we can just be nothing more and nothing less. It’s not a big allowed feeling. It’s a feeling inside that makes us relaxed, knowing that everything is just going to be okay. That we are enough and we don’t need to prove anything to anyone or even to ourselves. This is my goal to unlock something and open something for people to see how this can be done. Yeah. I talk about in the book about ingredients and secrets of creating such a space. 

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yes. I love that so much. I cannot wait to sit with your book and devour it. I’m hoping for our next deep clean session, my wife and I can implement some of the principles you share. I love them so much. Thank you for writing your book and in giving this world a gift to help us in this time of the world, right, where we feel this anxiety, the stress, there are many things happening from pandemic to unfortunate wars, or disease. There is a higher level of stress. There is, of course, the additive of social media, and just media in general that likes to tell us that the world is in doom and gloom, but in reality what can we do to ensure that our self and our home, can give us a different type of energy, so that we go out in the world not feeling it’s going to end, but feeling we can change it, that we can improve it, that we can help it and having a more positive sunlight effect on it, if you will. 

Again, bringing it back to our personal joy, because I don’t think we can perceive the world as a beautiful, joyful place, if we don’t feel good on the inside. In your approach, Natalia, is that in order to help ourselves inside to where we live our lived environment is of the most importance, because shifting those things around in our home, ensuring that the things that we look at consistently when we want to relax are beautiful. That helps us regenerate that joy, and go out into the world and be more positive, and more loving towards one another, and compassionate. So that we can, I don’t know, in a way, make a better world. I don’t know. You tell me. 

Natalia Kaylin: Absolutely, absolutely. Thanks for bringing it up. The book is timely at this time of social instability and tension all over the world. Yes, there are so many challenges that many of us facing at this time. It is challenging time for me as well. I am an immigrant from Ukraine, and it hurts to witness what’s happening there. We now have three refugees from Ukraine living in our home. It is my hope that they will be nourished by my home as much as my husband and I are nourished. It’s my inspiration and hope, that if we take our attention from all the negativity that’s happening around and bring it to something that restores joy and light in our heart, so we will do a lot of good for ourselves, and for those around us.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I cannot agree with you any more. I’m so sorry to see and witness what’s happening, to be honest with you in your country, and what happened in my country in Iraq, and, sadly, what continues to unfold. However, I truly believe that people like you and I are, in a way, shape or form are messengers from those places to be perceived in a particular way to help those people in a particular way. Here you are supporting refugees, which I mean my whole work revolves around that. How we can shed a light on them. End wars in a way. These are all things that are very challenging, and we need to have a place where we can rest our mind, rest our soul, so that we can like you said, restore our energy and go back out in the world with that optimism feeling to help it, in some way, shape, or form. 

I’m very grateful to have met you today, Natalia. You are amazing. I’m excited to share your book out with the world. If you haven’t yet, the book is called The Soulful Home Design Guide: Fill Your Home and Life with Beauty, Love, Peace and Prosperity, is available on Amazon. Besides checking out the book, Natalia where can people find you? 

Natalia Kaylin: My website is nataliakaylin.com. There is lots of information and blog articles there. I’m on social media as well. You can find it through my website.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Beautiful. If you are out there and you need some tips, or advice, or help around creating a beautiful home or space. Please reach out to Natalia. She is the person to give you all this advice and help you get there. If you don’t, I mean you can definitely check out her book again available now on Amazon. Thank you all for joining us today. Have a fantastic rest of your evening.