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.

I’m dreaming of a round table…

I have been haunting Craigslist again lately.

When we were down in California at my sister’s for the funeral, I started thinking about how much I love her big, round dining room table. When we all sit around it, you can see every other person. It feels cozy. (It’s also good feng shui – round dining tables are said to promote harmonious relationships.)

Our table doesn’t have that same feeling. We have a long, narrow dining room, and we bought a long, narrow dining table to fit into it. Don’t get me wrong – I love the table. It is from Ikea, and it is a gorgeous light birch wood.  It works very well when David has game days, because you can have two separate games going on at once, one on each end! But for meal times, it doesn’t feel very welcoming to me to have everyone seated in long rows down the sides of the table, with the Chairmen of the Board holding court at each end.

I’d like to say that it doesn’t always look like this, but more often than not, something is getting “processed” on the long table. Board games, for instance…

Then again, maybe the length of the table is not the issue. Our friends have the same table, and we love to gather around it at their house. So what’s the difference?

Could it be the chairs? Our chairs – hardwood chairs with hardwood seats – are definitely not very comfortable. We have a matching bench, and nobody likes to sit on it. (David says it is because the bench is backless.) Perhaps if we had nice, comfortable upholstered chairs, it would seem more welcoming.

So those are some of the things I am searching Craigslist for: a big round table and comfy chairs. There are a zillion small round tables, plenty of medium-sized country-style oak pedestal tables, but no really big round ones.

If we were to get a round table, however, it could not go in the same area the dining table is in now. It’s truly too narrow for something round. But a round table might fit in the front part of that room, the area that is supposed to be the living room, but which currently holds a foosball table, as seen here:

So I’m thinking I could flip the two rooms, and have what is now the dining room function as the “game room.” It would put the table 15 feet farther away from the kitchen, though. Hmm… Decisions, decisions….

For now, I need to keep working through my paperwork, my decluttering, and general housecleaning. But in the meantime, I’ll keep looking on Craigslist and see what I can find. Here’s my latest discovery: a copper-topped table.

*sniff! * Photo no longer available.

It looks pretty big, like it could seat at least six, doesn’t it? I’m sure tempted to go and see it for myself!

xo – Lori

Daily Check-In:

I’m grateful for public transit. It’s spendy ($2.50 each way!) but so is gas, at this point. Since we are down to one car for now, having TriMet available – and a transit center so close to our house – is pretty great.

Living room turned game room

Those of you who have seen my living room are laughing at the word “turned.” My living room, which is the front room of my house, has been home for the past few years to approximately 350 European-style strategy board games and card games. It is a very narrow room, so its furniture was limited to a loveseat and two chairs which only fit when set at an angle, as shown in this photo:

But when we decided to steal the loveseat for use in the now-TV-watching family room, the living room was basically bare, with the exception of the game cabinets. So we decided to embrace the inner gamer in the room and just go whole hog. As you can see here, we did keep the chair you saw on the left side, above:

Those with sharp eyes will notice a little something in that photo. Let’s just say I was inspired by a decorating book where the designer turned her front room over to a pool table, which became a magnet for her children’s friends. We don’t have a pool table, but we do have:

A foosball table! Yes, we now have a foosball table in our living room. It was down in the basement, and when our strongman friend Mark helped David move all the furniture up from the basement that afternoon, the foosball table was brought up as well. We had planned on storing it in the garage, but I suddenly remembered that pool table idea and we decided to try it. As you see it when you enter the room, it looks like this:

See the games in that cabinet? That’s nothing. The other side of the room looks like this:

Now those are games. With the foosball table in place, it is now truly a game room.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! for the extremely mild drug day I have had today. This has only happened once before, and I paid for it a couple of days later when I was completely wiped out. I hope that doesn’t happen this time. I like to think that I am actually just getting acclimated to the whole thing. I suppose that’s not a very cheerful thought! “I am now so used to megadoses of prednisone that it’s nothing!” I think that’s what happens to addicts. Luckily prednisone isn’t addictive!
  • I’m lighter! We used our time extremely well today. After being awakened at 4:45 am when our new neighbors started to blare music and talk loudly on their deck, we decided to type up a spreadsheet of everything we needed to do in the next 23 days before we leave for Europe. The list was 234 items long. We prioritized them and sorted them into what needed to be done, and when… and ended up with a list of 41 things that need to be done this weekend. Bwa-ha-ha!!!! I’ll keep you posted as to how many we actually complete.