We often place greater importance on perfecting our interior world (especially for the sake of some Instagram “likes”) that home mimics a magazine or showroom more than an actual space that welcomes us each day with a warm, loving hug. It’s almost blank, though filled with things, because it doesn’t radiate the spirit of a real “home”. The FEELING of home.
Let me expand on this. I tend to ramble, so the tips are coming, but first I gotta say what I gotta say. 🙂
Have you ever looked at some of your favorite interior blogs or Instagrammers and thought, “Wow that’s an amazing home, how do they live that way?!”. I do it constantly, daily. But then I try to imagine myself living in their home and instantly realize I could never live in such a dreamworld. It looks beautiful in a photo, but I couldn’t have an all-beige interior with a 6-year-old boy, I certainly couldn’t feel comfortable curled up on a wooden Danish lounge chair that costs more than my entire kitchen, and I wouldn’t want to eat at a dining room table with a rug that I’d be terrified to drop food on. I must have a balance of beauty and practicality to really feel at home in my home.
This is the difference between INSTAGRAM life and real life. But we see Instagram daily, myriads of times, and we start to think that IS real life. It’s not. Which means we have to learn to deal with these rooms as we deal with seeing perfectly sculpted models in our favorite fashion magazines. As a “model” of life. These Instagram and magazine homes are models. They are perfect for the camera after hours of prep and great lighting. They make us drool. But when the camera goes away, real life begins. The kids enter the room, the dog pees on the floor, the husband walks in wearing only underwear asking where his jeans are, the teenager lounges on the sofa in his grubby sweats, the baby spits up on the chair. And that’s real life. That’s what we don’t see. We see the model homes.
So now, aside from these perfect spaces online, the real purpose of this post isn’t to shed some light on the business of home styling. Most of us in the interiors world know it’s smoke and mirrors for the most part. And though some people really do have perfect homes even without a camera on, that percentage is relatively low. The real point of my essay is how to how to bring love, peace, support and comfort to our home. Not just “pretty”. We all know by now how to make the home pretty. It’s been shown to us on Pinterest, Insta, blogs, books, magazines, etc. a billion times. Decorating is no longer something beyond reach of the average person as it was in the early 2000s when only the rich could afford interior designers and experts to help them create the perfect interior environment. Nowadays, great design is all around us, available at most stores, online, in print, you can’t miss the overload of beautiful things for the home. You almost have to TRY NOT to find great stuff. So, how do we bring peace, love, support and comfort to our home amidst all of the “things”? Pretty is great, but the FEELING our home gives us is the ultimate reward for the effort we place in creating a nice interior world for ourselves.
What makes a house a home? Many say, “It’s all about the people who live there”, and yes, that can be the case. But what about if you live alone, or with only pets, are a single mom or dad, or you have a huge rambunctious family that is always on the go? Or perhaps it’s just you and your partner? Or you and your roomie? I mean, there are so many types of families out there and some families are a mess, some are stable, some are dysfunctional as hell, but even those homes can be somewhat better if some focus is placed on the decor and vibe of the overall space. No, I’m not crazy. Your environment plays a real role in your mental and emotional health, even your physical well-being. It can play tricks on us, for good or bad. If it’s a big, chaotic mess, our family problems will only increase. If we try to tame the chaos of our immediate environment, there is greater chance of you and your family feeling a bit more calm and at ease even amidst some genuine dysfunction or family problem.
Humans ultimately look to everyone else first to give us emotional strength, comfort, love and support and we blame others the moment our lights go out. Yet the REAL core of all that “energy” needs to come from the core of us. WE are responsible for our own happiness, and once we have a good amount of inner comfort, we can start to create a better energy that cycles around us, and that energy has a real chance of getting stronger, growing, and influencing others in a positive way.
I was reading yesterday about kids and screen time. A New York-based therapist wrote an excellent article on the HUFF POST about it. He suggests no screen time during the week and only 2 hours total on the weekends. Even for teenagers. And I found that a bit, well, impossible. But I’m sure he’s right and that it would be the ultimate scenario to have our child only consuming 2 hours A WEEK of screen time. I mean, that is less screen time than I had in the late 1980s when I came home each day and watched about 2 hours of MTV while I did my homework. I grew up with about 10-12 hours of screen time a week, and I turned out okay. Yet, still. The key point I took away from his expert advice was in the closing paragraph of his article, which was also the hardest truth to swallow as a parent. He said that if you want your kids to have less screen time, THEN YOU NEED TO SET THE EXAMPLE and get off your phone and show them you practice what you preach.
This is always what it comes down to, right? OUR EXAMPLE. What we do. We are responsible for setting an example, taking the lead, creating good energy inside and around us that can positively impact others, especially our family and home life. Even though “the people who live there” in our home can and do help to create the overall feeling of the space, it is up to us to decide how that space should look and feel and what we need to do exactly to get it there.
So let’s go through 6 steps that can help us create a home that feels good.
This is not as easy as you may think. Because perhaps you never thought of it until now, and that you had so much control firstly, and next, that you have so many different “feelings” in which you’d like to experience in your home. Maybe you want it to feel happy and playful. Perhaps more calm and centered. You may crave feelings of crafty/artsy and a bit “busy” with kids and dogs circling around you. It could be that you want your home to feel comfortable and safe. So write down maybe 1-5 “feelings” you want to FEEL when you are home for the most part. If this is hard for you to imagine, think about how you’d like your guests to FEEL when they enter your home. This can give you a better clue of your desires.
