What is your dream home? A castle? A minimalist tiny home? A cottage by the sea? A city condo? Something else, that is unique?
Or do you live in the house you want, but it doesn’t feel like home yet — it isn’t the comforting sanctuary you imagined?
In both cases, what you need is a way to make the dream home real to you, to build it with the awareness that — like everything else in life — it needs a special energy to thrive. I am a big believer in homes. And in the power of a home.
You want to create a home that fills you with positive energy, gives you support when you need it and relaxation when you feel like it, a place where you can welcome friends and family, and where you can enjoy being surrounded by a space that matches who you are, and what you love.
IKEA presented a “Life at Home”report in 2018 that stated 1 in 3 people all over the world say there are places where they feel more at home than the space they live in. “In cities this has risen from 20% in 2016 to 35% in 2018. 64% of people globally would rather live in a small home in a great location as opposed to a large home in a less than ideal location, and 23% of people feel they have to leave the home to find alone time. We are entering a new era of life at home. 60% of people are ready to create a home that’s different from the one they were brought up in.”
You want to live better than that! So what exactly is it that makes your home feel like home?
The answer lies in the word intention. You need to define what it is you want. Not just a little. You need to define every detail. Even if your budget can’t manage everything you intend your home to be, you can get way closer to your ideal if you create such an intention, because that focus gives you a purpose and direction, instead of leaving you with a scattered vision. And because your intention is to create an environment around you that you love, you bring toward you the best of choices, no matter what amount of money you have to work with.
THE FIRST STEP IS TO WRITE DOWN THAT INTENTION OF YOURS
There’s a known connection between how our consciousness interprets what we want and the act of writing down what we want — this is how we inform our inner awareness that we have this wonderful vision we want to manifest. After all, everything is a thought before it becomes real. “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” Napoleon Hill said. His book Think and Grow Rich, which has sold over 100 million copies, is not just about making money — it is about realizing a dream, any dream, no matter its size — and aligning it with the heart as well as the mind. Writing down your intention about your home does this — makes it real to both your heart and mind! This can save you time and money because it allows you to make your intention very clear to both the architect, if you need one, and the contractor who’s doing the actual work.
Maybe all you can do is remodel where you are now. Yet that could make your home into a castle of its own, not in size, but in its presence for you.
Maybe you can buy a house you want to own, but it needs a lot of work to be truly livable.
And maybe you decide you want to build your own house from the foundation up.
All three choices are opportunities that can fulfill your intention. You just need to choose the one that works best for you, that is “real to both your heart and mind.”
THEN you know you are ready to get some expert help. Whether remodeling the house you are in now, or buying a fixer-upper, or building your own house, you need to be well-informed. You need the advice of people you can trust who are willing and able to offer sound options and guide you as you deal with all the vagaries of construction, from choosing flooring, determining dimensions for an add-on, redoing an attic, upgrading your wiring and plumbing, or choosing the architect and contractors who will actually build your home for you.
THE VISION BOARD
What I suggest is that you create a detailed wish list, which can also be a vision board.
Starter question: Ready? Who do you want to be in this house?Who are you creating it for? Remodeling it for? Designing it for? (Is it for you, your children, mother, artist, piano player, cook, fashionista? You get the drift…)
What do you want to be able to do in this house? (Do you want to treat friends to a big dinner, have mom stay for weeks at a time, maybe finally get yourself three dogs?)
As a big fan of vision boards, I suggest you actually take time and get pictures to support your answers. This will help drive decisions on how big a dining table you need, whether you even need a dining room or whether you need to focus on having a guest room or office, instead. Perhaps you rethink your dimensions and feel adding space to your bathroom is better than having a closet. Or maybe a big linen closet in your bathroom is important!
Your awareness about each decision you make and how it matches your intention helps you create your ideal home. Know who you are…know you are enough. Keep that in mind. Trust your feelings about what works best for YOU.
NOTE: If you are not sure what has to go into this wish list, have a look at this book, Designing Your Dream Home, by Susan Lang. It is pretty thorough in letting you know what details to consider and what questions to ask. Spending a few dollars for a Kindle edition of this book is totally worth it.
Creating that wish list will clarify your thoughts (and lower your stress level a lot in general). It also helps you feel confident about what you want even when people around you, be they friends, family, or contractors, try to dissuade you from an idea. Think on it first. Don’t buy into what someone says without questioning it and seeing if it aligns with your own vision and intention.
If some of the rooms to be remodeled involve your children, here is an assignment that is easy to do for or with the kids:
I always ask my kids to tell me which color scheme they want in their rooms. I guess it makes it feel real for them. We have a history with using vision boards. I asked them to do the same thing for our previous apartment remodel. There was just one little issue — it took 7 months between creating the mood board for the apartment and living in the apartment for real. It has definitely been taking longer than that in my latest project to “make it real”! But as my daughter had wisely mentioned, it is a house I was having built, not an apartment, after all…
The good news is you do not have to create the wish list all in one go. Just check out each room and take as much time as you need. At your own speed, at your leisure. This also gives you time to sleep on these ideas and helps you make more careful choices. If you are not sure which of the two window styles to pick, print out both and put them up — on the wall or on the fridge or on the cork board. Look at them for several days on and off– you will find out that you want to take one of them down.
