Wellness Begins In The Home

For years I habitually dreamed of redecorating my home at 2831 Giverny Drive and by the way, I’m talking about even long after I moved on to another place.  Some dreams were about putting up new window treatments, others about rearranging furniture in the different rooms and still others focused on redoing the landscaping in my yard.  My dreams, teeming with brilliant colors and detail on occasion had to do with smells in my house and actual events like entertaining – all with a new décor as the backdrop of course.  These dreams came almost every single night and invariably left me fraught with anxiety upon waking each morning.  You see, night after night these dreams reminded me each morning that my house was out of kilter.  Why you wonder?  It’s because these dreams began soon after my marriage split up and believe you me they plagued me for years.  What I was “working” on in my dream state was clearly symbolic of the work I was doing on my interior self.  Feverishly each night as I slept I was trying to work through a renovation of my house in order to get back on track and feel balanced and well.  Funny thing though – a dear friend and counselor I know, Joyce Hennessy and I have had conversations about having dreams about houses.  She said that she has had many clients going through traumatic events such as divorce that have recurring dreams of cleaning their houses over and over again.  (Symbolic for cleaning up the mess or messes in life.)  But, my nightly dreams of redecorating were new to her.  Which obviously means that the “redecorating” in my dreams had other meaning- like maybe my home décor needed changing for other psychological reasons?!?

I am happy to say that for the last two or three years I have been free of these dreams.  I no longer have a single itty-bitty dream of 2831 Giverny Drive and hallelujah, what a blessing.  But, I had a conversation the other day with someone that brought all this back to me.  One of our projects for B&A Interiors was recently selected for a magazine article and so the writer interviewed me about my design philosophy.  I found myself explaining the principles of what I call “Psychology of the Home” and how important it is to create space for yourself that is not only peaceful and beautiful but is also the outward expression of who you are.  After I got off the phone it hit me like a ton of bricks.  That’s really what I was doing in my dreams.  In my dreams I was desperately trying to tell my psyche that my house didn’t match who I was and that it needed to become the true outward expression of myself.

Mind you, within a few days of becoming separated I began to change things in my house.  For example, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Our Homes Must Express Our True Essence, I had the landscapers remove a huge River Birch that was overtaking the front of my house completely obscuring the view outside.  Simply removing that tree changed the look of my house and said, “Hello world, here I am”.  Talk about liberating!  But for the most part it took a few years for me to fully express myself in my sanctuary and feel balanced through and through.  Along the way, I began to understand part of what I was doing in my clients’ homes.  I realized I was harmonizing their space with their personalities much like I did my own house.  Really, really cool!

Which takes me back to my interview with the writer of the magazine article.  I gave her some of the back-story of my clients, Katie and Seth, two young and very busy professionals who had a desire to create a beautiful space to live in that reflected who they are.  While talking to her I told her how happy they are now with their newly rehabbed uptown condo and that they can’t wait to come home to it every night after work.

Living Beautifully + Living Peacefully = Living Well

I happen to believe there are no coincidences in life.  This means that the dreams that plagued me for years were meant to teach me something about myself.  And, to take it a step further, I believe that the wisdom I gleaned from the dreams was to be shared with others in their own personal spaces.  That’s why I came up with the model I call “Homespace Coaching”.  Think of it as a formula for successful wellness.  Living beautifully (through choosing décor to fit your unique personality) plus living peacefully (through simple changes in how you live in your space) equals living well.

I live an incredibly blissful life.  I am well and whole.  I believe that my road to wellness truly began when I realized that everything begins in the home.  Sure, all the other things I do for myself like exercise, meditating and prayer enhance my life.  But the truth is, feeling alive and complete in my house created a home for me to thrive in and be well.

Through my dreams during a very painful and traumatic time in my life I was given a gift.  I was given the gift of awareness of the need to create for myself space that honors my true essence.  And now I am paying it forward by sharing this awareness with others.

Do yourself a favor – make sure you house is a home that gives you beauty and peace.  It’s the best wellness plan out there.

To wellness…

The Peripheral View Of Your Home

Remember wondering if your parents had eyes in the back of their heads when you were growing up because they seemed to see and know every move you made?  Actually, what they were probably doing was they were using their peripheral vision, which allowed them to see the whole picture of what was going on. We undervalue what our eyes observe peripherally so using our peripheral vision to view our homes is probably something most of us don’t think about.

The science of peripheral vision


Photo credit: Susan Muehl

The vision we use called central vision is focal point vision.  It is what you see straight on as you are looking at something.

Peripheral vision is what you see outside central vision.  It is referred to as side vision or indirect vision. In simple terms, peripheral vision is what you see to your right and to your left while you are looking straight at something.

What the peripheral tells you

Obviously, peripheral vision takes in much less detail than central vision does.  But, I believe that it is in the peripheral area of vision that we actually get a fuller picture of something for our brain to process.  That’s because peripheral vision  mentally combined with central vision helps your brain see the whole picture.

Viewing space

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Whenever I am assessing a client’s space, I use several different techniques such as the one I discuss in a recent post, View Your Home Through The Lens Of A Camera.

(Fortunately or unfortunately, I do this in every home I enter be it a family member’s, a friend’s, acquaintance’s or client’s as I obsess over detail of space constantly.)

One of the most important techniques  of assessment I use is what I call “The Peripheral Vision Test”.  I am not sure if you would ever see this technique explained in a design manual or learn it in the classroom but, intuitively I know it really gives a good picture of the area or space I am critiquing.

Why not try it yourself?

Using the technique for yourself

It is really a simple technique to use in your homespace.  You can go room by room, area by area and do this to assess how your space makes you feel.  (Remember it is what you feel that matters as you look at something.)

Here’s the how to:

Stand in the center of an area of your home.  For example, stand in your entryway.  Look straight ahead with your arms down by your sides.  What do you see?

Now, concentrate on using your side vision looking straight ahead.  What do you see?

What thought comes to your mind when you take the entire picture of this space into your mind?  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is what I see pleasing to my eye?
  • Does the complete picture of what I see have a good flow?
  • Is the complete picture cohesive?
  • Does anything I see jump out at me or seem out of place?

You can repeat this vision test throughout your home.  It really tells you a lot about your space and can help you ascertain any changes you might need to make to it.

Bird's eye view

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

For example, back in the foyer test I just used – you might realize that the room colors you have in the spaces to the right and left of the entryway don’t really flow well with what color you have on the walls in the foyer because you don’t feel good vibes from what you see overall.  Or, you might realize a piece of furniture needs to be moved slightly.  It is as if you have a feeling that something is just a tad off.  Question this and figure out what changes you need to make.

Now, if you find that you are not comfortable doing this yourself or don’t trust yourself, ask a close friend or family member to do this test in your home for you.  As long as you know that you will get an honest opinion, anyone willing to concentrate and take the time necessary can do this!

Here’s to getting a passing grade on this test!  Let me know how your home stacks up.  I would love to hear from you with the results of your experience in using your peripheral vision assessment test of your home.

Remember, it is just one more interesting way to observe your most private space- the space you call HOME.

Take the test…