When you think about it, your home plays some pretty big roles in your life. It supports and enables almost everything you do such as preparing healthy meals, working from home, working on your most important relationships, getting a good night’s sleep, tending to your appearance and wardrobe, pursuing hobbies and much, much more.
Image Via Doug Atherly
How your home feels and works is often times more important than how it looks. If everyday life around the home doesn’t feel right, if maintaining your home is a challenge, if you’re not able to be highly effective while there, if finding things is next to impossible, if putting things away is like running a gauntlet it’s definitely time to do some work.
I’ve been an interior designer for many years and of course how my home looks is very important to my clients and me. But more important than how your home looks is how it feels to you, how it functions, how it supports, rejuvenates and inspires you. If your home isn’t supporting the many facets of your life, and if you find planning a home overwhelming just thinking about it, maybe it’s time to take action before you're completely burned out, rather than after! Here are some design concepts that will help simplify things for you. If you fail to plan, plan to fail right? That’s a huge concept in my own life and nowhere is it more evident than in the potentially snowballing “mess” of our own home! Hang with me here. I’m going to make this easy for you.
Image Via House of Pictures
#1- Planning your home via one main concept such as Art and Design, Wellness, Travel or A Large Family.
Think about your values or the things you stand for. What are the one to three things that are stand outs to you and the people living with you? Do you value design, art and fine music above all else? Or are travel and the memories and mementos collected while traveling a bigger priority? Or are wellness, eating right and exercising your top priorities? Or do you have a large family with high needs for organization?
Each of these scenarios creates different priorities in the home and require planning. Your lifestyle should always be addressed before decorative decisions are made. Surprisingly, each of the above mentioned scenarios will play a small role in the home’s overall aesthetic.
For an art lover, wall space and often times floor space is highly valued for displaying art and for areas to view and appreciate them. Less pattern on the furniture and floors. More emphasis on each individual piece of art. White walls. Ebony hardwood floors. Modern furniture.
For a large family, kid friendly surfaces such as patterned flooring and fabrics; washable paint finishes; and large, sturdy and comfy furniture.
Can you see how this could work for you? What would your one main concept be? What do you value? Be careful designing your entire home around hobbies. Hobbies come and go and usually, they’re only valued by one person in the home! So if you love dolls and if you have other people living in the home with you, planning your home around your doll collection is not fair to the other household members! Just as planning a home around golf would be unfair too. For hobbies, see the next concept on planning your home in zones.
#2- Planning your home via activities or zones such as areas for Connecting, Rejuvenation, Work or Studying, Exercise, or Hobbies.
There is something so freeing about having to make fewer decisions, such as having a capsule wardrobe or following a workout dvd or having a recipe to follow. Less decisions equal less stress and that’s incredibly freeing in today’s world. What about having zones in your home designed around individual activities? Today’s homes are tricked out with media rooms, exercise and wellness rooms, home offices, hobby rooms and even recording studios! Having rooms serve one main activity or grouped activities saves time from collecting various equipment and props that must otherwise be stored elsewhere. It saves decision making about where the activity will take place and what you’ll need for it. It can even add more joy to the activity when the space is specifically designed around it.
The idea in these two first concepts is to make decision making easy for you. In interior design, there are hundreds if not thousands of decisions to make and worse yet, tens of thousands of choices! No wonder design is such a stressful industry. So the first thing we pro’s do is narrow the playing field by determining lifestyle, aesthetics, a color palate, scale, metals, wood finishes, things the client wants to keep and work around. All these things narrow down the amount of decisions we have to make.
#3- Planning your home around comfort, safety and convenience or design based on aging, disabilities or physical challenges.
The concept is not as simple but still, it does narrow down choices. For people who are infirm, who have growing disabilities or even small physical challenges, it adds up. This is called Universal Design and it’s an industry standard. This includes conveniences such as extra wide hallways and doors; one level living; rocker style light switches; lever doorknobs; lever style faucets; level flooring material changes from area to area; sufficient overhead task and ambient lighting; abundant natural light; home security features, et cetera. Extra attention is also devoted to the kitchen, appliances, counter heights, storage and more.
Here are some of the amenities in a well-designed home:
Abundant window space and beautiful views
Media rooms and great audio/video/security systems
Comfortable, well made furniture, particularly for seating and beds .
Art and quality accessories like rugs and lighting
Well stocked library
Well designed kitchens/equipment and “smart” appliances to make meal prep easier and more pleasant
Wine cellars (however, drinking in moderation and even abstaining altogether is a huge facet of a healthy lifestyle).
Adequate ventilation and air quality/air purifiers
Filtered water for bathing and drinking
Indoor plants and flowers to oxygenate and cleanse the air
A dysfunctional home affects everyone and every aspect of your life and most homes are dysfunctional to one degree or another. Like everything else in life, you get out of your home what you put into it.
And if you'd like to delve deeper into how your home can work for you, see my beautiful new website shireesegerstrom.com for some great design and wellness tools. There is a digital book, strategy sessions, a decorating course in the making (due out soon!) and even a freebie to get you started!
Live beautifully, eat beautifully.