I found a really interesting study titled "Life At Home in the Twenty-First Century" (UCLA, 2012) and wanted to share the above image. It shows where family members were located in their home in 10-minute intervals over two weekend afternoons. As you can see, the kitchen is truly the control center of the house. There was also lots of activity in the family room with the TV, but almost no activity in the main living or outside areas. That's a lot of unused space! This is not surprising, considering that the average new single-family home has more than doubled since 1950, even though we now have an average of one less inhabitant (US Census). It's also not surprising that the number of items Americans possess has ballooned to fill these larger spaces. But there's hope!
If you see your own home in the above diagram and want to make better use of your rooms, try taking all the furniture out of the unused space and see what takes its place. Nature hates a vacuum. Maybe all that empty floor space will beckon and you'll find yourself in there with your yoga mat. Or maybe your husband will be thrilled to finally have a place for his train set, and seeing him happy will make you happy. Maybe the kids have always needed a place to play with their toys collectively, but you never knew it. It's your paradise, don't worry about what anyone else thinks, everyone has seen enough unused living rooms. It's time to switch things up! Let's turn our homes into the places we want to be, that look like all our dreams. (This last phrase comes from the book "The Big Orange Splot." A good read if you want to be encouraged to make inspired changes to your home but are worried that others will think you are crazy.)
How to infuse some quick spirituality into your home:
Step 1: Select a cabinet in your home, preferably one in your living room.
Step 2: Empty out all the contents (in this case, an entire record collection).
Step 3: Cobble some items from around the house that you enjoy, but don't need to use all the time. For instance, a scarf that might be a bit too short, some Christmas lights, a tea tray, a candle, a couple statues, and a seashell.
Step 4: Decorate the inside of the cabinet using shoeboxes in the corners to lift items, and voila! A central location for your spiritual practice that can be made private when company calls.
Right after we pulled this client's jewelry out of her drawers, closet, and boxes, she told me that she had owned her jewelry box since she was a little girl (impressive!) and it was time to let it go. This left us with nowhere to place her treasured items after we had tidied them. I suggested finding something that could stand in as a temporary jewelry tree, at least until she found something she really liked. We searched the house and found a tarnished tea service buried in her pantry. We both got really excited - she loved this tea service but didn't use it anymore, and after it was polished it would showcase her jewelry perfectly! Behold, the finished result. Now that the client can see her accessories every time she walks into her room, she says she wears and enjoys them far more often. Beloved tea service on display + unearthed jewelry = a big boost in joy!
Before we started, this wall contained a few scattered pictures but was otherwise blank. The room served as an office/storage area/2nd bedroom for over a decade and the client just couldn't get excited about it. Her passion could, however, be found elsewhere: in bags of travel clippings that she enjoyed collecting but never reviewed. I used my trades discount at the Container Store to purchase a bulletin board that could display things that inspire her, such as recipes, places she wants to visit, and photos. We also bought the above thumbtacks, which compliment her sense of adventure.
Although we weren't planning on decorating her whole wall, after we hung the board we figured "why not?" and started having fun putting her framed pictures around it, half of which had been in storage. The result left us both breathless. Now her past is beautifully surrounding her future, and beneath it all is a collection of toys for her grandchildren to play with. Talk about a happy wall!
A family of four asked me to help them create a home that "functioned more like a spacecraft," meaning streamlined and efficient with attractive details. Together we reduced their items to only those that give them joy, and transformed this home into a friendly place that highlights their interests without sacrificing function.
We did not break the bank in the process: the only new item that you see below is the red couch. Everything else, including the storage solutions, were already among their possessions.