Sacred Spaces

Everyday People and the Beautiful Homes Created Out of Their Trials, Healing, and Victories

About the Book

A gorgeous photography collection, featuring home interiors and profiles of the people who have transformed these spaces into sanctuaries, calling you to create your own sacred space
“This book is brimming with heart and healing, and it is a moody, visual feast that will leave you feeling full in the best way possible.”—Justina Blakeney, designer, author, and founder of Jungalow

Before she became an internationally renowned designer and photographer, Carley Summers suffered from alcoholism and addiction, spending nights in jail, the emergency room, and rehab. As someone who celebrates recovery today, she knows firsthand the importance of a warm and inviting home. Summers uses her life experience and her craft to ensure that the homes she photographs and designs are comforting, healing spaces to live and grow in.

Sacred Spaces takes readers on a beautifully photographed journey inside fourteen homes, from North Carolina and California to Canada, France, and Morocco, as Summers uncovers the vulnerable stories behind each one: a mother who uses her kitchen to heal her son with food, a woman who found her sanctuary after overcoming childhood abuse, and more. She even offers a tour of her mother’s home and her own. Along the way, each section identifies a type of space that people have created, including

The Foundational Home, which features those who have created spaces on a solid foundation for a lasting legacy
The Wandering Home, which highlights people who were lost in life, lost in travels, but never lost in their home
The Cathartic Home, which showcases people who realize that when they cannot change the outside world, they can change the inside of their homes to bring comfort through renewal and restoration

This collection is a balm for those seeking refuge in a world fraught with struggle and heartache. Through stories of brokenness, hurt, and healing, Sacred Spaces invites readers to dream of the home that will set them free.
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Praise for Sacred Spaces

“Carley Summers has an eye for beauty and a way of capturing not just gorgeous, layered interiors but also the powerful stories that the interiors hold. This book is brimming with heart and healing, and it is a moody, visual feast that will leave you feeling full in the best way possible.”—Justina Blakeney, designer, author, and founder of Jungalow

Sacred Spaces accomplishes what many design books miss—it shows the heart of the home and the heart of people. Through Summers’s interviews, we see a human element, including her own story, which reminds us that we are inseparable from what we call home. These stories and brilliant photographs will inspire you to honor your space as sacred and make real change in your life.”—Bobby Berk, design expert and Emmy-nominated host of Queer Eye

“I’m completely in awe of how Carley Summers was able to pull together so many beautiful stories and gorgeous photos of the homes and their owners in one stunning book! This is not a book that will just sit on a shelf or on a table. This is a book that one will read and be inspired by over and over again.”—Eddie Ross, author of Modern Mix and cofounder and chief content creator of Maximalist Studios
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Sacred Spaces

The Foundational Home

Stories from Francesca Gentilli, Eddie Ross, and Page Aman, who have created a solid foundation for a lasting legacy.

Francesca Gentilli

Weston, England

Passed down through multiple generations, the cozy family farmhouse Francesca and her husband, Alex, live in is nestled in the old English town of Weston, a village belonging to the northern district of Hertfordshire. Just an hour north of London, the setting of their quaint home is breathtaking, overlooking a vast field of sunflowers, completely indicative of the inhabitants’ sunny and cheerful demeanor. Their home is just minutes from Alex’s office, where he works to carry on his family legacy as a sustainable farmer. Francesca and Alex beautifully renovated and restored their historic gem, and their love for each other and their home is abundantly evident. Francesca’s passion for travel is showcased throughout the house: various textiles from around the world grace the rooms, and her family legacy lives on through the beautiful furniture displayed in the living room. Like many, Francesca struggled to find her inner calling, but on a spontaneous trip to India, she found her purpose through procuring beautiful rugs and textiles from rich cultures around the globe. When I think of my time with Francesca, I think of innocence and purity of heart. I met her during my travels overseas, and the moment we first struck up a conversation, I knew there was something so special about her. Her heart is genuine and she has such a contagious joy about her. While we strolled through the countryside near her home and chatted about life, I felt at peace with her. I felt safe, which is also the way I felt in her home. She has created a sanctuary for her family, and her story is just beginning. I know you will feel the sweetness of her home as you dive into her story and beautiful space.

Your story . . . ​Go!