I have said this often in my many years in construction and interior remodeling — you would be astonished at how often your wishes about what you are trying to build can get lost because of various construction compromises. In the current market, the gap between the idea for a project and its execution can be as long as a couple of years. In addition, it has become a practice that an architect often hands over a project to the contractor directly without consulting you, so you can lose control over what features stay and which ones go during an inevitable budgeting exercise. You have to be vigilant and prevent this from happening. The more aware you are, and the more clear your intention, the more rapidly and effectively you control the outcome.
MAKING CHANGES LATER ON
You are human, of course, and however personal and valuable and desirable this project is to you, you are inevitably going to forget things when you create your intention and when you develop your wish list. You are going to get side-tracked. You might even at one point get seduced by a stylish design idea you’ve come across in a magazine or that a friend has used or, for that matter, a designer has suggested. You start to second-guess yourself.
But what if these new ideas don’t really match who you are and what you want at heart? That new feature will become a disconnect and a stumbling block. Having your documented wish list from the beginning, and that vision board, means you are able to hold on to a clear idea of what you really want. Without it, you lend yourself to the chaos of a developing project that could quickly — and expensively — get out of hand.
(On the upside, you may learn so much from the process that you come up with even better ideas as things progress. You may want to alter the plan, assuming it does not alter your budget. But just proceed with care.)
Your wish list is the reason you began this project in the first place. You want to make your home more comfortable, more stylish, more you.
At least, I hope you do. That is what I want for you. You intend this house to be your sanctuary, a place where you want to spend your time, a place that makes you feel at ease and content and, yes, happy. Thus, you want to choose colors you enjoy, and features that uplift you every day of your stay in this house, making you feel right at home.
TURNING TO DETAIL — EXACTLY WHAT HAS TO BE ON YOUR WISH LIST?
Here is where you need to look hard and decide: What is a must have and what is just a “nice to have”?
- Look at a remodeling project you are considering, say the renovation of a room. What do you really dislike in the room that is in line for the remodel? What do you like? Is there anything you love about the room? Take an inventory of what is there — a very good starting point! Even better — take a panoramic picture and a picture of every wall in this room and circle everything you want to keep and cross out everything you don’t want. Do this for every room you are planning to remodel. If you are building your own home from the foundation, create a scrapbook for it in a folder online or one you manually add photos and pictures to that please you.
- Looking at images on the Internet is a great place to find ideas. The resources tumble over each other to get your attention: Pinterest. HGTV. Houzz. Google. All of them are likely to offer you possibilities to explore. Some of these possibilities may be out of reach, but perhaps not forever. I keep ongoing vision boards to collect ideas for my clients, but time and again I will save something for the secret board — even though my home is already completed. What do I know, we might move again.
Using Folders to Organize Your Wish List
Folders help you organize your vision and create the reality of your new home with greater clarity. Create one for each room.
What goes into a folder for a specific room? Images and ideas you love — pictures that make you feel like you want to be in that room, that if you could, you would move in straight away. Or maybe there is only one part of a picture you find that speaks to you in a good way — that’s okay — make a screenshot with only that item so it is the only part you keep in the folder.
Keep the folder fairly contained. For each room to be remodeled or built, pick a number, say 10, per room for each folder and stick to it. That means only 10 images for that room go into that folder.
The beauty of making an actual physical folder is that it actually gives you spatial boundaries. PC folders, Pinterest boards or Houzz idea books can be harder to monitor, but they also need to have a limitation set up, preferably having no more than 20 images each.
Keep in this folder only your absolute winners! Make sure you love the image or section of the image you have saved.
It is important you understand what unites the pictures in the folder, too. Look for similarities — be it color, texture, style, finish, pattern, level of comfort, or an atmosphere you would like to re-create. Look for these commonalities because they save you a lot of time in making decisions later.
I am also going to ask you to create a separate folder of images and ideas you DON’T LIKE. You can create one folder for the whole house or one for each room. The main purpose of this folder is sometimes even more important when you seek help from contractors or designers. Find images that you absolutely dislike and under no circumstances would welcome in your home.
Why is this folder so important to have? When you talk to a designer, for example, and share this folder with her, she will be getting back to you with a mood board. That mood board will reflect what she believes she heard you say during that hour of a consultation.
Did she get it right? If you told her that you will not have gray in your home, that you intensely dislike the color, and she comes back with a gray color pallet — you will know that this is not the right designer for you. If she cannot listen to you before the start of the project, why would she change during the project?
In my multiple meetings with designers and contractors, they all say communication is the most important thing that keeps the project together. Watch for the signs that the professionals on your team know how to communicate and how to share information.
Your folders get across to others what you want to see happen.
Happy remodels! Happy renovations! Happy (life) updates!