Posts belonging to Category Gaining Clarity


I’ve been cleaning up around here lately.                                                       

Not Spring cleaning, exactly, but more along the lines of an Office overhaul and  remodel.

Out went the old credenza and hutch. In their place – built-in bookshelves, cabinets and drawers with more storage than I’d dreamed of.

Everything is neat and organized and clutter-free.

I am basking in this new space.

Cleaning up my office has even had a domino effect in that some of the old shelving ended up in a downstairs closet.

Previously, this particular walk-in storage closet was so filled with stuff one could barely step inside without tripping over things.

It is now spic and span with a place for everything and everything in its place. I can hardly believe the transformation.

As a result, I’m a whole new me.

While immersed in overhauling and re-organizing, I happened to take a couple of assessment tests on-line, things like the well-known Myers-Briggs. Plus another one that was new to me yet equally appealing in that it focuses on ones Strengths – hence the name Strengths Finders.



“How you spend your days is how you live your Life.”  Annie Dillard

I read a passage the other day, that describes the many things (translate that to ‘stuff’) we use to decorate our homes.

It went on to explain how these things, when properly combined, are exactly what create the feelings of home we all yearn for – comfort, love and security.

Some of us are sophisticated in our approach, others more laid back or minimalist.

Yet one thing is certain – designing our homes gives us permission to tap into our creativity – and our personal design style.

Maybe you’re wondering “What does that even mean?”

When it comes to furnishing your home, your ‘Design Style’ refers to your overall tastes in design.

In fact, your ‘design style’ is probably not all that different from your ‘fashion sense’, or how your tastes run, in general.

It’s really that straight-forward.

Try this for yourself. Simply explore your own closet and see what jumps out at you. Most likely you will gravitate toward your favorite color accents and the things you most like to wear.

Translate this to your furnishings and see what you get. Are you traditional or modern? Perhaps you prefer shabby chic?

Do you typically dress in layers?

Those same ‘layers’ often apply to our homes, as we play with throw pillows and accessories, switching things out as our moods or the seasons, suggest.

Compare this to the accessories you wear, and switch out on a daily basis – a belt, or scarf, or even jewelry – it’s essentially the same thing.

With greater awareness of your surroundings, and your personal preferences, you will see that there is a strong connection between your house, and what your life is like.

Understanding your tastes, and your design style, adds meaning to the many things we use to furnish our homes.

The things that, when properly combined, are exactly what create the feelings of home we all yearn for.


The ancient Chinese revered their ancestors.                                            

Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in the ancient Chinese bronze vessels used for sacrifice.

These priceless objects were part of an elaborate ritual ceremony to commemorate the deceased, based in part, on the belief that one’s’ ancestors would continue to watch over you from the afterlife.

As long as you kept them happy, that is.

In those days, Bronze was an expensive metal, not easily obtained. It was reserved for use by the elite members of the aristocracy and upper class citizens – those that could afford to honor their ancestors properly.

Thus, by offering food and wine in these intricately carved bronze bowls and ewers, honor was maintained.

In our Western culture, we have a different set of customs that dictate how we honor our loved ones, and we do this primarily through family heirlooms and treasured keepsakes.

A common practice is to cherish an object that we know was previously loved by the deceased – such as an antique chair, a decorative object or other works of art.

It’s as if our loved ones live on in these keepsakes, and so, for sentimental reasons, we continue to keep them in our homes and our hearts.

However, at some point, we may need to ask ourselves whether these family treasures are still fulfilling their original purpose.

Do you truly love those keepsakes that you’ve treasured for so long? Are they inherently beautiful?

Or, is your devotion due to sentimental reasons only?



On the heels of a recent post titled “Designing Not So Big”, I came across this headline while browsing through a magazine:

‘THINK BIG’                                                                                                    

My first thought was – “Oh no” – they’ve taken a similar message & have turned it around to say the exact opposite.

But then I read the smaller print, which said:



I didn’t need to read any further.

You see, I’d already come up with my own reasons why ‘Thinking Small’ can help you to ‘Live Large’.

Here they are:

1 – Smaller homes are more affordable and require less of everything.

Less maintenance. Less expense.

Need to paint the house top to bottom, or replace the carpet?  What about replacing the windows, in lieu of more energy efficient options?

Less square footage also means lower utility bills. You will even need less furniture!

And because you will need LESS of everything, you can spend MORE on higher quality, and still come out ahead.

Meaning you won’t have to break the budget to achieve an amazing result!



Your home is like a 3-dimensional self-portrait.  

It says volumes about who you are.

Not to mention how you live.

I work with clients all the time who have a clear sense of what they’d like their homes to look like. (They’re just not sure how to put it all together).

Yet, it’s quite another thing to know how you want your home to feel.

It’s an elusive quality, hard to define.

On one level, this is likely because what works for one person, might be meaningless to another.