Francesca: I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, in Hambleden, a village in Oxfordshire. Our farm sat on a hill on the edge of the village, where I led a very sheltered childhood. It was mainly an arable farm, but we always kept some sheep. And I remember one of the sheep rejected its baby. I asked my father and Jack, the shepherd, if I could have it—if it could be mine. After much deliberation, they said yes. So Woolie and I became great friends. She would hang out in the field with all of the other sheep, but I would read her stories from my storybook and sneak her digestive biscuits and feed her carrots. We hung out loads. My snacks were probably not very good for her diet, but we were friends.

My mom always said I was born with my bags packed. As a child, I begged her to go to boarding school. She didn’t want me to go, but I thought the idea of having a big sleepover with all of my friends, five days a week, was the coolest thing ever. She thought it was cruel. But I got my way, and never looked back.

After school, I got my first proper job, where I worked in catering. I really like working. I like to earn my own money. I didn’t get an allowance or any money from my parents, which made me want to own my own way. I would work on and off in a catering company, doing little canapés, which is really artistic and fiddly and lovely. But then I got my first exciting job at age nineteen and I went to work in the French Caribbean. I didn’t know anyone, but I just went and did it. The jobs were quite average, but I felt like I was going to study French at university.

Carley: What kind of work was it?

Francesca: Just working in a fashion boutique. And so, I’d hang out and talk to everyone who came in. And then the second year there I helped launch a Greek bar-restaurant. I was a terrible waitress. I dropped all the glasses. I literally would go around with lots of trays and drop them all. But for some reason, they kept me. That really wasn’t my calling, but it was cool to be in the Caribbean islands. I was doing that while all of my friends were at university. I never did university. And part of me really regrets it because they all had so much fun there. They probably didn’t learn that much, but they had a lot of fun. I kind of feel like I missed out on that experience. But if I had gone, then I probably wouldn’t be where I am now, because it would have taken me down a different route.

Carley: You’d probably be working at an office in London somewhere.

Francesca: Ah, no way, no way, no way. I could never be in an office in London. The idea of being hemmed in isn’t ideal.

Carley: So, travel has always been really big for you?

Francesca: Travel has always been really big. As soon as I did that job in the Caribbean, I kind of got the bug to just pack up and go and try new places. But I didn’t travel as much as I do now. In my twenties, I kind of floated around doing all sorts of jobs, not really feeling fulfilled, but just doing them because they paid the bills. I did a lot of kitchen work, cooking and things like that. And I worked in fashion wholesale, which was soul destroying. Our office was in a basement, but the boss was four floors up. She’d call me and say, “Francesca, can you come up here?” I’d run to the top of the building, and when I’d get there, she’d say, “Can you go and get me a cappuccino?” I would think, You could’ve just asked me on the phone. She was such a gal, but she was also a family friend. So I had to be careful about how I reacted. And I realized I absolutely hated it.

Then I started my business in 2013, and that was when I found my groove and when I started traveling loads. For the first time, I was really enjoying what I was doing. And I kind of fell into it, not really realizing where it was taking me. But for the first time, it just felt right. It felt like I had finally found a good direction, in an industry that I wanted to be in because it offered a perfect mix of being creative and selling things. I’m good at selling things—I like selling things and talking to people.

Carley: So now you’ve come back full circle.

Francesca: Yeah. Full circle, living back on a farm with my husband, Alex. We don’t really know where we met, but it was in the haze of the university era at a party somewhere. We stayed friends for a very long time. And then we went on holiday together with other friends. One thing led to another, and we ended up being together. From there, things moved quite quickly, and we married within two years—because when you know, you know. And we had known each other for so long. There was none of that getting to know him and finding out if he was a good guy, because I already knew. And that’s kind of where we are now.

Carley: With two babies on the way!

Francesca: With two babies on the way! So yeah, it almost feels like my story is just starting. It’s been amazing fun, but I’ve been a bit unsettled and wishy-washy up until now. And I feel like now it will all start.

Carley: You have a foundation.

Francesca: Yep, exactly.

About the Author

Carley Summers
Carley Summers is an interior designer and photographer, holding a fine arts degree focused on photography and painting. With interior photography, she helps clients and brands narrate their stories. With interior design, she creates truly sacred spaces for clients and their loved ones to enjoy. Carley Summers and her husband live in North Carolina with their son, Max. More by Carley Summers
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