Intentional Design

How to Design Intentionally when You Don’t Have Control over Your Home

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I am a big advocate for decorating your home and removing excess clutter from your life. But, what can you do if you don’t have full control over your home? What if you are living with your parents? What if you are renting a room in someone’s home? Or what if you share your home with a messy partner who refuses to be organized?

There are two things that are important to keep in mind in this situation. First, you always have some control over a bit of space, even if it is just your bed or a space in the closet. Secondly, it is important to be respectful with those you live. You can express your needs to others but also be mindful to not try and force another person to change. When we cannot accept others, I guarantee that it also means that you are not fully willing to accept yourself.

So, let’s first look at what you can control. I want you to take a moment to think about what is within your control and what areas in the home those you live with might be willing to let you take over in the organization and decoration department. For the areas over which you absolutely have control, what kind of state are these areas in? Do you have dried toothpaste stuck to the inside of your drawer in the bathroom? Is your closet or dresser stuffed with clothes that you no longer like or that no longer fit? Clean up these spaces. Make them work for you and be aligned with who you are today, not who you were ten years ago. This is about taking personal responsibility. Your life does not have to be on hold just because the circumstances of your life are not exactly where you want them to be.

Now, consider what spaces you can update over which you have full control. Maybe it is time to take down an old poster and put up a framed photo of a place or person you love. Maybe it is time to give yourself a nightstand rather than continuing on with a pile of stuff by your bed. Again, remember to live for now, not for some perfect day in the future when you can afford an exquisite piece of furniture. If you need to purchase something off of Craig’s List and spray paint it your favorite color then do that. Own your space and take care of yourself today. You are always deserving of your care and attention.

As you think about other common spaces within your home, consider if there are other areas in which you could make your mark. Perhaps other people in your home might even be grateful if someone took charge of organizing pots and pans, the pile of shoes by the front door, or the towering pile of DVDs in the living room. It may not sound so glamorous but this is part of taking responsibility for the state of your home and life. Ask before you take charge and be mindful of your tone. Let others know that this is what you would like to do for yourself and the benefit of the community, not because you are trying to control others or passively act out your aggression.

When it comes to actual decorations, you may or may not have much control. Perhaps you live with someone who couldn’t care less how the house is decorated and is fine with you stylistically changing things up. But perhaps you are living with someone who is intent on keeping their 1980’s decorations intact. Or perhaps you are living with someone who feels threatened by you changing things in the common areas. Working with these situations is a fine line and can also depend greatly on your living situation. If you are renting a room in someone’s home, that situation can look very different from sharing a home with your significant other. You always have a right to respectfully let someone know what you would like to do but it will take some discernment to decide whether or not to press an issue and when to let go.

Something that I would like to encourage you to keep in mind is if the person you are living with is being difficult about you changing the space, while they may undoubtedly be difficult, they are also being difficult because they are having an emotional struggle on some level. If this is your significant other, it could be appropriate to ask them what concerns them about changing the space. If it is your landlord, the conversation may or may not be appropriate.

Regardless of how far you are able to make progress on changing the common areas within your home, I encourage you to remain committed to updating what you can. And for the areas that you cannot change but wish you could, I encourage you to make peace with the situation. Not everything in our life is within our control and yet we can still have peace and joy in life. A messy common area does not have to define you and it does not have to be what steals your peace. The more that you take ownership for what you can control the more you will find joy with your space and subsequently joy in your life.

Have heart. Life is always a work in progress and we do the best that we can.

Why You Should Redecorate Your Home during a Life Transition

Unless you regularly take time to take stock of your life and your habits, chances are many of your day-to-day actions are on autopilot. But new transitions in life almost always require us to update our thinking. The trouble is, we rarely realize this necessity and then wonder why things are working less than optimally.

Take for instance entering into a long-term relationship. I am reading a fantastic book right now called What No One Tells the Bride by Marge Stark. It is revolutionary to have someone say that although I may be in a fantastic relationship (which I am); it is perfectly normally to miss your old life, to squabble over basic things like how to load the dishwasher, and to struggle with forming new patterns of communication. Entering into a new phase of life requires new thinking and sometimes an updated set of beliefs. For instance, maybe it doesn’t matter if the dishwasher is loaded just right.