On another level, it’s because knowing how you want your home to feel means tuning in to your deepest desires and understanding what makes you feel whole.

What you want you to home look like, is based almost entirely on your sense of vision.

You might focus on your favorite colors, a certain fabric, or a particular style of sofa.

If you’re selecting new appliances, your choices are based on a combination of appearance and function.

Cost figures in too! (In the end, we always need to think about dollar signs).

However, let’s focus for a moment, on how you’d like your home to feel.



“Ambivalence – is the liminal point between the problem and the solution.”                             

It’s that point of uncertainty, when you’re not sure what to do next and perhaps terrified of making a mistake.

Let’s say you’ve been thinking about a kitchen remodel, or are toying with the idea of re-decorating your home.

Let’s also say you’re feeling overwhelmed by the details and not sure where to even begin.

Could be you’re stalling.

A few days ago, I was talking to a couple of friends, both interior designers. The one friend is planning to remodel her townhouse and is brimming with new ideas.

She’s a designer, after all.

Still, she’s not sure where to begin. She’s stalling for time.



“Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or beautiful” William Morris

Any object that is beautifully made – be it furniture or something more utilitarian – is a joy to behold and a pleasure to use.  

Furthermore, anything that is a pleasure to own will likely remain in your possession indefinitely.  Which, according to author Sarah Susanka, is another way of saying that an object of beauty is ultimately sustainable!

Case in point:

A few weeks ago I decided I needed an apple corer – one of those kitchen gadgets that slices and cores an apple in one fell swoop.

I spotted a sturdy little number in passing, at the grocery store, and bought it on the spot.

The first time I used it, it got stuck in the apple. I mean really stuck!

When I tried to remove it, the darn thing fell apart completely.  My husband spent the next half hour trying to put it back together. Needless to say, that one was taken back to the store where I bought it.

A few days later, I stopped in a gourmet kitchen shop and purchased another apple corer.

This time around, it sliced the apple quickly and perfectly, and I was absolutely delighted.

In fact, it was so much fun I could hardly wait to use it again!

Do you see the difference?



For several years now, I’ve been observing the similarities between food and design.                               

If that seems like too much of a stretch, I invite you to think again.

This past summer, I wrote a post called “Do You Follow the Recipe?”, where I attempted to draw a parallel between doing things by the book, or taking a more spontaneous approach whether preparing a meal or designing a home.

It turns out there’s more than one way to look at this. (Isn’t there always?)

I’ve since come across a website called Slow Home.

You’ve heard of the Slow Food movement? Well, this is essentially the same thing, except that it applies to home design instead.

I love their philosophy.

I love how they’ve made that connection between food and design, between our fast-paced, fast food lifestyle and the need to just slow down and enjoy the comfort of our well-designed homes.

This seems especially poignant at this time of year, with the holidays upon us, along with our lengthy to-do lists. We feel so pressured to shop for gifts, to cook and bake, to decorate and entertain, that on a certain level we lose a good deal of the joy that the holiday is meant to inspire.

But that’s just part of it.

If your home isn’t inviting – even to you – then you might be feeling a bit short-changed on the inspiration front.

John Brown, co-owner of the Slow Home site, likens this to all the separate ingredients that make up a pot of chicken soup – the vegetables, the broth, and of course, the chicken.

Simmered together on the stove, these separate ingredients suddenly become much more than the sum of their parts.

Our homes work the same way.

Yes, you can toss your furnishings into a room with little thought, and call it done. But where is the comfort, the inspiration, the part that speaks to your soul?

Where is the love?


“Do not keep anything in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  William Morris

Do you ever feel like you’re a bit behind the times?

I certainly do.

Just by chance, I came across a Facebook posting from life coach Martha Beck, featuring IKEA’s “Life Improvement Project”.

This was the first I’d heard of the Life Improvement Project, and I was beyond impressed, especially since their focus is on building a better Life and Community through good design and responsible environmental choices.

It’s always encouraging to learn of others who share your philosophy. I’m now adding IKEA to my list, along with proponents of The Not So Big House and the Slow Home Movement.

What we refer to as the Butterfly Effect is essentially a ‘ripple’ effect – the idea that every action, no matter how small, can make a difference.



I was lounging by the pool in Hawaii,  thumbing through a magazine, when I came across an article that explored how we express ourselves through fashion.

The basic premise was that our personalities clearly come through in the way we dress, which is very true.

One could take this a step further and apply the same concept to how we furnish our homes, since there is a strong connection between the two.

In fact, I’ve heard interior designers say that they always take a look inside their clients’ closets, just to see how they express themselves in terms of color and fashion.

The idea is that this simple act can tell the designer a lot about their clients’ personality.

While I agree with this in principle, I also think that our wardrobes are just a small part of who we are.

For example, if you were to look in my closet you would see a lot of basic black. However, this in no way means that I would like my home furnished in black with black paint on the walls.

No way.