Don’t forget the others who live in your home. How do they want to feel? I was reading a book recently where the mom said that she doesn’t have a colorful Christmas even though her children like it, because she doesn’t like a lot of color around, it is one of her quirks, and her children have learned to live with it. But this made me instantly very sad for the kids. They have to have a monochromatic Christmas just because the mom doesn’t want red and green or whatever? Perhaps we can pick up the mood of the home by carefully and considerately picking up the mood of our family members and ask them what feelings they want at home. Think of ways to find a happy “middle” point. Then children and parents have harmony, it’s not about mom and her design sense, it’s about her partner, their children, what everyone wants to feel at home.
Note: I know some of us are real heavyweights in the design industry and we often push our families out when they want to get involved in the interior design of the space because we “know what’s best”, or we simply have our quirks and want others to live by them. Yet, it’s important to step back and think about how this is impacting our family life as a whole. Will the kids grow up and think of how selfish we were, how they couldn’t express themselves openly and safety in their own home, they couldn’t really be creative under the watchful eye of design-mama? Or will they grow up and say that their home was open and full of exploration, love and a good spirit. I am sometimes design-mama so I understand how sensitive this topic can be. Since having a child, and watching him grow from 0-6.5 years old, I’ve had to make adjustments in my home aesthetically and functionally speaking to meet his growing needs. What I’m saying is simply this: RELAX and take some of the pressure of perfection off of yourself. This can breath in a fresh new vibe of creativity and joy into your home because maybe to you, everything feels well but to your family, they may be too shy or scared to tell you the truth: they feel stressed and/or devalued.
Okay, onto a less sensitive topic. The next step is HOW can you get all of those feelings into your house, el pronto? Not tomorrow or next week, TODAY, or even more, the moment you finish reading this post. Write down 5 ways you can imagine bringing those feelings to your space. For instance, I love it when my home feels positive, happy, alive but also when it feels balanced and clean. So the way I would immediately be able to “freshen” the vibe in my home is to burn a candle in a favorite scent, put on a really powerful, motivating playlist, and organize my shoe chaos near the front door. But there’s much more…
Find what doesn’t work. I think of it like this: when you go to a doctor, it’s usually when you’re sick, not when you’re feeling great. You want to know what’s not working so he can help you to fix it. This is the first step to good health. For our home “health” it’s the same, look around with a super critical eye and find what doesn’t work. Do you repeatedly lose your keys? Are you consistently sleeping terribly? Does the wall color in your dining room bring you down? Is your bathtub in need of replacement? Does your faucet need to also be replaced? How about your sofa, could it use reupholstering? Don’t worry about how long the list becomes. But definitely make one. I suggest going through each room with a notebook. Each page is for each room, and each page has two columns – To Do and To Dream.
The To Do column is where you write down what needs done within a reasonable time period. Fix the broken shower head, for instance. The To Dream list is for when you’re standing in the living room and you want to replace your boring lounge chair with the TOGO from Ligne Roset but you know that’s not something you need to be happy nor is it something you need today. However, it’s nice to have a dream list because it gives you something to aspire to.
When your lists are finished, then decide which room gets attention first. Often, it’s a “wet” room like a kitchen or bath, since these are used the most. As you determine where the attention goes, flow your energy (and money) there. Solve those problems one by one. You’ll immediately feel your stress level lower when things start to work better in your home – because things will also start to FEEL BETTER.
I don’t care who you follow, Marie Kondo, The Home Edit, Martha Stewart – just find an organization role model and learn from them. Study everything they do. Try to get your home together so that you can easily take a full inventory of anything in less than a minute. Do you need Q-tips? Do you need more laundry detergent? How many vacuum bags do you have left? There is a great feeling in having so much knowledge about your home. It may sound petty, but being in control of your environment can make you feel like a goddess. We crave control, let’s face it, but most of life is out of our control. Your home is the spot where you can be a control queen. Organize well, de-clutter, donate, sell, upcycle, give-away. It’s all going to play into your overall feeling at home and trust me, no one feels good when the house is a disaster and clothes are piled to the ceiling.
Also deep clean. So much grows around and under and over us in our space – mold, mildew, bacteria, dust, so keep the space clean – especially the wet rooms and the sleep rooms. I deep clean my bedroom every Sunday, it has improved my sleep quality and I feel calmer and more relaxed in my bedroom since I de-cluttered it and then, decided to really give it a deep clean on Sundays.
I can’t stress this enough. Get a hold of your inner world so that your outer world can mirror something that you’re proud of. Usually people who are stressed, constantly late, rushed, have health problems, are all suffering somewhere on the inside, and a lot of times it’s the emotional state. Try to use this crazy ass Corona year as a year to self reflect and really get to the core of who you are. It’s okay that you may be a hot mess right now, no judgement because I’ve had a crap year too, but you will feel so much better once you find some peace inside. Think about what’s broken inside of you. Hire a therapist. See a doctor. Go away to a quiet little cabin in the woods and cry for a few days and journal. Whatever works but do something. Because we can’t save anyone else or even create a home that feels peaceful, happy and good, if we are deeply hurting or unable to cope with our life. I have dealt with some really hard times over my life and I’m still fixing, digging out, and trying to relax more. And from this life experience, I’ve also seen how my home feels better when I feel better. You just process everything on a higher level when you work on yourself.
So, I hope these tips help you and give you some guidance as to how to create a home that feels good to you and your family. I write it all out of experience and love, not out of judgement, because God knows I’m no Pollyanna. However, not being a Pollyanna also drives me to write posts like this – because I don’t judge others since I can deeply relate.
Love and (please share) this post if it resonates.
(Photo: Holly Becker)