It’s official! We are SO not alone in the quest to define the new normal.” Since we’ve added the new video viewer mail feature, our private mailboxes are flooded. Interestingly enough, there are as many comments, reflections and unbelievably thoughtful and personal stories as there are actual design question. Although, to be clear there is an avalanche of those too!
Suddenly, as COVID has forced us to take stock. We’re ALL beginning to realize that our homes are not serving us like they used to.
Well, why should they?
I mean, just think of where you were and who you were when you first chose the things you’ve surrounded yourself with.
What were your original goals then? When you last designed your living space what did the world look like then? When you bought that sofa, chose (or didn’t choose) that wall color, that bed frame, those drapes…what was the intent then?
If that thought immediately makes you feel like you’re looking at your high school yearbook photo wondering, “Good God, what WAS I thinking,” then you’re right where about 58% of most folks are right now, and almost 100% of our subscribers.
See, the truth is, most average American households only get a chance to completely re-design a new living space from scratch maybe twice in their entire lifetimes.
Usually, the first one doesn’t even count. After all, you probably were taking anything you could get your hands on (or afford) with the idea that you’d someday “upgrade.” You know, when you finally settled in, had a bit more income, got past the child destruction years, and were finally in the position to start “living the dream?!” Right?
Surprise! That probably didn’t happen either? But that probably didn’t prevent you from dragging more stuff in under your roof thinking: “It’s just an experiment. I’ll try this for a while and see if I like it. I’ll live with it then if I love it, I’ll really commit and do the whole place the way I REALLY want it.”
Let’s just say, that if we paid more attention to how we live versus how we dress our homes wouldn’t look as tie-dyed and bellbottomed as they do.
Now, after a year of seclusion and having all those past choices shoved in your face, it seems impossible to know where to start anew so things are kinda staying the same?
You know, maybe that’s not such a bad idea? GASP!
No seriously. Maybe a few months of just trying to really (actively) take stock before we re-stock, could be the most productive thing one could ever do. And the timing couldn't better.
After all, with the words “New Normal” now part of our vocabulary, what more proof do you need that things have changed… you have changed and now…everything’s changed?
Your volume of letters are not only confirmation of that, but acknowledgment that we’re on the right track as you're helping us tailor our content (just like they (you) did for us on TV). We read everything and are amazed at the candor, directness and even the inventiveness that is starting to emerge as those creativity sparks are starting to fly.
In fact, I got a great letter from a gal who had read my 7 Layers of Purging a month after COVID hit. She accounted that during isolation, she got insanely bored and stir crazy. So, she bought herself a box of big bright red, peel-and-stick dots, and spent the next 3 months, affixing them to objects that were:
Never used in the past year.
No longer suited her taste.
Were damaged but would honestly never be repaired.
Held on to only out of sentimental guilt.
Remained, strictly out of laziness.
Only existed because they were “perfectly good.” Meaning: they were great for someone else, just not her, anymore.
It was emotionally aggressive and yet physically passive all at the same time. It took no real physical effort to slap a sticker on something and yet, she was indeed making the best kind of progress. CLARITY!
Soon, much to her surprise and shock, all she could see was a sea of red dots that told an alarming truth. Over 68% of what she owned, no longer fit the lifestyle she wanted or needed. Yet, she was financially paying for the square footage they collectively took up AND, for the past two years, she’d been contemplating getting an even bigger place!
What was so smart, was that she used those red dots to emotionally ramp up -–to make the hardest decisions first. In the act of intentional thinking and tagging, the image of the life she really wanted, began to slowly emerge. So, before impulsively purging or purchasing anything new, she focused on the “why” not the “what.”
That’s what intentional living is all about.
When her tiny place finally started looking like an breakout of measles, she was finally ready to call a consignment shop.
She told the man who came to the front door, to “just take everything with an red dot on it. Meanwhile I’ll be out in the back yard in case you had questions.” (That way, she wouldn’t be tempted to take back what had already been fully vetted).
Within the hour she walked back into a place she almost didn’t recognize. One that now looked twice its size. Only then could the process of reinventing begin. Only then was there more room to dream again. Besides, nothing says “possibilities” like blank space.
Luckily, she’d already gotten out in the marketplace and online to get an idea of what things cost now. Seriously, that’s an eyeopener if you haven’t walked the home furnishing aisles in a while.
