The Beauty of Movement and Sound

Sound is . . . the rubbing of notes between two drops of water. – Helene Cixous

I am a big believer in making living spaces appeal to all our senses. But no matter how carefully I help people select finishes, fixtures, furnishings and fabrics to create beauty in their indoor and outdoor rooms, something’s missing. Although the combination of these elements evoke harmony, they are static and don’t fill the space with movement or sound.

That’s why I always suggest the addition of one or more fountains where possible in a living space. There is something about the sight, sound, smell, and feeling of moving water that attracts us, engages our senses, pleases, comforts and sooths in a way nothing else does. Fountains truly give the beauty of movement and sound and provide a place to gather on warm summer days and nights.

Santa Fe Casita

I have a small casita in Santa Fe where I work year-round on client projects. I am often there in the summer which can be very hot. But the moment I turn on the wall fountains hung adjacent to the tiny upstairs deck and patio below, the casita fills with the sound of water and I immediately relax. When I step outside, the circular fountain in the garden makes the hot desert air feel cooler and smell fresher. Suddenly life is good I think to myself as I sit by the fountain and watch hummingbirds sip the cool water with their pointed beaks.

Fountains come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges and can fit just about anywhere. There is an endless variety of styles, sounds, and patterns of movement to choose from. In practical terms, you will need two things: water and power.  Plus a place to put your fountain that hopefully reflects and compliments its surroundings. Here’s a few examples.

City Dweller Fountain

City Fountain

City Space Saver

The first fountain is perfect for a city dweller. It sits on the tiny deck of an edgy San Francisco loft with a fantastic skyline view. This artful composition is made from a small red stone planter and an old rusty pitcher. It takes up little space but adds a soft, soothing sound to the urban hum of this high-energy city. In summer when the French doors are open, the sound of water can be heard throughout the loft contrasting to and covering up the harsher sounds of the city below.  The fountains unexpected combination of the smooth elegant bowl and funky old pitcher reflect the edgy appeal of the artful loft.


Wine Country Magic

Sonoma Valley Fountain

Vineyard Magic

An idyllic hillside in Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon is the setting for this large yet inexpensive concrete fountain. Framed by grapevines and Mexican sage, it greets guests when they arrive at this unpretentious wine country estate with the sound of splashing water. The eight-foot diameter vessel sits on a concrete base for stability, with a simple metal tube in the center providing a spray of water. It is hard wired and switched from inside the home. My clients love it!

Splashing Mediterranean By the Bay

Mediterranean Fountain

Sparkling Mediterranean

I found this reasonably priced free-standing fountain online. When it arrived, it looked nothing like it did on my computer screen. So, I faux painted it to give the terra cotta the look and feel of stone. Then I found the perfect spot to put it, on a wall facing the outdoor dining area.  Here it provides the beauty of movement and sound as my clients enjoy dinner with a view of the Bay from their home on Corinthian Island. There are French doors to the right of the fountain enabling the sound of the gentle stream of water to drift inside the luxurious Mediterranean home like the tinkling of keys from a nearby piano.

Desert Garden Treasure

Sante Fe Fountain

Mexican Treasure

I bought this inexpensive Mexican stone fountain at one of my favorite stores in Santa Fe called Jackalope.  I placed it next to the patio where it draws visitors with its vibrant splashing water outdoors to the casita’s colorful garden. It also beckons birds of all kinds who stop for a drink in the morning as I read the paper and sip coffee. I hear its music throughout the day and into the evening while I start a fire in the outdoor kiva to warm the cool desert air. After gathering for dinner at a table next to the fountain, my friends and I move to the fireplace for coffee and ghost stories.  Fire and water – the same essential elements human beings have gathered around for centuries upon centuries.

Fountains need not cost a lot of money or take much space. They create wonderful focal points and mask unwanted sounds. Plus, fountains can make a large space feel more intimate, and a small space more inviting. In addition, they attract wildlife with their source of life giving water.

I hope you have a beautiful fountain to hang out by this August. And if not, find one and spend some time there. Or better yet plan to install a fountain on your property so that next summer your home will be filled with the magical beauty of sound and movement.  Happy splashing this last month of summer!

Showing 2 comments
  • Susan

    I would love to know how and what you used to faux paint one of the fountains you mentioned.

    • Linda Applewhite

      Thanks so much for your comment. We used a combination of concrete stains and paints to color the fountain in rich terra cotta tones to compliment the homes apricot toned stucco color. Depending on the fountain’s location we occasionally use oil based paints combined with the stucco and concrete paints to provide stability of the color.  The color has held very well and the fountain looks the same as when we stained/painted it five years ago with no chipping or fading. Good luck with your fountain and thanks Susan for reading my Blog!!!

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