Well-Being//

Making Room For A New Life By Giving Up The Old

How interior design can help us begin again.


After decades of being an interior designer with a penchant for casual elegance, clean lines and zen-like peaceful surroundings, I have had to let go of my own hip home furnishings in favor of making room for a new life. The task at hand was to lighten up, let go and become more mobile, in search of discovering what is really important. I had collected all of this stuff, holding onto it for decades, dragging it around from place to place. As a stay-put kind of person, residing in one place for over almost two decades, then another place for a decade, all of a sudden, I found myself moving around. I know that sometimes we have our own inner GPS that may guide us to give up our comfort zone in favor of taking a quantum leap into a new life. When we are too complacent, we may never make the necessary changes to catapult us onto a new trajectory. Suffice it to say that it is definitely not comfortable, but somehow it feels as if I am destined for a new life path.

For several years I have encouraged my clients to make their home a haven in a hectic world. By utilizing all of the senses, from choosing calming colors, sensual fabrics, fragrant florals, adding water features and other natural elements. Most important of all can be de-cluttering their outsides so that they could shed their inner clutter. Sometimes we work from the outside-in, and other times we work from the inside-out. In order to experience more freedom, lightening up your home environment can also help you feel like you’ve shed several pounds of unwanted ‘fat’. Unloading the stuff that keeps you feeling weighted down can be a profound experience.

A new definition of luxury is free time and empty space

Doing nothing is a luxury most of us do not feel we can afford. I recently read a posting on facebook that said-Doing Nothing is Still Doing Something. Chauffeuring our kids, taking elderly parents to the doctor, a full day of work at the office or even at home, we like keeping order in our lives. Routine gestures of being busy keep us on track. Busy-ness is now the buzz word that makes many of us feel ‘important’. Like The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, crawling through rush hour gridlock on the 405 (San Diego Freeway) or cruising up Pacific Coast Highway, bumper to bumper in the mid-summer traffic, we find ourselves chanting that famous Alice in Wonderland line,

“I’m Late, I’m Late! For a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!”

What is so important that we have to rush, now that we are all connected 24/7? From talking on the cell phone, texting, Skype-ing or even in person, there’s no room for escape. Yet in these days of downsizing and rising home prices, the rentals in Los Angeles have skyrocketed. Boomers are getting out of ‘Dodge’ and the buzz around town is that everyone I know is wanting to move away from the hustle and hum of the big city life. Now the old ‘laid back’ LA lifestyle has become an urban myth. Life in the City of Angels is stressful! The allure of the year round Mediterranean climate and blooming fuchsia bougainvillea blossoms, doesn’t soothe us since this city has expanded into a bustling metropolis.

According to a Forbes article, America’s Most Stressful Cities, Las Vegas was found to be the most stressful city in the country, followed by Los Angeles, California., and Houston, Texas.

Here’s the shocker for my fellow Los Angeles boomers-

“it has among the lowest scores for the well-being of its residents-22.8 percent of Angelinos reported that their health was less than good. Physical and mental health are closely intertwined, and it’s hard to keep from stressing out when one’s body is failing.”

The remedy for this is to take time to breathe deeply, become mindful of stressful situations and meditate to lower anxiety levels from escalating. Rising food prices, residential rentals, exorbitant gas and air conditioning bills, and even home goods, such as everyday lifestyle items are making it difficult to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for the 99 percenters. Yet many of us are seeking to live a more simple life. It’s time for the exodus of the older generation to move out of the city and do a life makeover. Perhaps starting over with a move to a more peaceful town on the outskirts of the city, such as a suburban, rural environment is just what the doctor ordered? Maybe some are even moving to another state, like Arizona, Colorado or retiring to a planned resort-like community.

When moving, it is refreshing to let go of the old furnishings, clean out our closets and become free of the stuff that has surrounded us for decades. Buying new furniture for a new place and starting over, can be uplifting and inspiring. Many have become attached to the nostalgic heirlooms of their family treasures, unable to part with the past. But sometimes holding on to stuff just for sentimental value can bring us down. Dragging your great grandma’s breakfront from place to place while holding onto the tchotchkes, trinkets and displaying them, we find we may never look at them anymore. When something does not give us pleasure any more, but we still hold onto it, it takes away our energy. We are becoming aware that if it does not feel great, uplift or inspire us, we need to let it go. Giving it away to other family members, selling it or donating it to a charity can be an invigorating task.

The fun part of all of this is creating a new nest, in a new location and learning about the new area. My favorite is helping my clients choose a new look, a new decor and furnishings to match their new attitude. Some have spent their lives in a Mediterranean style or mid-century modern home and are now choosing town homes in country club settings. Others have had dark, heavy, oversized sofas and chairs and now seeking light, contemporary styles with the focal point of the entertainment center. Most are definitely looking for an easy way to incorporate the newness and have their new styles blend in with their favorite oldies but goodies. In the past, furnishing a home took weeks and months to find the right pieces and accessories. When downsizing and starting over, most prefer to go to a total-concept store that has it all. Many just end up going to the one-stop shopping and putting the whole place together in one day! The most important is to choose a showroom that has the best quality for the best value as well as service. The best part is when you finally make the changes, letting go and settling into the new home environment. Sometimes you may even wonder why it took so long to start your new life, since home is where the heart is!

Originally published at medium.com

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