Taking the time to update your home is a perfect process for taking stock of what in your life needs to change and how. When we take the time to change our home, we give ourselves permission to change our beliefs and actions too. Think of it as a refresh. Every aspect of our life needs a refresh from time to time.

As you look around your home and identify what no longer serves you, you will – even if subconsciously – begin to do the same with your beliefs and actions. It is easy to get stuck in a particular way of being, perhaps even a way of being that may have worked well for you in the past. We are creatures of habit by nature after all and most people are uncomfortable with the possibility of being “wrong.” But if we can give ourselves the chance to make changes, we can breathe fresh air and new possibilities into our life. Think of how great your relationship with your partner could be if you didn’t waste energy squabbling over how the dishwasher ought to be loaded?

So, how can you start the process of updating your home? First, I recommend clearing away the clutter. Clutter keeps our minds cloudy and unable to think clearly. Clutter is distracting and keeps us attached to the past whether we mean to or not. And then secondly, clean. Do a really good, thorough cleaning of your home. As you clean your home, you are telling yourself that you are worthy of your care and attention. Cleaning is cathartic and energetically updates the energy in your home.

Now, it is time to take stock of what is around you. If you can identify any energy sucks in your home; the items that bring on any negative feelings when you look at them like guilt, disdain, or maybe even anger, let them go now! No matter how beautiful or expensive something might be, if it brings your energy down, then it will never be valuable enough to keep in your home. While others in your life may have an opinion about what to keep or toss, only you can know whether or not an item is adding value to your life. So, trust yourself first and foremost on this one.

And now, finally, it is time to decide what to add into your home or what to update. While you may have loved your green and purple bed set in college, if it doesn’t feel like you any more, then maybe it is time to update it. Maybe you can envision a better layout of your living room furniture. Then let the rearranging begin! Maybe you have always wanted to start an herb garden. Then breakout the soil and seeds!

If you can afford to update an entire room and you want to, then go for it. But if you can only afford to make more minor changes, then I still recommend you do that. Do be fiscally responsible (or else you will have a whole other set of problems) but do take the time to add some new energy to your home; to make your new intentions known to yourself and to others who might stop by for a visit.

Updating our home provides us with new energy, a new sense of empowerment, increased motivation, and a clearer sense of who we are, what we are doing, and why. The more that we can consciously enter a new life phase, the more likely we are to enjoy it. So here is to life transitions and making the most out of them!

How to Attract More Opportunities into Your Life through Interior Design

Because our physical spaces always reflect what is going on internally, you can design your home to attract new opportunities into your life. The best place to focus on in your home is your front door. Think about. Your front door is how you arrive home. It is the portal through which you bring in the new and send out the old. It is the place where friends and strangers knock; asking for permission to enter your life. This is why I recommend paying attention to your front door if you are looking to attract new opportunities into your life.

Think about what kind of message your front door is currently saying about your life. You can also consider any side doors from which you might enter your home on a regular basis. Is the entry way clean? Is the path clear from clutter, dead plants, out of season door wreaths, etc.? Is there good lighting by your door? Is the door damaged and does it open and close easily? Is your front door easy to find? Are there house numbers nearby?

Whatever the state of your front door may be, I bet you can find a parallel to your own life. If your door is hard to find or open, perhaps you are having difficulty finding new opportunities or getting people to pay attention to you. If the path to your front door is cluttered or filled with old, neglected items, do you feel unclear about what you want to attract into your life? Parallels between the state of your home and the state of your life are often strikingly strong. This is because whatever level of consciousness we are operating at will be fulfilled in both our physical space and the state of our life. So, let’s take a look at what we can do to update our level of consciousness.

Here are some of the best things you can do to your home to start attracting new opportunities into your life.

Clean Your Front Door and the Space Around It

Cleaning is always the best place to start. Wash your door, sweep your walk way, and mop or vacuum the floor in your entry way. Cleaning shows the world that you are serious about being taken seriously.

Remove Clutter

If you have any clutter or neglected items by your front door or in your entry way, it’s time to toss the mess. Clutter keeps energy stagnant and keeps you holding onto the past. If you want new opportunities to enter your life then you need to make the space for them to enter.

Improve Light and Labeling

If it is at all within your control, make sure the lighting by your front door is in working order and that your home is easy to find. Making sure your home is clear and visible is also how you can improve the chance for new opportunities to find you.

