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La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita

Welcome to Second Nature, a Q+A series with Jute founder, Ali Davin, that explores all things healthy living, with a fond emphasis on that thing she does best—interior design.

If you’ve ever been to Italy, you’ve probably noticed that Italians know how to live. It’s more than delicious food and wine; la dolce vita—the sweet life—is all about embracing simple pleasures every day.

As lovely as it sounds, you don’t have to spend two weeks in the Tuscan countryside to enjoy the good things in life. You can create that feeling of total contentment in your own home.


What is it about Italy that we find so appealing?

People always talk about the food, which is of course amazing, but what makes it so good is that they prioritize fresh produce—not processed food—and they spend a lot of time cooking and eating as a family. Their culture is food-centric and social, where you’re with people and really savoring the experience versus just getting a smoothie in your car. Their pace is so much more relaxed, so that’s why it’s so appealing for us to be there on vacation.


How can we bring that vacation feeling home?

Think about what you can do to turn off and relax at home. I don’t mean come home from work, veg out, and watch Netflix; think about what you love to do, then create a space to do it in your home. If you love to play music, set up a room where you can do that. If you love to read, get a cozy chair with good lighting. If you do yoga, create a meditation corner with a cushion and your yoga mat. I think Italians prioritize being well-rounded, and you feel that when you’re there.


So it’s really about making your home a place you want to be?

Exactly. Italian culture is very home-based, and that’s a good thing—they don’t compartmentalize things. Think about building a life at home, and making your house feel like a sanctuary. You need to do thoughtful planning so that everything you surround yourself with is intentional and purposeful. Everything you buy should have meaning and be kept for a lifetime.


Where should you begin?

Always start in your bedroom. We tend to completely dismiss sleep and not prioritize it, when it’s so important to our overall health. You need to create a healthy environment so you can get that deep sleep that’s really restorative. Consider why you might not be sleeping well: you don’t like your mattress, it’s too bright, you’re bringing your phone into your bedroom, and so on. It’s usually something that’s easily fixable. Just be aware of environmental toxins and make sure you’re not bringing anything that’s going to off-gas VOCs in your bedroom.


What else can you do?

Being outside in fresh air and getting vitamin D is important, so invest in a really comfortable outdoor space if you have one. Think about when you’re on vacation: you eat breakfast on your deck, you have cocktails outside, you’re spending as much time outdoors as possible. So why not do that on a daily basis? It’s what the Italians do—they’re always outside on their patios. Set up a sweet little area outside where you can drink your coffee in the morning, or where you can eat dinner with your family. Make those vacation moments part of your everyday life.


How else can you slow down?

Take a bath. It’s the ultimate luxury, and a free-standing bathtub is the number-one thing that people request when they’re renovating. We do a lot of steam showers too, and lately people want separate vanities that feel more private, versus a double sink. It’s all about creating a spa environment that feels indulgent and luxurious, yet it’s something you can use every day.


Is there a mental shift that needs to happen too?

Yes, you need to be able to turn off at home, so prioritize being more grounded throughout the day. Get outside and take a walk. Set boundaries. Throw your phone in a drawer when you get home. Turn off your wi-fi, especially when you go to bed. Your home should feel like a zen environment where you can really relax.


Create an environment where you can unwind and recharge at home

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