This is a story about how Claire got her groove back.
And no, this story doesn’t involve some hunky younger guy sweeping her off her feet or some other fantastic thing that only happens in Hollywood movies. This is a story about how Claire transformed her home taking concrete, easy to replicate steps, launching her journey into the rest of her awesome life.
Most of us are pretty comfy in our homes, and even if we’re not completely happy with our décor, we live with it because it just seems like a huge amount of work to change it up.
Until we go through a life-changing event.
Sometimes these events are planned for, like moving for a job or bringing a new baby home. Other times, things happen that are out of our control, like the death of a family member or divorce.
And in these times of sudden transition, our homes, if we set them up right, can be our soft landing spot to help ease us into our new chapter.
Claire, my client, was leaving a marriage behind and looking forward to her new independence in a new home. Together we set out to create a home that would be all about who she was as a mama and a strong, successful woman, with a bright future ahead.
These are the six steps Claire took to make her house (and her life) groovy.
Step 1. As Frozen’s Princess Elsa famously belted out, let it go. Claire was sure she wanted to leave behind her old life, her married self. Not only did she leave behind her old relationship, but she also left behind her house and most of her furniture, and opened herself up to new possibilities. She bought a cute little bungalow in a new neighborhood and called me to help her with setting up her new nest.
Step 2. She next claimed her new house as her own. We first talked to find out what kind of a life she wanted in her new house. She dreamed of having a house that was clean and uncluttered, that helped her to relax after a long day, as well as to entertain guests for work.
Next, we identified some of the challenges of her new home. Although the house boasted 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, it was more cozy than spacious at 1200 square feet. Also, the previous owner had installed fixtures and knobs that didn’t suit the historic bungalow style.
First, we painted most of the interior white. The stark contrast of the gray beams and other architectural features made the whole space look cluttered. By painting everything white, with the walls in a flat finish and the beams in a semigloss finish, we eliminated visual clutter and made the space look bigger and more sophisticated.
Second, we changed out all the lighting fixtures. We got rid of the unsuitably modern ceiling fans and installed new fixtures that could work with a variety of styles, traditional and modern. Although the gold/bronze finishes are more traditional, their shapes are simple and clean. All lit up, they add warmth and bling to the space.
Step 3. Once the house was ready, we defined the functional zones and created a floor plan. The common area of the house is one large open space, partially subdivided by pillars and shelves.
The living room has just the one wall with a fireplace flanked by two windows. We planned to put a big rug and float a couch and two armchairs on the rug in front of the fireplace. We had the sofa face the front door so Claire could keep an eye on the entry while lounging.
We put another armchair in the front corner to make a comfy reading nook.
We created a dedicated dining area, with a table that can host an intimate dinner party or hold buffet platters when Claire entertains. It’s not a big space, so we decided on a round table that could comfortably seat four.
Step 4. Before we went shopping, we decided on a color scheme. Claire wanted to use an art piece she loves as a focal point, so we pulled out the colors from it – pinks, blues, and greens – as accent colors. (Pro tip: decide on your neutrals – whites, grays, beiges – then get your accent colors from furniture you already own or favorite accessories, including art.)
Step 5. With the color scheme and floor plan in hand, we went shopping. The color scheme helped us to focus our search on a few colors, and the floor plan further narrowed our search, letting us know exactly what we needed and how big they should be.
First, we went to the hotel surplus outlet, where we were able to buy 2 armchairs, a side table, dining table, 6 dining chairs, a dresser and night table, 2 lamps, and a large mirror, all for what a new sofa might cost retail. (Eek! So fun!)
Then we filled in the gaps with online orders. We first ordered an area rug for the living room that had all the colors we had talked about. This rug would pull together and connect all the different color strands of the space. We then ordered curtains and blinds that were gray and white to soften the space and provide light control.
Step 6. Finally, we accessorized. Claire was looking forward to having a clean space free of her ex’s clutter, so we picked our accessories with care.
We hung up the inspiration flower painting in the entry area, in a place of honor. We also hung a large mirror near the door, which helped to make the room look larger and brighter, and gave Claire a way to check her appearance on her way out. Because she doesn’t watch much TV, Claire switched out her old TV for one that displays art when the TV is turned off and placed it on the mantle. A few plants to enjoy the sun in the front part of the house, flowers here and there, and we were done!
Claire loves her new home so much she’s pinching herself.
I’m not meaning to suggest that Claire’s divorce was easy or pain-free. Every big change involves at least equal parts sadness and excitement. But moving into a new home that supports all that she wants to become in her next chapter helped to weigh the equation in favor of the latter.
So if you’re suddenly confronted with a new life situation, consider following these six steps and changing up on your home to better reflect the dreams and goals of your groovy future.