Add a Welcoming Atmosphere

Finally, consider and then implement a few things you can do to make your front door appear more welcoming. Perhaps you can add a fern or a pot of flowers by your front door. Maybe you could paint the door, hang a wind chime, or add a small bench to the area. Whatever you can do to make this space appear more welcoming will help new opportunities be attracted to you.

The reason why these improvements work is because while you are improving your home, you are improving your mindset too. You are improving your mindset in several ways. First, you are taking yourself more seriously and being more self-loving. We are much less likely to be mere spectators in our lives when we are taking loving actions of self-care on a regular basis. Second, you are building awareness around whether or not your actions are helping or hurting you. As you improve the visibility of your home, you are also encouraging yourself to think honestly about what you are or are not doing to make yourself noticed in the world. Third, you are helping yourself gain clarity on what exactly it is that you want to attract into your life. Sometimes sheer inertia keeps us confused about what we actually want. By shaking up your routine, you are reenergizing yourself and allowing new clarity to come into your life. And fourth, you are giving yourself the needed energy to reignite your sense of motivation. By taking action to improve your front door, you are much more likely to start taking other positive steps in your life. Like begets like. Once you start moving, it will be much easier to keep the momentum going.

You’re on your way!

What You Must Do Before Designing Your Home

As a person who can spend hours at a time thinking about, looking at, and creating interior designs, I understand well that there is a whole world out there filled with endless design possibilities. And so much of what I see, I love! Perhaps like me you might find yourself daydreaming about a modern, blue couch, and then trolling around on-line for a Kilim rug, and then pondering if it’s time to go more minimalistic or overstuffed-romantic in your home. You too might be attracted to a variety of design styles.

But the thing is, as much as we may love a variety of styles, there are only a few styles that will be an ideal, energetic match for who we are today and where we want to go. This internal set point changes of course throughout our lives but if we want our homes to help us evolve, it’s important to pay attention. To do this, let’s see where we can start.

First, I want you to get comfortable and close your eyes. We’re going to do a little visualization exercise because when we let go of expectations and allow our minds to relax, a whole lot of interesting and useful information can rise to the surface.

As you take a deep breath with your eyes closed, let your body and mind let go of the day. Allow yourself to have a break and relax in this moment. Take another deep inhale and exhale and then imagine yourself walking through a door and into a room that puts you at ease. What is it about this room that makes you feel good? What colors and textures do you notice around you? Is there furniture? If so, what kind of style is the furniture? Are there any sounds or smells that you notice? Allow yourself to spend a few more moments just soaking up the feeling of this room. Let that feeling work its way into your body and take a few more deep inhales and exhales as you luxuriate in this feeling. Do this short exercise before you read any further.

Now, with your eyes open, turn to a computer screen or piece of paper and write down a few adjectives that describe how you felt in this room. And once you have done that, if there are any style specifics about the room that you remember, write that down too. Maybe the room had a lot of natural light, smelled like vanilla, was all white or a deep shade of crimson, maybe a certain kind of music was playing, or maybe this room was dedicated to a certain kind of activity.

As you read over these descriptions about how you felt and what you noticed, you should know that these qualities are actually the kinds of qualities that speak to your internal point of equilibrium. Everyone’s set point, in terms of what puts them at ease is different but the qualities you uncovered are what are specific to you. You might have even visualized yourself at a rock concert or sitting by yourself in a quiet place in nature. What you visualized is your mind’s creative way of telling you a bit about yourself.

Because the design of our home is a great way to help us along the path of finding peace, clarity, and joy in our lives, this is why we need to know how we want to feel. If we are not at ease in our environment, we are much less likely to find the permission to be ourselves and make decisions that are in alignment with who we really are. We may be inspired by photos of dramatic black and white rooms but if we change our decor to all black and white and don’t feel comfortable in our space, then we have done ourselves a disservice. Like me, there are probably a multitude of styles that you enjoy looking at. But, even more likely, there is a smaller range of styles that actually sink up well with you on an energetic level.

To learn how to take this information to uncover your design style and start transforming your life, download my free e-book, Designing by Intuition. After reading the book and doing the exercises, you should have a clear sense of your style and a plan to begin making changes to your home and subsequently your life.

