UNIQUE ABODE 02: SAHRA SAMNANI'S WARM & COSY ISLAND HOME
This new journal series celebrates distinctive homes and their owners, showcasing their individuality and creativity while uncovering the secrets behind each unique abode.
"Home to me is a deeper and more profound experience than just simply existing in a space. Home is an extension of our being". For our second feature in this series, we interviewed Sahra Samnani, the owner of Cosy Consultant & a brand new BNB. She vulnerably shares with us the process to reconnecting to her authentic self and how it led her to a new aligned career and way of living.
We’d love to hear about your beginnings, and what/who shaped the person you are today!
I believe it all started when I was just a little peanut walking home from school in Hanna, Alberta. I remember stepping into the mudroom of our family home, and I was met with this brilliant hug of toasty warm air and the scent of tumbling laundry in the dryer. It was the most cosy and intoxicating moment of my life! Immediately I was soothed, relieved and joyful. After that, every time I came indoors during the winter, I made note of that feeling.
As life went on I began to notice that “hug of cosiness” in different places, circumstances, homes, moments, etc. Eventually I became obsessed with recreating and living it. I remember in elementary school I would beg my mom for notes to stay inside for winter recesses, during which I would nook into a warm classroom corner feeling cosy, toasty, snacking away, happily content.
I am somewhat obsessive about cosiness, and in my teenage years I shared a room with my sister and when it came time to spruce-up our sides of the bedroom she would always cry out “Why is hers so much nicer?!”. I’d layer pillows and blankets on my bed, spending too much time fluffing it, making it perfectly puffed. I always had infinite energy and effort when it came to creating cosiness.
This love of home and all things comfort grew, it expanded into an understanding of the importance of beauty and harmony in our spaces, it evolved into a love of everything to do with the interior environment. When I first attended university I was taking courses in business/psychology (lol), but I never went to my classes and spent most of my time and money decorating my dorm room! Finally I called my sister one day, expressed my distaste for business (really I had flunked out) and my love for Interior Design. She pushed me to apply to the Bachelors of Interior Design program at KPU, and so I went.
During this time I somewhat lost my way. I focused on form and minimalism, I let the softer side of me slip away in favor of long lines, simplicity, form and function. Upon graduation I launched my design practice and focused on minimalist interiors for the next several years. It wasn’t until my husband Alex and I moved to Victoria, and my life/career completely unraveled, that I found my way back to myself and my love of cosiness.
A few new chapters have opened up in your life this year; one being the launch of your consulting business, Cosy Consultant, which we love the intention of. Was there a personal experience that prompted this need to want to help others revamp their spaces?
The idea actually began to surface during one of the most challenging chapters of my life. Alex and I had just moved to Victoria in February 2020 right before the world took a strange spin. That period of time was a true “Dark night of the soul”; everything in my life began to unravel, my career spilled away, I could no longer pretend that traumas of my past were not still causing me pain, we had barely enough money to cover rent, I struggled with PTSD, anxiety, depression and burned out. I was hollowed out during that period of time, everything I was pretending to be, all that I thought defined me fell away. We had moved to Victoria with only a few chairs, a bed and some books. Our home, like me, was an empty vessel, ready for a new chapter to unfold.
In that emptiness, I would hear this little soft voice inside me whisper “just keep working on your home”, and so I did. I found inexpensive pieces of furniture on Facebook Marketplace. I would stage, upsell pieces and replace them with items that felt like our little family's essence. Every time a little empty space in our home was filled and lovingly styled, it would feel more cosy, more luxurious, and more alive. Slowly as I began to create home from my authentic self, and my heart, I began to find a little life inside me again. Over time I found my way back to that sweet soul who loved and cherished cosiness.
The healing I was doing did not become easier, but my home was now a beautiful place for my inner-work to unfold. It became my haven. It felt like a reflection of myself and Alex. Like a little bird, I gathered sticks and leaves for our nest each day, and with every loving addition I felt more and more joy and awe when in our space. That joy, comfort and cosiness was a bright light during a dark time. In that space of rebirth I began to ask myself: what my purpose was? How I could be of service in this life? What could I share with others that would be of use? What if I could guide others to create nurturing cosy homes? Homes that could hold them in difficulty, bring them to contentment and joy on cold and cloudy days. What if I could show others that, to experience cosiness in their spaces they do not need an abundance of money, but rather heaps of intention, meaningful ritual and perhaps a gentle adjustment of the items they already own?
Those questions lingered and the concept of Cosy Consultant really came to me one day at a little Crepe cafe in town. I said to Alex “This space could be cosier” and he turned to me and said “That's it. That's what you do, you make places cosier, you make life cosier! You make people feel cosy!” It was a little eureka moment, a small answer to the questions I had been asking myself. Rumi says "The wound is the place where the light enters you.” That period of darkness and unknowing left me perfectly emptied, readied for a new flow of authentic inspiration. The wounds of my past created the kindling that inspired The Cosy Consultant, and I am ever so grateful.
What is your favourite part about helping others bring cosiness into their space?
Home to me is a deeper and more profound experience than just simply existing in a space. Home is an extension of our being. Like our bodies house our consciousness, our homes house our being and our loved ones! Like it is essential to tend to our bodies with loving care, so it is vital we create a home that nourishes and holds us dearly.
