Time for some House Therapy!


I have picked up a marvelous book from the library: Apartment Therapy – the Eight-Step Home Cure. Did you know that the guy who started apartmenttherapy.com (his name is Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan) had written books? Or that he was a “top interior-design guru”? Well, I didn’t before, but now I do.

Gillingham-Ryan starts by talking about two key concepts. The first is flow, or the way that energy moves through your home. This flow can be disrupted by clutter (I’ve got that), blocked spaces (ditto), and poor furniture arrangement (yep).

The second concept is seeing your home as a body with four limbs: bones, breath, heart, and head.

  • The bones of your home are the structural elements: walls, floors, windows, fixtures.
  • The breath relates to the arrangement of your furnishings, the way the energy flows through each room.
  • The heart is how you express yourself with style: colors, textures, themes.
  • Finally, the head is how the home reflects its purpose – why you use it and what you do there.

This program is supposed to help you cure your home on each of these levels. Gillingham-Ryan begins with an interview of his clients, which is Step One of the Cure. Some of the questions seem strange to me, but what the heck – I’m game.

List your favorite in each category:

  • Actress: Keira Knightley
  • Actor: Hugh Grant
  • Artist: Manet, Robert and Sonia Delaunay
  • Writer: Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott
  • Music: Most alternative music (but not 90’s alternative rock)
  • Restaurant: Carafe, but it’s gone now (*sniff*)
  • Automobile: Classic cars from the 40’s – 60’s
  • Television show: Friends
  • Clothing: Ugh – I actually have nothing to say here. I decided to take a “What’s Your Fashion Style?” quiz (or six), and I came out as Classic, Classically Chic, Preppy, Simply Relaxed, and Sporty. How’s that for all over the board?

How would you describe your style in three words: Casual, comfortable, not too trendy.

Where have you lived? Southern California, Portland, six months in Ireland, nine months in Germany, a few months here and there around Europe.

Whom would you consider a role model? I have too many to count. Everyone who does something well is a role model to me.

What three adjectives describe the qualities that you admire? Welcoming, organized, put-together. Generous. Stylish. Funny. I could go on and on.

What is the problem with your home in three words? Cluttered. Awkward. Unfinished.

If your home could speak, what would it say is the problem? “What is with these people? Are they opening a shop? Why in the world do they need to have so much of everything? And why, why WHY do they not deal with normal household maintenance in a timely manner?

What one thing would you like to do or do more of in your home? Cook well. (Runners-up: Entertain well. Deal with paper well.)

Eight weeks from now, when this project is done, how would you like visiting friends to describe your home? Beautiful. Welcoming. Mind-boggling (from the decluttering and the tidiness).

So, that was the interview! Did it clarify anything for me? Well, it did, a bit. I know that my style is pretty hard to pin down. You can see the classic trend in the “Favorites” section – classic cars, french restaurants, Manet, Jane Austen – but I see the modern touches, too: the Delaunays, alternative music. I need to find a way to marry these things together in my home. If you look in my front rooms right now, the furniture is light wood, the artwork and rug are all bright primary colors. In my family room, everything is more earth-toned, and the rug is a traditional wool floral pattern. It’s like a battle between the Pottery Barn Summer and Winter catalogs.  (Interestingly, all the lighter and brighter things were purchased for this house, the others for the old house. Looks like my style has changed in recent years.)

It also makes it clear what is bugging me, and what I want to accomplish. My house is currently cluttered, awkward, unfinished, overloaded and neglected. I want it to be welcoming, organized, put-together, generous – think entertaining! – stylish and funny. (Funny? Hmmm… no. Whimsical and creative, perhaps.)

So, what’s next? One more quiz next time, and then I start into the Cure itself. I’m looking forward to seeing some serious progress around here!

Let’s hear from you! Does your home reflect your personal style? What would it say if it could talk to you?

xo – Lori

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful for a lazy Saturday. I have come down with something, and I really needed time to just rest.