How to Use Your Home to Amp Up Life Clarity

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably spent some years of your life lacking life clarity. You might have asked yourself: “What is my purpose?” “What should I do?” “Am I wasting my time?” These may be familiar questions that have rolled through your mind on repeat. While unfortunately I cannot tell you what you should do with your life (head’s up: no one can and there is no such thing as “shoulds”) I can help you with the process of making space for your own inner clarity to rise to the surface.

Within you, there is always the answer on what would be the best next step for your highest good. It may not be the answer we want that delivers the 30 year, life picture in high definition color but there is always some best next step. If you were really willing to listen and follow through on what your inner voice has to say, the answer might be something like: “Please, turn off the T.V. and just go take a nap,” or “It’s time to end this relationship,” or “Don’t give up on yourself too fast. Apply for this job,” or “Just take today one step at a time.”

It can be frustrating to only hear snippets of information. We resist this information because although our wiser self knows that it is true, our egos want certainty, clarity; some kind of guarantee for our happiness and success. I’m sorry, but that’s the way our higher selves work and still we must listen and develop self-compassion if we hope to find genuine happiness.

Now, developing this process on just the mental level can be quite taxing. I know; I’ve consumed so many spiritual books and have meditated and journaled for hours to only varying, temporary degrees of success. But, to make progress, the work does not have to be just internal. We can tend to our external world too, which reflects back to the Self messages of “I love you,” “I am caring for you,” “I am providing you with peace, joy, and clarity.” Because the state of our internal and external world is such a strong, reflective, two-way street, we can tend to either one and experience benefits for both.

So, let’s look at some specific steps we can take to amp up the clarity in our lives.

Clean your Home

You thought I was going to start by saying clearing clutter, did you? Well, that’s step two but step one is to clean. And cleaning is even more important that clearing clutter because one, we tend to have less resistance to cleaning than getting rid of things, and two, because a clean home is the number one way to send the message to ourselves that “We are worthy of being tended to.” Living in a mess is chaotic and depressing. It zaps our clarity and sends a strong message to the Self of unworthiness. Even if you are struggling with depression or low self-confidence, clean your home, or even a part of your home, and the message of self-love will be registered internally. It’s true.

Clear Some, A Little Bit, Any Clutter

Now I’m definitely not insisting here that you need to manage all of the clutter and unused or unnecessary items in your life. You don’t need to aim for outer perfection because you don’t need to aim for inner perfection. Aiming for perfection is not congruent with self-love. You just need to aim to sometimes be kinder to yourself. This is a doable place to start just as is sorting through the mail pile or throwing out your socks with holes in them or donating the clothes your kids have outgrown.

Each time you take a small step to clear some of the clutter in your life, you will experience a dose of relief, an internal sense of some more freedom and clarity gained, and a jolt of joy. Imagine walking past the counter that no longer has a pile of unsorted mail. Relief! Imagine opening up your sock drawer that only contains socks you know you can put on for the day. Freedom! Imagine no longer having to push through piles of unused clothing in an overflowing closet to get what you actually need. Relief, freedom, clarity, and joy!

Small steps really make a difference and are an excellent way to cultivate self-compassion because the Universe cares for you and now you know that you care for yourself too.

Identify the Energy Sucks and Let Them Go

Every object in our life has the potential to uplift us or drain us. While of course many objects may be neutral, some can have a particularly strong pull. What do you think about the art hanging on your walls? Is there a picture that you once bought with an ex before the relationship came to a painful end? It may be a beautiful picture but it may be time to let it go if every time you look at it you feel bitterness or loss. Only you can know but remember: your feelings don’t lie and your feelings are the perfect barometer for discerning whether or not you have an item that is an energy suck in your home.

Letting go of the energy suck items in your home allows your mind to have more clarity and neutrality in your own home. Less than pleasant emotions are not a reflection of who we really are. The truth of who we are is love, joy, and beauty. So, I implore you to ditch the items that bring you down because they will only keep you focused on an idea that does not reflect the truth of who you are. And if getting rid of an item is too much right now, it’s okay to put it in a box or stash it in a friend’s garage. This is still a self-compassionate step and a way to regain some of your clarity.

