This month I have invited Sarah Swain, interior designer to write a blog for me. Sarah’s business Cohesive Living offers a unique approach combining interior design and coaching, to enable you to overhaul home and life simultaneously, leaving you with an empowering new environment for your next chapter.
Have you ever bought a new winter coat and just knew that the style, fit and warmth meant that you would be well-equipped to confidently and stylishly face the inclement weather?
What about that new pair of shoes that support your in-step and ankles perfectly, but the flash of purple on the buckle makes you smile as you exert some personality into a uniformed office environment?
And what about your hair? How uplifted do you feel when you return, newly-highlighted or freshly coiffed from the salon or barbers?
When a friend of mine was going through a difficult period in his life and having to face real challenges that were not of his making, he would keep his hair extremely short. “It’s my fighting cut, mate”, he would say; it made him feel strong and focussed.
Reinvention through redecoration
We’re quite used to the idea of personal image being (consciously or unconsciously) a sign of our circumstances and a way of reinventing ourselves. But have you ever thought that our homes do the same thing?
I’m sure you have places that you love to go to; places where you feel relaxed, creative, stimulated. And you can also probably name others that leave you underwhelmed and drained of energy.
Our homes are indicators of our lives and, in turn, they can impact on you positively and negatively.
For example, can we really sustain a ‘successful’ life outside of our home if we come back to a space that is unkempt or full of clutter? Maybe we can, for a while, but what is this juxtaposition telling you? Why are you living in two different ways? Which is the true you?
Our homes are emotional
As Weale, Croake & Weale wrote in Environmental Interiors, we don’t just experience our environments through our senses; we also experience them through reasoning or thought, memory or imagination, through emotions (both pleasant and unpleasant) and through anticipation or expectation. And this is why redecorating can be quite an emotional business.
It’s not just about physically tidying up. It’s also about reflecting on what that extraneous (ie, un-needed or unloved) stuff is distracting you from. In the same way as we may ‘hide’ in shape-less clothing when we’re not feeling body-confident; what is the domestic clutter covering up? Literally or metaphorically!
The opposite of untidy can be indicative too. Have you ever walked in to a home that was immaculate and beautifully maintained, but the atmosphere was cold? And I don’t mean they didn’t have the thermostat high enough! When you think back to the relationship between the inhabitants, was that warm, relaxed and loving? I’m guessing possibly not.
Is your home empowering you?
This isn’t about your design style per se; it is about whether your home is helping or hindering your life. Is there enough storage so that family ‘stuff’ has a place to be put away? Is your home-office organised so that conversations about the finances can take place without having to hunt for the paperwork first? Are your kitchen cupboards set up to support your healthy eating? Why are you hoarding paperwork/CDs/books/garden tools (delete as appropriate)?
Have a look around your home and ask yourself what it is currently saying about you and your life choices. I don’t mean how big it is or whether you own or rent. I mean, how are you caring for it? Does it reflect your personality? Is it organised in a way that supports your every day life? Is it a sanctuary or a springboard? Or, ideally, both?
Spruce up your home (self) image
As an interior designer I am privileged to be invited in to people’s homes and I see some of their most personal spaces. The shift in energy when a design comes to fruition is palpable. Like a new hair-style or better fitting outfits, those décor changes (however subtle) empower and support us to live the best version of ourselves…whoever that truly is. They have created a space for change.
Each of the following elements warrant an article on their own, but think about these headings in the context of your home;
- functionality and ergonomics
- delineation of spaces (psychologically and physically),
- noise levels
- access to nature
- aesthetics (including colour)
Consider what adjustments (they needn’t be huge) you can make to your home to support your everyday life, so that it helps you face the world (like the coat). As well as working efficiently and showing the real you through colour that matches your personality (like the shoe). And then gives you the confidence and spring in your step, like the fabulous new hair-do!