I enjoy helping someone make little shifts to their home. I love when someone discovers their version of cosy, and eventually when they have that blissful moment of peace, surrender and utter satisfaction in their home. I love encouraging people to work on their space no matter what their resources are, it is not about spending heaps of money on new furnishings to achieve a certain “look”. Creating a home that speaks to your heart is about diving deep into your being, and finding what is beautiful and comforting to you. It is my utter joy to help with that process.
You have a love for filling your own home with purpose. From where do you source most of the pieces in your home?
I’ve really learned that we do not have to have brand new furniture or decor for our homes to feel amazing! Second hand pieces, vintage finds, upcycling it is all just as wonderful. I usually find most of my furniture pieces off of Facebook marketplace, I love to hunt for decor items at local shops like Pigeonhole, I frequent thrift shops and antique stores, and of course love to get a few goodies from online shops like June Home Supply.
What is your favourite room in your home, and why?
This home speaks to my soul, has so many wonderful little spaces to be, but my favourite has to be our master bedroom. The peaked ceilings feel storybook-like, the light that filters in is golden and patterned from the wood paned windows. The soft carpet helps me feel grounded and nooked in. It has a lovely view of the Gorge and our garden, it really just feels magical, tranquil and healing.
Why do you feel like having a home that is your style important? And how would you describe your own interior styling?
It is so deeply important for your home to reflect who you and your loved ones are. It is a physical extension of our being and the more we infuse it with the colours, textures, patterns, feelings, rituals, sounds, etc that we love, the more we will feel enjoyment and comfort. My personal style is based on the feelings and imagery I adore - warmth, plush comforts, fluff, pouf and pillows, golden amber hues (they remind me of Alex), lots of places to lounge and cuddle, earthy tones and patterns. These days, it's all about comfort, ease and relaxing.
Being a Vancouver-based brand, we relate to those long, harsh, cold Canadian winters! Do you have a ritual that you follow during these months to keep you grounded?
I have so many!! My first one is that we are in an atmosphere of that deep damp cold. So our homes and rituals need to be about expelling or neutralizing that force. Focus on warming, lots of candles, warm teas, drinks, blankets, fires, heating pads, amber light bulbs and warm tones in the home! Bring the energy of warmth into your space. Anything we can do to off-set that cold, grey-blue feeling that takes over.
My favorite ritual during the depths of winter is waking up to a ginger, lemon, turmeric tea. I prepare these ahead of time by freezing a blend of the three ingredients into ice cubes. First thing in the morning I pop on the kettle, put on a little tea light candle and get that warming tea in me. It is like an internal blanket for the rest of your day, not to mention the beautiful healing benefits of ginger, lemon and turmeric. I sip it on the sofa, with Alex and Roux nearby, and a warm blanket. It’s little simple rituals that help us learn to love the Winters here.
Why do you feel that intentional living is important to you? What aspects of your life has it followed you in?
In my opinion it is the only way to live going forward. To live intentionally brings so much profound joy and simplicity to our lives - we live more and need less. We all have spent way too much time living in a state of over-consumption and that has left us in a depleted world. We all need to slow down and come back to the present moment.
Living with intention has followed me through every aspect of my life, particularly around physical and internal wellness. I’ve learned to be intentional with the food I eat, the people I surround myself with, the TV shows I watch, where I spend my money, how I dress myself, how I speak to myself and others, music, healing, all of it. I try these days to visit all of these aspects of my life with compassion and consciousness.
The second new chapter in your life is your BNB! (so exciting!) What is your vision for this cottage?
This little project has my whole heart. At the most surface level, the cottage is a beautiful adventure where Alex and I can express ourselves creatively. We can forage and cook delicious gourmet food and share that with our guests, I can tinker with the space to make it ever more cosy and accommodating. Beneath that sort of initial layer of creative expression, it is a vessel for what my soul yearns to provide in this lifetime. This cottage, the bnb, at its deepest level is not just about making an income, or it being an outlet for creativity. I want it to be a place where I can hold an open invitation to anyone going through life's difficulties. As I see it, If you’re needing a break, or in grief or pain - come stay, we’ll take care of you. If you can’t afford it, don’t worry about it, talk to us and come stay. If you are in emotional pain and you need someone to feed you and look at you with compassion while you heal, come this way, we’ll feed you, we’ll care for you. Do you need to be somewhere where you know someone is simply there, just there holding you in an energy of respect and love? Tell us, we’ll make room for you.
I have often wondered where we go when we are simply overwhelmed with life, when we need to take a rest and have someone just be there for us, to simply bring us tea and tend to us in a humble human way. Yes our loved ones can do this for us, but sometimes we need an escape and to be somewhere and just know we are welcome. My vision, my hope for this little cottage is that it can be a little lighthouse, a little warm campfire in the dark, a beacon of love for anyone seeking a gentle haven. If someone needs it, it's here. I grew up with the word “Seva” meaning to do work that is of service to others, and the understanding that in this lifetime we all need to figure out a way to be of service, a way to provide a helping hand. I believe that this little cottage is our vehicle for “seva”, and perhaps even a path toward our life’s purpose.
To conclude can you tell us what draws you to harly jae?
Speaking of intention, I feel as though harly jae is imbued with it. There is a soft romance to it that I am so drawn to. I haven’t purchased many clothing items over the last few years as I’ve been on this big journey of self discovery. I’ve been asking myself in terms of my style/clothing, what feels authentic to who I am now? What can I bring into my wardrobe that speaks to my truth? The ethical, soft and sensual qualities embodied by harly jae are exactly in alignment with all that I am uncovering on this path of self-discovery.