I just finished a fun new book by Paige Rien, a designer and author who also works with HGTV shows about home improvement. She has lots of personal experience and has pulled it all together in “Love the House You’re In: 40 Ways to Improve your Home and Change your Life”.
I especially like her term curate, as a way to describe the process of assembling an environment that will nourish and support its inhabitants. My Oxford English Dictionary says that to curate is to select, organize and look after items. Bingo – this is how I think and feel about the home I live in and enjoy.
Her first chapter also hits another nail on the head, and is titled Start by Stopping. The point is that one important way to start changing your situation is to take stock of where you are, and who you are – first. Rien comes right out and advises you to put away your credit cards, stop asking everyone else for solutions, and take a break from all your magazines and internet idea resources. Wow!
The best answers come from your own inner experience and, as last month’s newsletter discussed, your history and degree of self-awareness.
But beyond that crucial exploration Love the House You’re In includes practical advice about understanding the place you live as a structure, and the relative difficulty or ease of typical remodeling projects. Room by Room Basics explains how to analyze each space, and how you use them. The sections on children’s rooms includes one called Teenage Wasteland? Need I say more, the woman understands.
As for specific skills, Rien addresses one that I have always had a hard time explaining; how do you make decisions about color? I love that she concludes with the advice that you can always re-paint! My own home required several re-starts when I picked the wrong blue, like three times. I encounter many people who are frightened into inaction by thought that they might not get it right the first time. Be bold!
Here is what my husband and I do: get a small quart sample and paint a 1′ square, be sure you do TWO coats, and put it where you can see how the changing daylight affects the color. If it’s not right, try again!
There are sections about lighting and window treatments that should be a handy tool for anyone struggling to figure out how to make significant improvements without breaking the bank.
Every chapter has exercises, visualizations or questions to help refine your vision of what is possible. Many are similar to those I have used in classes and coaching over the years – clearing away decorations and letting the space be empty for a while, setting aside places for mail processing, creating bedside tables that support both rest and your ability to start each day…
If you’re looking for some inspiration this month, this is one great place to go.