The Sensuality of Water

Water quiets all the noise, all the distractions, and connects you to your own thoughts

– Wallace J. Nichols, from his book Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do


I am an avid believer in making living spaces appeal to all our senses. Although an impeccable selection of finishes, fixtures, furnishings and fabrics can create beauty in both indoor and outdoor rooms, the space may still feel like something is missing. Carefully composed elements can evoke harmony, but they are static and do not fill the space with movement or sound.

Sumptuous Summer Sloshing

Fountains provide beauty through movement and sound.
Fountains provide beauty through movement and sound.

Now that the pandemic has accompanied us into summer and made it unsafe to gather at our familiar and beloved watering holes (both the literal and figurative types), many of us are missing our summer sloshing fix.

But we are not without recourse. Since we cannot go to the water, we can bring the water to us with the addition of one or more fountains in our homes and gardens. There is something about the sight, sound, smell, and feeling of moving water that attracts us, engages our senses, pleases, comforts and soothes in a way nothing else does. Fountains truly give the beauty of movement and sound and provide a cheerful gathering place on warm summer days and nights.

Fountain Focal Points

Fountains create a focal point to draw you outdoors.
Fountains create a focal point to draw you outdoors.

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 three things: water, a pump (which can be electric, solar, or battery powered), and a location for your fountain that reflects and complements its surroundings. Here are a few examples.

Santa Fe Casita

Fountains come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges.
Fountains come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges.

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 fountain 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.

The City Dweller

Ideal for a small outdoor space, this unexpected fountain sits on the tiny deck of a downtown San Francisco loft with a fantastic skyline view. The 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 trickling water can be heard throughout the loft, gently muffling sounds of the city below. The offbeat combination of the fountain’s smooth, elegant bowl and funky old pitcher blends perfectly with the loft’s edgy appeal.

Ideal for a small, outdoor space, this fountain sits on the tiny deck of an urban loft.

Wine Country Magic

This inexpensive fountain, made of a concrete vessel and metal tube, welcomes guests.
This inexpensive fountain, made of a concrete vessel and metal tube, welcomes guests.

An idyllic hillside in Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon is the setting for this large yet surprisingly inexpensive concrete fountain. Framed by grapevines and Mexican sage, it greets guests at this unpretentious wine country estate with the chuckling 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 circular plume of water. It is hard wired and switched from inside the home. My clients love it!

Buried Treasure

The curves of this funky, old fountain provide contrast to the surrounding straight lines.
The curves of this funky, old fountain provide contrast to the surrounding straight lines.

Among the neglected artefacts left behind on the property where my clients relocated from the Bay Area to the Santa Ynez Valley was this carved white fountain. It was overgrown with weeds and had not seen water in a long time. The fountain was so heavy, the couple worried they would never be able to move it, until discovering it was in three pieces – still heavy, but doable. After a good cleanup, a pump was installed and the fountain was placed outside their living room, beneath a newly built pergola. The curves of the funky old fountain are the perfect relief to the straight lines above and behind, and the flowing water refreshes their senses throughout this wine country ranch home.

Fountain Facts

Create a water feature in your garden to fill your senses with the beauty of sound
Create a water feature in your garden to fill your senses with the beauty of sound.

I bought this inexpensive Mexican fountain at one of my favorite stores in Santa Fe called Jackalope. Fountains need not cost a lot of money or take much space. They create wonderful focal points and mask unwanted sounds. Fountains can make a large space feel more intimate, and a small space more inviting. Best of all, they attract wildlife and human beings who have gathered around this essential element of water for centuries.

We may not be able to splash around in our country’s breathtaking oceans, lakes, rivers and streams this summer, but we can still experience the best of what water has to offer right at home. How creative can you be?

For the love of fountains,

Linda Applewhite's signature
Showing 6 comments
  • Marsha Butler

    Thank you- very interesting.

  • Courtney K Eskridge

    Linda-How very timely and so true! I just spent 5 days in a private home that had a lovely pool with a trickling water feature.In the morn,afternoon and evening,it was bliss to be there. Thank you for always teaching and inspiring us to enjoy the simple pleasures.You are such a gift to so,so many.

  • Kay Criley

    You are so right, Linda. There are few things more appealing than a fountain. We must find a place for one!!

  • Jenny Duffy

    Ah, Linda, you’ve read my mind. I finally have my husband working on our outdoor patio and just last night I was thinking what kind of fountain I wanted. I remembered seeing your new mexico fountain in a previous post and, although I have a more mid-century/asian style, I liked the idea of the three tiers, with the bottom tier at ground level and hopefully a bubbling sound. Bingo! Today, I received your emailed blog and the beautiful fountain photos have motivated me to begin my search for one. May I ask, does your fountain provide this sound for you? Thank you so much for sharing. As always…you inspire.


    Well of course every example is perfection! So lovely, so nourishing! We brought to our now 4 yr old ‘downsized’ small home a fountain that leaned by the before home front door. I thought it was corny…..then this “new” backyard seemed so tired, sterile and blah that I had the movers put the ‘corny fountain’ in the van…..voila! It is perfect in our little patio area. We love it! And BTW We have a slider that looks onto a wild green slope held off our side walkway by a retaining wall……I planted 5 while hydrangeas and we have quite the view from the dining table! Inspiration from your blog, Dahling!!

  • kirby Kendrick

    I am continually amazed at Linda’s attention to the every detail of making our surroundings not only beautiful, but serene. She is an born artist and we are blessed that she shares her incredible talents with us. Thank you Linda!

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