Are you an empty nester or soon to be? This can either be a difficult time or one for celebration (or both!). The bottom line is you have space in your home that can be re-purposed, needs a refresh, or it's time to down size.
Remember back to just before the delivery of your first child. Some of us had the 'nesting' urge or urged our partners to get that nesting done before the baby comes or else! Among the many emotions of watching your children go off on their own (sadness, worry, freedom, loneliness, etc) you might find the feeling of re-nesting. This time it's just for you or perhaps to accommodate aging parents; not for children with the many toys, strollers, bottles and more that they come with. For this reason, after, or while, you sort out your emotions, the first stage might be decluttering. (Sorry if I just swore!)
There are many, many books out there on how to declutter. It's not just a task for organizing (keep, toss, donate). It can be just as emotional as letting your children go. Your belongings collected over the years mean something to you. If you find that is no longer the case, then FANTASTIC. You are on your way to finding space to be repurposed. If you feel you don't know where in the world to start, I recommend hiring a professional. I can recommend a couple of very talented professionals if you live within the Dane County Wisconsin area. Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now what! You have a clean home, but that means it is even emptier than before. You will have to decide how to use all that reclaimed space. Do you need a guest bedroom, a hobby room, an exercise area? Do you just want to make your living room luxurious yet live-able and ready to entertain your friends, host a book club, watch movies on the screen of your dreams? Is it time to move to a smaller home or a home with less upkeep? Only you can decide, but once decided you might want to enlist an interior designer to help you find the best place within your home to create your very own vision.
Once you decide what you want, whether you plan to move or reuse a space within your current home, you'll want to plan out what you need for the purpose of the room and get to work on collecting your inspiration items. See this blog post for tips on finding your style/feel for your room.
Should you consider 'Aging in place'? If you live in your 'forever' home, staying there safely is imperative. You can still have a beautiful home with minor changes that can help ensure you get to stay there. This website has some tips for home modifications.
What about those of us that have tiny homes or just not enough rooms for dedicated space for your dream room? What if one of you wants a sewing room and the other wants a wine tasting room but you only have one room to remodel. You just might have to set up a multi-purpose room or use multi-purpose furnishings to make this happen. (And keep the wine away from the fabric!) This is the kind of challenge that I personally like! It takes creativity to find the needed storage and functional furnishings to keep your hobbies fun and accessible, while ensuring you have a guest room for an occasional visitor or room for different hobbies. Let me close with a few fun ideas I found while googling about!
What do you want to see done in your home? Are you an empty nester? Any great organizing tips? Comment below, please.
What is the first thing you think of when you want to change up your room?
I recommend considering decluttering or completely removing all furnishings and décor if you can. Now you have a blank slate and possibly a blank mind! What to do?
There are numerous tests you can take online to find out your style. They can be a fun start, but keep in mind they have been programmed for the masses. If you google images of a particular style like farm house, industrial, or contemporary, you WILL find pictures that incorporate elements of those styles. Do you ALWAYS like ALL the elements? Chances are the answer is 'No'.
"So now what, Brenda?", you ask. Let's talk 'Feel' or 'Mood'. What do you want the room to feel like? What mood do you want it to take on? Here are three mood boards I designed to start envisioning what I wanted in three different spaces...
Of course, these are just images like those you find when you google a style. You may not like all the items on the mood board your designer presents to you. That's okay. It is a communication tool. Your interior designer will ask you a ton of questions about what you like and don't like. Even then, she will not run out and order the exact item you approve (unless you can't live without it!). The skills a professional designer brings to you is knowing how to translate the elements that make up the mood into furnishing and accessorizing your space.
I encourage you to start a collection of your own images using whatever you are used to - pictures on your phone, Pinterest boards, Houzz idea boards, etc. Get some old magazines from a thrift store and tear out pictures. Don't just collect pictures of furnishings you like. Collect images of ANYTHING that invokes the feeling you want your space to have. That might be a flame, a feather, a rock, a book, a color, whatever. The sky is the limit.
Gather your pictures into one place and try to analyze what is common about the pictures. Toss out or move aside pictures that take away from the feel you want to end up with. Take a picture or paste those magazine pics onto a large sheet of paper in a way that tells your story. That story will go miles in helping your designer know the direction to take toward providing you with a space that will give you joy for years to come. If you take the DIY route, be sure to take your mood board with you when shopping and don't be afraid to show it when asking a salesperson for help in picking out items for your room. Although there are many other design considerations to making your space look cohesive and getting every piece to work together, this method is tried and true for getting inspired and leading you in the right direction.
It's your turn, now! I invite you to comment on your method for collecting inspiration for decorating a space.
I, Brenda Szarek, am the founder of Autumn Light Interiors. I have immersed myself in home design and problem solving for years. I have creative solutions for those transitioning their life. I hope you enjoy my tips, tricks, trends, and inspiration to help you find your way to a well-designed, comfortable, and functional home you can be excited to live in and welcome others within.