The other day I met a woman who seemed beyond exhausted. In order to preserve her privacy, I’ll call her Beth. Beth is married, mother of two toddlers, and works from home in quiet while the kids are in daycare.
Beth seemed worn down from head to toe. It was an exhaustion that came from deep within. I had been invited into her home for a design consultation. Like she’d told me over the phone when we set up the appointment, her home looked like a daycare with toys sprawled all over the place.
I surveyed Beth’s family room while we talked. In it was a gargantuan sectional that had taken over the room; for several minutes it was just about all I could see apart from the toys scattered across the floor. Gargantuan had truly taken on a life of its own. It soaked up way too much energy, throwing about its out-of-scale weight in a room that couldn’t handle a piece of furniture of that size.
There was also a shag area rug that helped to delineate the space, but which did little to make you feel good about standing on or even near it. All you could possibly feel was matted, heavy fibres weighted down by the thousands of footsteps that had trudged overtop.
The story behind these design decisions was that Beth and her husband had decided to purchase “temporary furniture”. They didn’t want to feel as though they were wasting their money, so they spent very little in order to have furniture that would ugly-out over time, as their children grew up. By not investing in quality, they felt that they were not throwing away their money.
“Don’t let your design decisions take control over you. Take back control and make your space your own.” – Saree Parry
Beth’s voice was apologetic and remorseful as she shared this with me. However, she was also ready for a change, which is why I was there. I could clearly sense that in the way her eyes lit up when discussing the future and talking about possibilities. What I don’t think Beth realized was just how much the decorating choices that she and her husband had made were bringing her down — temporary or otherwise.
This was obvious in the way that she hadn’t been motivated to make her home feel like hers — just the thought of trying to make it work felt overwhelming and exhausting. It was all too much to think about, let alone do anything about.
Beth’s home was testament to her beloved little ones’ carefree lives, overrun with artifacts of their fun-filled childhood. Just about every part of the house reflected the needs of her children, but only those of her children. Where were the adults? Seeing nothing that represented or refueled Beth day in and day out was gradually wearing her down.
After our meeting and into the next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about how different her life could be with a touch of thoughtful design. I envisioned multiple places where we could quickly and effortlessly make small changes that would still meet the needs of the children and the adults in the home.
“Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your soul.” – Alice Walker
There were places to put away toys; a grown-up colour scheme to reflect Beth and her husband’s tastes; stylish furniture designed to withstand the exuberance of little hands and little feet. And that was just the beginning.
Mostly, my thoughts kept returning to that overbearing and life-sucking sectional: Gargantuan. Like many of the items in Beth’s family room, it was meant to be an inexpensive placeholder that would work for the time-being.
Although it often sounds counter-intuitive at first, the best value for your dollar is to invest in well-crafted, quality furniture, especially when raising young ones. In other words, spend 2-3 times as much on a sectional constructed from a solid, hardwood frame, wrapped with the right amount of padding, with a hardy spring system designed to withstand children playing, and upholstered in a durable fabric that can endure spills and stains.
It is entirely possible to decorate with high-quality, durable furniture that is both stylish and child-friendly. The performance fabric described above is available in a large variety of colours and textures to suit different decorating styles. Likewise, you can add devices to make beautiful furniture safe for young children (as well as protect the furniture from them) that can be easily removed as they mature. Such gadgets include corner and edge bumpers, and anchors to avoid items like floor lamps from tipping over.
“The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them.” — David Hicks
I’m pleased to share that Beth agreed with my perspective and is one step closer to a home that is a true reflection of her entire family.
Do you feel at all like Beth? Do you feel absolutely spent in your own home?
Imagine a seamless room design that’s uplifting. Each time you’re in that room, your thoughts vary between how much you love it, how proud you feel, and how energized you are! At some point you won’t even give it much thought because it will have become your new normal.
This is what good design feels like. And everyone deserves good design because we all deserve to feel good.