By Caryn Paradis
We’re in quarantine. Even writing it after all this time sounds crazy. You’ve had some time to contemplate your home. A lot.
If you’re like me you started the lockdown in utter disbelief about this situation, then went to a promise to make it count; to learn new skills, clean out every closet, and, connect with your kids, and finally to times sitting on your sofa wishing for life to return to some semblance of normal.
I’m sure you’ve thought about how, if you could just knock down that wall, or add on that mudroom, or bring the laundry up from the basement, life would be better, easier. While that may be true, there’s a better place to start. Why not take advantage of all the time we’ve had to stare at our own four walls to define and plan HOW we’d like to live.
Answering the how, and setting goals to get there sets you up to live a better life.
In the studio, “design makes life better” is our mantra, and drives whatever we do. For our clients, the first step in our design process is uncovering their goals: for living, for working, for family, and for aesthetics, and our goal for our clients is to create a place for living while living beautifully.
So while you’re dreaming of a future without masks at the grocery store, the return of back yard dinner parties, and the first day of school, try this list-making exercise we use with our clients.
1. Picture your family this year, next year, in five or ten years. Families change quickly, so how they use space changes quickly too. Your toddler (our toddler grandchild) playing in the living room is very different than that teenager finding a place to do her homework. How can your house plan for both?
2. What is your favorite time of day? Why? Are you a morning person? Maybe you’d rather have the morning sun streaming in as you make your coffee. Do you love the time of day when your family is all home, together? Maybe a large kitchen or dining room is in order so there’s a great place to congregate.
3. Describe your favorite outfit. I know this sounds funny, but it’s really telling: you usually wear colors you like, which will give you clues to colors for your home. Don’t own anything you can’t put in a washing machine? Low maintenance and easy-to-clean finishes are probably your speed.
4. Describe the best vacation you can remember. Was it hanging on the beach? Was it exploring the little nooks and crannies of a Greek town? Was it your whole family all together in an awesome house you rented? Think about the things that resonated with you, and add those feelings and details to the list.
5. Are you most comfortable in a noisy room of family and friends, or in a serene, quiet, and cozy space curled up with a good book? Both? Something else? If you realize some peace and quiet actually makes you feel better, than an open-plan concept may not be for you, but instead planning for a quiet “away space” will give you a place to go when you need to feed that side of you.
Next, take all your answers and put them in paragraph form. “My home has a quiet kitchen, filled with morning light, and a big open gathering space for when my family comes together at the end of the day. It needs to be blue, with accents of grass green and is easy to maintain so I can spend more time on things I love. My home has space for large back yard parties, and quiet moments curled up with a good book.” Write down the picture you have for your life now, and in the future. Then look at your current spaces: would your living room be a better dining room because it gets better light at the end of the day, or it’s a little larger? Should your plan for a bedroom on the first floor for your parents when they visit, then for you as you age? Is the playroom for your kids located in a place where you could set up a homework or craft station for older kids later on?
Use your paragraph as the road map to getting the life you want at home. As we all have experienced, your home is where you spend a lot of your time. Why not make it the perfect platform for living your life as you designed?
Caryn Paradis Interior Design is a high-touch, full-service firm. We define goals with clients to design better lives.
Photos by Caryn Paradis