Add Some Inspiration to Your Home

What is inspiration? Inspiration can be anything that fills you with a jolt of excitement, makes you feel motivated, or fills you with a sense of peace. For some, inspiration in their home might come in the form of a beloved and frequently used tea pot. It might be a gym bag, ready to go, by your front door. It might be a photo of someone who inspires you or a quote on your computer monitor that helps you feel grounded.

You don’t need to worry about how specifically the inspirational items in your home are going to bring you more life clarity. What you need to know is that anything that feels inspirational to you is a reflection of the truth within you. The joy you feel in the immediate moment will continue to resonate within. It serves as an energetic homing device; helping you stay focused on what is real and bypassing what isn’t. Even if you are struggling to have coherent thoughts about what to do with your life, trust that your feelings are there to serve you; they are there to help you find your way if you know how to use them. And now, you do!

In summary, following these steps are excellent ways to start building internal clarity. You don’t need to sit in front of a blank computer screen and start generating a list of what you should do with your life. Besides, even if you do, you will likely doubt these ideas and remain in a state of homeostasis. Cultivating the ability to turn within and hear from yourself what is the best next step to take in life that will serve your highest good can take some time. But the more that you can take concrete steps to cultivate this clarity through a self-compassionate process, the more likely you are to start experiencing some results. So, pick up your broom and a bottle of cleaner, and have a little patience.

What Your Home Can Tell You about Yourself

As I’ve said before, your home is the perfect reflection of where you are at in life. Don’t believe me? Take a look around! Take a moment and look around your home? Without judging yourself, what are some adjectives you would use to describe the state of your home? Go ahead and write down these adjectives, they will be useful in a minute. See if you can write a list of five to seven adjectives.

Now, it’s okay if some feelings come up for you. If your feelings are negative, just know that the feelings are there to help you understand what is going on; they do not reflect the truth of who you are. The truth of who you are is never negative and that’s a fact.

As you looked around your home, you might have noted your home is clutter, unorganized, half finished, dusty, or in transition. Or maybe you noticed that your home seems serene, lively, orderly, a perfect reflection of you, or maybe beautiful but not really you. There is no good or bad way for it to be. It just is what it is right now and a perfect tool, just like your emotions, to tell you how to move forward in your life in a way that serves your highest good.

Now, take another look at your list and see if some of the adjectives are a reflection of where you are currently at in your life. If one of your adjectives was “in transition” do you notice that you also feel that way yourself? Do you see the words “un-loved,” “dumping ground,” “chaotic,” “dull,” or “overly stimulated?” None of these words are bad news. In fact, they are great news because they can help you objectively see what is happening and whether or not you are actually okay with what is going on.

Maybe you do come up with the word “in transition,” but you know that that is exactly where you are at and feeling good about the work you are doing to move through the transition. Or maybe you have the word “in-transition” but know that you have done nothing to move your life forward since losing your job or relationship six months ago. Then, this is a great opportunity to use your home to help you transition even if you are not exactly sure how to change the emotional state or specifics of your life. Your home really can be that tool to help you start making some positive shifts.

Maybe one of the words on your list was “dull.” Only you can know whether or not this is helping or hurting you and the way that you know is by the reaction or feeling you get when looking at the word. Perhaps to you dull is a relief after having lived too chaotically for too long. Maybe you instinctively feel that you need this subdued time in your life to restore some inner balance. But maybe you have battling depression for a long time and you instinctively know that a dull environment is only adding to the weight you feel in your life. It’s okay if you don’t have the vision or motivation right now to overhaul your life. But you can make some adjustments to ease the dullness in your home, which will absolutely have some positive ramifications on the way you feel.

As a final example, perhaps one of your words is something like “stifled.” You might have a beautiful, curated home and yet still the word you chose was “stifled.” Why do you think that might be? Your feelings don’t lie; they are always on point but sometimes we have to dig a little under the surface to understand them. So, what might stifled mean when living in such a beautiful home? Here is where you can get curious and ask yourself some questions like: “Does my home feel like a reflection of me?” or “Do I feel safe or welcome here?”

If your answers are no to these questions, you can be sure that this is also how you feel about your own life. Perhaps these “no” answers mean that you are not really living your life in a way that is a good fit for who you really are. This realization doesn’t mean that you have to overhaul your life in one fell swoop. You may not have the clarity for that at this moment and it may not even be practically possible. But, there is always something you can do to begin making positive shifts towards more enjoyment in your life. Changing your life for the better is always a process that slowly brings about more clarity. And changing your environment is a great way to move you along this process and experience some tangible and some times more immediate moments of satisfaction.

