The poet Henry David Thoreau escaped to Walden Pond to find wisdom and serenity. Most of us would love to do the same thing, if only to find a few hours of peace. But we have no Walden Pond and most of us don’t even have a few free hours: we have things to do, emails to answer, deadlines to meet, and a never-ending to-do list that leaves us frazzled and unhappy.
But in what Thoreau so aptly called “lives of quiet desperation” the need for a sanctuary becomes even more important. And since we can’t pack up our things and go to a deserted woods, the next best thing is to create a quiet, peaceful nook in our own home. In a pinch, that can mean a locked bathroom. But the gold standard of escapes—and if you can afford it, why not?—is a conservatory.
A conservatory isn’t just a room with a lot of big windows. It’s Walden Pond with indoor heating and a comfortable sofa. We enjoy all the most healing, soul-fulfilling aspects of nature—the beautiful view of the garden, the golden beams of sunlight, the clear blue sky and slow ambling of summer clouds—while in the comfort of our own home.
The conservatory can be our personal heaven on earth. If we love books, we can turn it into a library or reading room. Or it can be dining area, and between meals, use the table for work, crafts, writing in a journal, or even a dull task like sorting through emails—somehow, the drudgery is more bearable when we do it in a happy place, surrounded by comforting things.
While a conservatory sounds horribly complicated and expensive to build, it’s not. Modern man has something Thoreau did not: DIY or self-build conservatories. And considering the cost of therapy and stress medication, we will probably save more in the long run. We need a sanctuary. No, let’s put that more strongly—we deserve a sanctuary. There are numerous studies on the healing effects of silence, nature, and even just a few moments of sitting a in a sun room, surrounded by a garden view and bathed by sunlight, can do wonders not just for our physical health but our emotional well-being. So while real estate agents will say that a conservatory is good for your property value, perhaps the best reason to build one has nothing to do with what money can’t buy: peace.