Whether we realize it or not, our built environments can either support or sabotage us.
That’s a pretty bold statement!
Let’s back it out a bit.
Maybe “sabotage” is a bit strong, so let’s evaluate:
Suppose your goal is to provide healthy and balanced meals for your family. Unfortunately, every time you need the InstaPot or air fryer (which is at least weekly at my house), you have to trek to the storage room downstairs. Then, you struggle to pull it out of the Jenga stack of small appliances that don’t have a home in your pantry-less kitchen.
Or, maybe you’re a parent who feels energized and ready to tackle the challenges of a special needs’ child only AFTER your morning workout. But there’s no one to watch the babies while you go to the gym. You could really use a home gym.
Maybe you’re operating a side hustle that brings in a little extra income to pay for the soccer fees and family trips. But there’s not a dedicated space for the work to be done so you spend twice as much time creating and delivering that product.
Sounds like a bit of a sabotage for all the goals and goodness that you’re working so hard for.
Instead, you could be flourishing in a home that is “nurturing”.
So, what exactly can be done to create a home that nurtures and supports our good intentions and efforts? And can it only be achieved if we start from scratch?
BEGIN WHERE YOU ARE:
Listed below are five key steps that just about anyone can implement right away, exactly where they are.
1. Clear the clutter.
It sounds simple, but it’s massively effective.
Here’s a simple approach I use to detach myself from the things that have filled my home and seem essential: keep a box or bin that the less-used or less-desirable items can go in for an interim period of time.
These items are “on-hold.”
IF you find yourself looking for a particular item while it’s on hold, feel free to snatch it before it heads to the local Goodwill store.
2. Observe the natural patterns of life.
Create a system that works WITH those naturally occurring rhythms instead of fighting against them.
For example, if you find yourself using the InstaPot every other day, while the crock pot only gets used on a monthly basis, switch them out. Keep the InstaPot handy and move the crock pot to the storage room.
Whatever it is, find the best way for you to do you.
3. Think outside the box.
Need more storage for the board games your family loves to play every Sunday night but you’ve run out of closet space? Utilize a furniture piece with a storage option that can serve a dual purpose by being both practical and pretty.
Our sofa table is actually a cabinet-style console table (see pic) that is used for this exact purpose.
Maybe your coffee table can be replaced with a storage ottoman or a bedroom window bench can also hold extra bed linens.
Get creative and think “dual purpose!”
4. Reconfigure the room layout or space plan.
Our galley-style laundry room functioned horribly until we switched things up.
Instead of moving a wall or adding more square footage, we simply changed the layout to a L-shaped laundry room. Then we switched out or added features that the previous laundry room didn’t need or lacked. (see pics)
5. Create groupings for the win.
Sometimes what causes the discombobulation or negative vibrations in our bodies is the randomness and dissociations we see all around us.
Remember that Sesame Street game where we had to find one of these things [that] is not like the other?
Practice this in the rooms of your home. Find things that are similar in nature, use, purpose, size, or shape and group them together.
Creating a balanced, focused, and intentional space can also help it to feel more restful and calm – which leaves us feeling more restful and calm.
FOR FUTURE/NEW HOMES:
If you’re in the market for designing and/or building a new home for yourself (and your family), below are the top tips I share with my clients as we work together to create an intentional home that will nurture and support them and their loved ones.
1. Trust your intuition.
I like to remind clients that they know what is best for them and their family.
Feedback from others who have traveled a bit further on life’s journey might be useful. And a colleague might have a different perspective about the orientation of the home or the usefulness of the space that’s great to consider.
So, yes – go ahead and ask for thoughts and feedback from coworkers, in-laws, and besties.
But remember who’ll be living there at the end of it all. That’s right – YOU!
2. Create spaces that fit the personalities of the occupants.
Do you and your housemates love hosting social gatherings? Does it fill your soul to invite half the neighborhood for dinner and games?
Or are you more energized by quiet time and deep one-on-one conversations?
Maybe you’re a combination of both (me, totally).
Working with an intentional home designer will help you create spaces that fit all the ways your home needs to function.
For some, this looks like a built-in home gym for neighborhood badminton tournaments. Others need a quiet, out-of-the-way-but-still-within-hearing-range, oversized stair landing for the introvert who likes observing, but doesn’t need to participate with the group.
3. Make room for the hobbies and interests you and your family love most.
It doesn’t matter if the Thompsons down the street have a giant playroom with all the kids’ toys in it or that the Andersons have an awesome craft room and your sister-in-law has a gourmet kitchen.
If it’s not for you, don’t include it! (See #2 above)
Maybe instead, you and your kids love to play games on the VR headset together.
Or you love theater and entertain with original scripts and storylines performed for others.
You have kids who do their own laundry? Awesome! What’s their laundry method?
Or, you could be on the flip side and are a neat freak who gets a sense of satisfaction from folding and organizing the clean laundry? Go you! What’s YOUR laundry process?
Need a homework station close enough to where you’re prepping dinner?
Do you like to work on cars with your growing teen boys?
The possibilities are endless. Take inventory of your family’s goals, hobbies, and interests and then design for those particular items.
4. Think multi-dimensionally.
What this entails is taking stock of all the possibilities – future stages of life, future opportunities, future needs, wants, desires, goals, etc.
But before getting too overwhelmed by all the “what ifs” take a deep breath and apply what I like to call the “90/10” rule.
Once you’ve gained a big-picture perspective, bring it all back down by asking just one question: “What is the (known) use or need for this space 90% of the (known) time?”
Now that you’ve thought through potential future scenarios, you can begin to consider how to accommodate the 10% needs/use.
5. Evaluate and revisit your home priorities regularly.
How do you want to spend your valuable resources of time and money? (Money is renewable, but time is not.)
Do you want the “magazine spread” house or are you okay with a little bit of a “lived-in” look?
Do you need room to roam and spread out or are intimate spaces more your jam?
Do you prefer things or experiences?
REMEMBER, YOU DO YOU!
This is a judgement-free zone here. Once you know what living your best life looks like, then you can reverse-engineer your living conditions to accomplish that best-lived life.
We’ve all been in spaces that are cozy and comfortable, that we don’t want to leave. And we’ve all experienced the “icky” vibe that other places and spaces give off.
What we may NOT have done is properly credited our surroundings as that source of strength or sabotage that we are experiencing.
Start taking note of how you feel in a park, a church, a hospital, school, or cafe. Any one of those places can be supportive or draining. It’s a personal experience for everyone.
My challenge to you is to discover what environments feel supportive to YOU.
Happy New Year, friends!
Your Home Design Advocate,