Seven Avenues of Self-Discovery
Finding Your Identity
Taking stock of what’s important to us comprises two parts. First, we survey our beliefs and values. Then, we consider how our homes reflect, or don’t reflect, those key beliefs and values. The following toolbox can help spark progress.
Make Lists. Alexandra Stoddard has her clients simply list 10 words that define who they are now. The list might include words like “love,” “green,” “food” or “memories.” The next step is going from room to room and seeing how well each space mirrors these values.
Jill Butler also recommends listing all of the activities we see happening in our reinvented home. It helps evolve the types of spaces needed and suggests innovative uses for rooms.
Draw a Picture. Clare Cooper Marcus has given her clients a large pad of paper, crayons and felt pens and asked them to detail their feelings about home in a picture. In creating a concept of home that they could see, the clients were better able to make those changes happen in their homes.
Take a Field Trip. Kelee Katillac suggests taking a “field trip” in our own home. “Walk through your house now and look for things that exemplify something of your beliefs and values,” she advises. “List objects and areas that have special meaning to you. This meaning may be known only to you—more of an association. You may also see many things there that have no meaning to you; it’s time to let those go.”
Clear Out Clutter. The accumulation of things we no longer really need signals “not wanting to let go or move on from a stage in your life,” says Marcus, whether that stage is child-rearing, professional life or a relationship that has changed or ended. When we prune away things that are no longer necessary to us, saying yes only to what we need, love and absolutely can’t live without, we can better see the path ahead. We can sell, recycle, donate or throw away things that no longer serve. Creating order makes us feel more peaceful, confident and ready for creative action.
Ask Questions. Butler recommends asking the “W” questions. Where are you now? What do you want? What do you see around you? “Ask yourself what pleases you and makes you feel good,” she says. Maybe it’s a cozy color, a fresh breeze through the window or family photographs. Are these elements present now?
Embrace Opposites. Katillac asks couples questions like, “What do you want more of in your life?” She finds the commonality in their answers, but also celebrates the opposites—what each person wants without considering the other person at all. For example, one might prefer Zen-like, serene surroundings, while the other loves the rustic outdoors, but they both want to feel family-friendly and casual. So, a “Zen cabin” could become a translation of their mutual desires. “I love the juxtaposition of two different ideas,” says Katillac. “It’s all about helping people create a home that reflects who they are and who they want to be.”
Pause. Wait for emotions to settle. Don’t be in a hurry to decide this, that, or all of it. Let decisions sit on the to-do list, undecided, for a while. Watch as the choices become clear naturally, organically, quietly.