“Good Design Can Change Your Life”

When I saw “Good Design Can Change Your Life” on the bookshelf at the library, I just had to pull it out. It’s a new book by Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, with lots of pictures and idea-provoking tips. I love it because Ty asserts that “changes in your home can completely change your life.”

    Strong, yes, but not too overstated. It’s pretty easy to see that a drastic change like going from a flooded, rotting trailer to a beautiful 5 bedroom mansion is life changing, but not many people apply a scaled-down version of that lesson to their own lives. Do you get that stale, blah numbness while sitting in your living room? Maybe it’s because your house is in all “neutrals,” leaving you feeling as washed out as that cream color, with no exciting, warming, or otherwise fun burst anywhere. Maybe, if you live in New England, it’s because it gets dark at 4pm in the winter, and your lighting is either as dim as the outside or so bright and cold you could be in a warehouse. Do you get frustrated, even angry, as you’re trying to leave the house? Maybe it’s because your things are so cluttered you can’t find what you need or are tripping on your way out. Maybe it’s because that awful puke color the previous owners left the bathroom makes you upset every morning as you’re trying to shower and brush your teeth and generally get clean. Do you get anxious and uptight every time you have to sit at your computer? Maybe it’s because your chair isn’t properly adjusted and the desk isn’t the right height and that makes your shoulders cramp and your back hurt. Maybe it’s because it looks so sterile you feel cut off from your coworkers or family members.

    Little changes can make such a big difference in your life. Try finding colors that make you happy, rearranging furniture to suit the way you actually use it, using lighting that reduces eye strain and increases warmth. Clear the floor, get a bookshelf, put your bed against a different wall, do something to make your home the place you want it to be!

People often tell me they’re afraid to choose a bold color in their house either because ‘it might be too dark’ or ‘it’s not good for resale value.’ First—Don’t let fear dictate a boring home! Paint can be painted over again. Really. The worst thing that happens if you end up disliking a color is you have to repaint. A pain, yes, and a little bit of a time and money waste, but it is worth the attempt at an inviting, warm, interesting home that you love. Second—Don’t live your life in your home for an imagined future person! Again, you can repaint in 2, 5, 10, or 30 years if you really think a house has to be in neutral colors in order to sell (I happen to disagree, but that at another time).

Let your home be a vivid representation of the life you want to live. Most likely, it won’t look like anything I would have chosen—and if you really love floral prints and pink, that’s fine! As Ty says, “a home is so much more than the place where you eat and sleep. It is—or it should be—a reflection of all the things that matter to you.”  


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