As you see the parallels between the state of your home and the state of your life, go ahead and write down more specifically what you notice taking place in your life. In a future post, I will show you how to take this awareness and turn it into some fun, concrete steps you can take to start moving your life forward for the better. Hang in there; your home and your life are always a beautiful work in progress.


How to Choose the "Right" Colors when Decorating

Today I came across a fun, on-line post about decorating with color and the effect it can have on our psyche. Loving anything about decorating, Feng Shui, or personal awareness, I clicked on it in mild amusement.

As I have read many times before, the post talked about what colors to use in certain rooms and why. However, this time, I came across recommendations that I haven’t read before. The post recommended green in the bedroom, rather than the typical red, and to use yellow in the living room rather than the home office. I’ve read before that red can increase feelings of romance, thus possibly making it a good bedroom color, and that yellow is mentally stimulating thus making it a good office color.

But here’s the thing, you’ve probably also read something different than the article I read today or the advice from other sources I have read in the past. It is true that color can affect our mood and that keeping color in mind can be a good idea when updating your home or moving into a new office.

But, this advice is never one size fits all. For instance, blue is a calming color for most and is generally not recommended to use in a work environment. This is because it is thought that a more stimulating color is better for alertness, mental concentration, and creativity. But, perhaps you have a high stress job or work in a soul sucking, contentious atmosphere. Perhaps then blue is exactly what you need to make it through the day.

Or perhaps, for you, blue is actually an invigorating color. Maybe it makes you feel rejuvenated like a day spent by the ocean does. No one really knows but you. And that is the single most important factor when it comes to decorating with color: know yourself!

It may be tempting, especially if you are not into decorating or consider yourself a person who does not have a strong sense of style, to follow someone else’s advice. But strictly following someone else’s advice will lead you to living a life that is not in sync with you. You won’t end up with your desired feeling at the end of the day because you haven’t listened to and acted upon your personal preferences.

It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start but remember, it isn’t necessary to aim for perfection right out of the gate. You just need to start with one or two things that you know to be true for you.

To figure that out, I encourage you to take a moment to be still. Get comfortable, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Now, let your mind wander to a place that feels really good to you. Maybe it’s a place that makes you feel alive and inspired. Maybe it’s a place that makes you feel expansive and tranquil. Maybe it’s a place that feels soothing and grounded. Let your mind take you to a place that feels good to you in this moment.

When you get there, try to notice as many details as you can. Are there other people there? Are you in a man-made space or a place in nature? What are the colors and textures around you? What is the temperature like? Is it noisy or quite? If there is sound, from where is it coming? Soak up all of these details and notice how your body feels. Notice how your mind feels. What kinds of emotions are you experiencing? Would you like to feel this way more often?

When you open your eyes, take a moment to write down the details you saw and felt. Our imaginations have a brilliant way of telling us what we long for. In your visualization did your imagination show you that you long to feel more energized? More grounded? Calmer? More attractive or put together? What did you experience and what types of colors and textures did your imagination show you that for you represents those feelings?

This is the first step to understanding how your environment can affect the way you feel and how visuals in your environment represent those feelings. From this centered place of knowing, now you have the beginning of your road map to decorating your environment in a way that feels nourishing to you.

As you read articles about color, see whether or not the information resonates with you. If it does, that’s nice. If it doesn’t, allow yourself to set that information aside. As you look at inspirational design pictures on-line, see if there are certain pictures that match your desired feelings. You may come across many beautiful photos but only a few that make you feel the way you felt during your visualization. That match in feeling can serve as a guide for how to update your space.

When updating your space, your confidence or budget may have you start with only adding a small potted plant to sit by your window or a colorful scarf to throw over the back of your office chair. Small starts are perfectly fine because what you are doing is adding visual elements to your surroundings that are a match for how you want to feel. You are claiming a space, however subtle, and positively affecting your psyche.

Now, go on and do that visualization and start making the changes that you have identified to be right for you! There is no need to doubt yourself when it comes to decorating with color. You are the one with the answers after all. :)