BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON
In 2020, we learned to accommodate our changing lives in new ways. Somehow, packed closets became offices, formal dining rooms became classrooms, and lonely front porches reverted to their original purpose, serving as informal gateways to neighborly connection. A good friend of mine—in her 70’s!—jumped right in. Mandated to close her small retail shop for a few months, she transformed her small Victorian house into a pop-up showroom. Customers who had frequented her much-loved store arrived masked and by appointment to drink tea while they perused a curated sampling of her collection. Talk about rethinking things and making what you have work for you!
Necessity, the proverbial mother of invention, helped us to loosen up in 2020, to get creative, and to rethink how we use the space we define as home. But it didn’t stop there. Along the way, a very cool thing happened: we came to understand that “home” can be something we define and make work for the unique needs, pursuits, and interests of our own life—just as my friend did. This “lightbulb-on” notion goes way beyond color schemes and decorating style. Even the shelter magazines became more realistic and got on board by offering guidance and inspiration for reimagining, and then transforming, our homes into more livable, workable spaces. Thankfully, the pandemic will become a thing of the past, while the lessons we learned along the way will stand the test of time. Making your house, your space, your home is one of them. Here are four practical and workable ways to get started:
Give yourself permission to think differently about the uniquely personal space that you call home. The pandemic may have been the catalyst for using your space differently, but the truth is, that our lives are always evolving. Children grow out of nurseries, old hobbies and interests are replaced by new ones, and the aging process itself requires us to rethink our space. The opportunity right now is to envision, revisit, and repurpose with intention. Share your intention with everyone in your household and make them partners in this home-affirming process.
Envision – Start typing or grab a pen and paper and make a list of the spaces—not necessarily “rooms”—you long for. This isn’t the time to hold back. Getting things down in black and white is the first step toward manifesting what you want. Maybe you’re craving a dedicated place for an office, your plants, working out, crafts, teen activities, or a library. Whatever is on your list, don’t assume you can’t have it. With some rethinking, you may find one or more ways to make it happen.
Revisit – With your list in hand, go room by room, imagining how each space might be used differently to allow for what matters to you and how you live now. For example, that “spare” bedroom that’s relegated to hodge-podge storage is prime real estate waiting to be purposefully claimed, so what can it be? My formal living room—where no formal living has ever existed—is now my evening reading room. It is stacked with favorite books and magazines, warm lighting, and seasonal candles. Thinking in terms of what matters now, formality has been supplanted by serenity. Leaving no space without a purpose, a large empty corner is sectioned off by a decorative wall screen, camouflaging the clunky vacuum cleaner and other mundane but necessary things.
Repurpose – Once you have settled on how you want to revise or repurpose a space, focus on removing those things that no longer fit to make room for those that do. You will become more confident as you declutter with your new vision in mind. Take it one step at a time, as you embrace how your home is evolving right along with you.
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