This sourcing also included thrift and consignment shore (outlined on our Personal Curating Page). As she said, “Christopher, if you can shop there and not be a snob about it, then I can too.” LOL.
She discovered that much of what she was interested in actually cost less today than she originally paid for what she once owned. Plus, there were items out there today, that she’d never thought of or didn’t even exist back when she first feathered her next.
Between, the money she’d make in consignment, the bargains she now knew existed in non-traditional stores and armed with a new cost-affective
vision, she discovered that she could easily afford her new lifestyle even if it was a just a few pieces at a time. At least there was a plan now.
At first, she almost made the same mistakes all over again. “Oh, a table used to be there. I’ll just replace it with another, better one.” “Oh, I need a nicer lamp to replace where the old one was.” In short, she was in danger of inadvertently duplicating the same antiquated lifestyle she’d just gotten rid of.
So, instead, she started moving the leftover furniture around. Smart!
Moving things around (and from room to room) instantly changes the whole dynamic and energy of any space. You’ll discover that the same objects you got used to, now looks completely different within a new context. It's a real visual pallet cleanser and quite exciting.
While she was doing that, she was engaging, reconnecting and reactivating her innate personal creativity without even knowing it. Suddenly a new vision was beginning to take shape before she even spent a dime.
As she pushed, dragged and shoved, she made notes. Her imagination kicked in and suddenly for the first time, how she really wanted to live was becoming self-evident.
That, coupled with the fact that she (like us all) had been living more for “ghost guests”, “family and “company” that rarely visited, finally allowed her to cast aside old traditions that no longer applied. Plus, it would greatly influence how she’d reallocate space and the general tone. It quickly went from being “public” to being “private” and then, personal… VERY personal.
She spent the next few days, pen and paper in hand, asking herself:
What do I really need space for NOW?
What are my new interests NOW?
How would I NOW re-design this space if no one but me ever stepped foot in it?
As the vision got clearer, with the help of my purging guide, she did a behavioral deep dive into things like:
How much do I really cook?
How many outfits do I really wear?
How many beauty products do I really need to feel like I look good?
This of course freed up even more critical hidden storage.
Now there was room to put a crafting station into a closet that was once crammed with outfits that she’d never wear again.
Now the (less aesthetic) things that she used consistently, were organized so she wasn’t rummaging through stuff she never used to get to the stuff she needed daily.
The back hall that she never used for anything but junk, now became her new reading nook because from there, she discovered, she could see the best view in the house. She’d add a little writing desk and a place for a laptop with a comfortable upholstered chair. When she could afford it, she’d take out the existing window and replace it with a greenhouse style bay where she could grow herbs year around and cultivate seedlings for the summer garden.
Well, the ideas flowed one after the other.
That’s the thing with creativity, once you drop your fear, cut it loose and give yourself permission to live like you really mean it, hope does indeed, spring eternal!
To think that it all started with a package of red dots!
So, the upshot here, is that there are many ways to begin reinventing one's lifestyle. If we can only take how we live as seriously as how we “earn” the money to live on, anything is possible!
Small spaces can become indulgent, pampering jewel boxes that we can’t wait to get home to.
Just remember, a room in an expensive hotel costs $300 a night but it seems worth it if it’s deliciously well-appointed. Right? Well, why rent it for one night, when you already have a “suite” of rooms that you can own in luxury all the time...at a fourth of the price? Duh?
Action overcomes fear. With fear gone, creativity comes out to play. With creativity comes clarity and then comes the problem-solving act of being cleaver.
Especially now, we can finally allow ourselves to think outside the old lifestyle box and cherry out every inch of the place we call home so it's completely custom to us.
In the end, it’s never about public opinion from people who will never step foot in your home. It’s about your private intent when creating an environment that hugs your heart in a more personal, meaningful way.
It’s finally time to get rid of the life we thought we wanted, in order to make room for the life we didn’t think we’d get.
I’ve said it a million times:
It’s not about money or square feet. It’s about having the courage to find the clarity to intentionally surround yourself with things that now tell your story and reflect how you REALLY want to live…accurately.
You can do it!
Bye for now,
For an overview of the purging process step-by -step go here.
For my rundown of non-traditional shopping outlets, go here.
For pre-coordinated room recipes go here.
For a little bit of jewel box inspiration go here.