About Stephanie

Founder, Practical Sanctuary, sensory interior design. Massage therapist. Artist emeritus. Pretty Lady, bane of the troglydites.

Sensory Architecture: A Seamless Experience

During the Middle Ages, cathedrals such as Yorkminster (above) were designed by master builders. These architects understood everything about the site–the terrain, the climate, the materials, the culture. These buildings seem to arise organically out of the landscape, as though they grew out of the native stone. Today, most […]

Sticker and the Giant Aloe

How to Grow Big Houseplants

The light and humidity in the corner of your living room bear no resemblance to that of a West African rain forest, and you cannot fool the fiddle leaf fig tree into thinking so.

From Grunge to Gorgeous

March of 2020: lockdown.

What I crave more than anything: a garden.

What I’ve got: 100 square feet of broken concrete, surrounded by a broken fence, looking onto a vacant lot which the guy down the block insists is his. (It’s not.) I’ve gotten into a guerrilla gardening war over this lot, and lost.

Magical Fairyland Patio, With Cat


Why Get Political? A Love Letter.

“Don’t mix business with politics.” If you follow Practical Sanctuary on social media, you know I break that rule. This is why. One of my core values, in life and in business, is inclusiveness. It’s been that way since preschool. My rule, “be kind to the awkward kid,” means […]

7 Simple Fixes for the Highly Sensitive Person’s Home Office

If you’re like me, you’re secretly LOVING quarantine. Like a lot of highly sensitive people, I get overwhelmed in crowds, emotionally exhausted at networking events, and come down with a case of decision fatigue when I have too many options for how to spend my time.  Having no choice […]

Simple, sunny office with white walls, view of trees, plants

Child with glasses holding a model of an atom

Sensory Integration: How To Decode What Your Child Is Telling You

So often, children with sensory issues are treated for behavioral problems, with or without acknowledging what sensory needs might be driving the behavior. When therapists focus on addressing unwanted behaviors without digging deeper, we can miss an opportunity to help a struggling child.

The ONE Biggest Mistake

For sensitive people, EVERYTHING feels like a huge issue. And for those with ADD-type brains, struggles with executive function can derail your ability to prioritize, and weigh cost-benefit analysis when deciding what projects to take on.

The Eccentric Genius: Sustainable Business Network Interview

Interview with Bradford Bucknum, Sustainable Business Network, Philadelphia What is your “elevator” definition of neurodiversity? Neurodiverse people have brains that differ from the majority, in the ways they organize and process information. This can include people on the autism spectrum, people with sensory sensitivities, and people with ADHD. There […]

Feral Artists and Eccentric Habitats

“…the two things that stood out about SFAI was that it provided no formal education and no practical support, either during your tenure there or upon graduation. Students were simply thrown into a mud pit and encouraged to rend one another.”

Image: Looking up a tall escalator toward a tiny figure at the top

Climbing the Mountain

THIS WEEK I DID SOMETHING HARD. I asked for help. Help for a problem that made me feel ashamed and terrified. A miracle occurred. I got WAY more help than I asked for, in more areas than I thought possible. When we are highly sensitive, that can encompass both […]