How do you feel in your current space?
How do you want to feel?
Calm? Rested? Energized? Soothed? Healed? Strong? Powerful? Peaceful? Loved...?
Really think about it. This may sound crazy, but I find that a lot of people arrange their rooms based on how the spaces will look, or how the spaces will be seen by others. I've had many clients who've decorated their houses to please society's idea of what the space should look like, rather than please themselves.
Living rooms should have couches, coffee tables, and big pieces of art on the walls, right? Bedrooms should have bedroom sets. Family rooms should have televisions, and big, comfy furniture in which to become a potato.
Actually, they only have to look that way if that's what you really want. You have choices, you know.
I'm always saddened when I see cold, unused formal dining rooms in people's homes. They may look beautiful, but if they're only used to hold a bunch of beautiful stuff (that - just maybe - you don't even like), and not really used... well, enough said.
I'm thinking of an elderly couple - former clients of mine - who never ate in their dining room. It became a clutter magnet, full of tschotkes that covered every horizontal surface, including the table. They started keeping their unread newspapers in there, and the only reason they entered the room was to deposit or remove piles of newspapers. They ate in the kitchen, and never had guests over for a meal.
To me, the energy in that room was horrible. They kept the drapes closed, so it was always dark - even in the middle of the day. Jammed with furniture (two hutches, one cedar chest, table and chairs, and two occasional tables in a room 10'x13') and objects they never bothered to enjoy, it became a room full of obligation: We need to keep this stuff because it's ours and it's "beautiful," and it's what "belongs" in this room.
In the basement, the husband kept a huge number of houseplants under grow lights. His plants and his outdoor garden were his life's joy, and you could see that he lovingly tended these living things every day. Many of the houseplants were African violets, and he had several different colours: pink, purple, white, blue...
Going into their basement was a thrill for me. The flowers were gorgeous, and the man's love and care permeated the space like a exquisite scent.
Now here's a revolutionary thought: What if they kept the flowers and the grow lights in the dining room, and relegated the dining room stuff to the basement (or better still, got rid of it!)? They would have natural beauty close at hand every day. The husband wouldn't have to climb up and down the stairs so often on his bum knees. His hobby would be elevated and respected for the art it truly was.
But no. Dining rooms aren't greenhouses. What if he got dirt on the carpet?
(What if they got rid of the carpet - a tatty, 40-year-old eyesore - instead?)
Don't become a slave to your rooms. Don't become a slave to public opinion. If you love violets, let those violets really bless your home.
I live in a bachelor apartment. When the super's wife first showed me the suite, she gushed about how wonderful it could look with the right furniture. A bed could go on this wall, hidden by a nice screen. This spot by the window would look great with a cute area rug and a loveseat.
I smiled and murmured polite "mmm-hmm"s. She's a dear woman, and she couldn't have known that the 700-square-foot room was going to have to be bedroom, sitting room, library, home office, work room and art/music studio all rolled into one.
Oh, and dining room. :)
Enliven your rooms with your passions. I know of no other fulfilling way to live...
copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow