An Empowering New Way to Think About Your Home

Posted by: Gail VanKleeck  |  Date: 01/30/2014

An Empowering New Way to Think About Your Home

The best plan for creating a comfortable, welcoming, uniquely personal home begins in a place that lies deep in your heart.

This place has nothing to do with your home’s eventual appearance.  It is related to your memories, your values and dreams and to the parts of life that extend far beyond your ability to measure or see. 

Basing your color, lighting and furniture decisions on how you want your home to LOOK can limit your choices to what you already know about interior design.….. Basing your decorating decisions on how you would like your home to FEEL can empower you to think outside-the-box and to explore choices and alternatives you may never before have imagined.

When I began my decorating career I had great admiration for the truly talented designers whose recognizable style or look drew people to them.  But I knew in my heart that I wasn’t like them.  I dreamed of helping people create comfortable, welcoming homes that celebrated their uniqueness, enhanced their feeling of personal happiness and looked and felt more like them. And yet I had not yet learned to ask my clients the kind of questions that would help them turn their house into a home.  Instead I asked them what styles they liked and how they wanted their home to LOOK.

Unfortunately, my clients didn’t always know what style they liked and they were even less clear about how they wanted their homes to LOOK.  That meant we often began their decorating journey by looking through the pages of decorating magazines together, hoping to see something that would inspire them.

But instead of being inspired, many of my clients seemed anxious, overwhelmed and sometimes even sad.  They told me they couldn’t afford the furnishings in those beautifully photographed rooms, that their home didn’t have the right architecture for the pieces they admired, or that their husbands or significant others would probably hate the style of the furniture or the color of the walls in those photographed rooms. 

It was hard for them to imagine themselves living in surroundings that seemed to have been designed for people with very different budgetary concerns.  They also wondered aloud about the people for whom those rooms had been created and if they had children, dogs and cats or hand-me-down furniture that had once belonged to someone they loved.

I wish I could tell you that I had intentionally set out to discover the secret of basing your decorating decisions on the way you would like your home to FEEL, but that wouldn’t be true.  I actually stumbled upon it when I was working with a couple who clearly cared about one another, yet had a very different inner picture of how they wanted their home to LOOK. 

As I watched them struggling to compromise, I began to see that neither of them was completely happy ….and it occurred to me that while the compromise between black and white is limited to gray, the alternatives to black or white could be as limitless as the colors in a rainbow.

I don’t know why, but I heard myself asking each of them how they wanted their home to FEEL…and when I asked that question they stopped thinking about compromises and began building bridges and finding alternatives.  It was really wonderful!

What I discovered on that day so long ago is that the way we would like our home to FEEL isn’t arbitrary.  It is based on our memories, and on our life experiences as well as our dreams.  And when we understand that, we stop blaming each other for being pig headed and begin to look for ways we can honor what is truly important to ourselves as well as to the one we love.


And does thinking first about how you would like your home to FEEL guarantee that your home will be a perfect showcase?  Probably not … but it does empower you and the ones you love to create a home that honors your shared values, supports your differences and enriches your relationship.   And there is something very special to be said about that!

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