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Dorothy said it best–there’s no place like home. It’s the place where you seek sanctuary from the rest of the world. It’s the place where your family spends time together. It’s the place where you feel most comfortable and relaxed. It’s the place you live your life.
But when it’s cluttered and full of stuff, it’s hard to think of your house as a restful dwelling. Instead, it feels chaotic and stressful. Piles of paperwork, items to sort, and things to clean up become constant reminders of all the things we need to face and take care of. It can be truly overwhelming.
But it doesn’t have to be.
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You can take back your space and turn your house into the home you want. You can create a welcoming space that is a reflection of who you are, one that encompasses your own family values and preferences, and is filled only with the things that give you joy and fulfill your needs.
Look around your home. What feelings does it evoke? Do you feel calm and at peace as you look around? Are the personalities and talents of your family members reflected and celebrated? Does your home emulate your relationship with God and those you love? Does it feel like a place of safety and comfort?
When it comes to your home, there are a number of questions you can walk through to guide you toward creating the space you want. We go into this topic in depth in my new book Unstuffed, but I’d like to share some of these questions with you here today, so you can get a jumpstart on the process…
How Do You Use Your Space?
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you probably already know that I just love to entertain. I love throwing creative themed parties, but I also I like hosting a simple get-together with just a few close friends. I enjoy the buzz of a family dinner when everyone is contributing and discussing the ins and outs of their day. For me this means that my home needs to have space for hosting–an extendable table that easily seats 12, and lots of space to sit down.
And while we do love to entertain, we are also a family of readers. While a huge library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a ladder isn’t exactly realistic with our current space and layout, we do have a small library area and a reading corner where we can enjoy all our books.
For other families, a dedicated space for reading might not be important, but a space for sewing or crafting could be, or they might just want a nice place to relax and watch movies. Perhaps they use the space for inspiration to create art or music. Perhaps their home is reflective of their children’s talents.
If you’re a chef or an avid baker, then a house with a well-stocked kitchen might make you feel right at home. If your family loves movie night, then having your DVDs on display and your comfiest couch in your living room probably makes sense.
Reflect on how you use your space now and what you really value about your home’s layout and arrangement. What activities are most important to you and your family? Does your home reflect this? If not, what changes could you make right now to get it so that it does?
What is the Role of Your Home?
Some of us see our homes as a hub—a place we gather to do all kinds of different activities. If you work from home, you might also see your home as an office. If you teach school at home, your home is a place of education and learning as well.
Understanding the role of our home gives us a clear picture of how our home can meet the needs of our family. Do your children need a quiet desk where they can do their homework or do they prefer to work from the library? Do you do crafts at home? Is your home a workshop or studio as well? Is your home a gym or do you exercise outside? Think of the many roles your home can play and the overall role as well. For some, we sleep, shower, dress and eat at home, then spend much of our day away. Others of us spend nearly all our time within the walls of our house.
How Does Your Home Make You Feel?
Do you feel proud of your home when people stop by? Does your home make you feel safe, cozy and calm? Is your home disorganized and chaotic, adding to your stress? Is your home fun and reflective of your family values, your talents, and your memories?
Really assess both the current feelings you get from your home and what you think your home should feel like. When people walk in, do you want them to feel calm, reverent, or formal? When you walk in, how do you want to feel?
How Does Your Home Serve Your Emotional & Spiritual Needs?
Does your home help you feel calm and centered? Often, when our homes are full of stuff, disorganized and messy, we’re actually trying to fill a void or we’re buying items in the hopes they’ll make us feel better. In reality, it’s time to examine our emotional and spiritual state to reflect on where our needs are not being met. When you feel emotionally and spiritually fulfilled, you will no longer feel the need to clutter your life with excess, and to hold onto connections with items, rather than connections with people.
When You Decide to Begin Rearranging Your Space…
When you’re reorganizing and uncluttering your home, you’ll probably need to do some rearranging and redecorating. As you work on the layout of your rooms, think about the purpose of each room, and the job of each and every item within each room.
There’s a famous rule by William Morris that advises the following: Have nothing in your houses that you don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Generally speaking, this rule should apply to almost every item in our homes. Because here’s the thing–we often decorate our homes based on how we THINK we should use our homes, rather than how we actually use them. Give yourself permission to be realistic.
While you may envision grand and formal layouts, with furniture and décor you’ve always dreamed about the reality is that if you have children and pets and a busy schedule, a formal décor may not serve you. Arranging rooms so they’re comfortable and functional is key to transforming your house into the best home possible for you and your family.
It can sound unattainable or difficult, but when you reflect on the true value of your family, your friends, and those who bring you spiritual and emotional nourishment, you realize it’s the people in your life that really matter. It’s not about having the most perfect home or a home that’s full of designer furniture, toys, clothes and “stuff.”
Start small when you declutter and repurpose your space. As you work to unstuff your life, work a little at a time, breaking off small pieces that you can tackle in a day or two. Build on these victories and organize a little more as you go. When you understand each room’s purpose and its role in your home, you can work toward a home that reflects the needs of you and your family.