We live in a lovely Mediterranean style town home in a desirable location in Santa Monica, Calif. But after we had our two daughters, we started to obsess over moving into a larger house. Toys and clutter were everywhere. We wanted more space. We wanted a garden. We wanted out! From At Home with Madame Chic.
So how did our magical Shangri-la become a dumping ground we had outgrown? How had our domestic paradise turned into a place we couldn’t even stand? The only thing that had changed, other than having two children, was our attitude. It stank!
After this very important gut check I changed my perspective. I needed to find a way to love our home again. Our chief complaint was that apartment living was inconvenient when you had two kids and a dog. We wanted more space and a backyard for the kids to run around in. Okay, fair enough. But I decided to look at things differently. I pointed out to my husband that our town home was very spacious, as town homes go. If we were in New York, Paris, or his native London, our town home would be a hot property, coveted by millionaires. (That’s being a bit dramatic, but I was trying to make the point to my husband.) When I lived in Paris with an aristocratic family in the Sixteenth Arrondissement, they seemed to make apartment living work for them, and they had five children! If they could do it and thrive, why couldn’t we?
Once we shifted our attitude, we decided to see what we could change to fix the “problems” we thought our home had. The double stroller that was crowding the entryway was moved to the second stair landing in our hallway. This was out of the way yet still accessible if we needed to pull it out, and it freed up all of that blocked space in the entryway of our home.
We didn’t have a garden, but I decided to take care of the neglected plants on my patio and get the girls involved. After a few fun trips to the garden center, we donned our gardening gloves and hats and pruned, watered, and fertilized. We even brought some ladybugs home from the garden center to spread through our container garden to act as a natural pesticide. (That’s what I call getting into it!) Our patio plants started to thrive, as did the geraniums on our balcony and in the window box. The herbs in our kitchen window box provided beautiful fragrance when we opened the window and were handy to snip off and use while cooking. In short, we could enjoy growing flowers and herbs even though we didn’t have an outdoor garden space to call our own. We might even get into growing container vegetables next year… who knows?
My cousin Kristy recently visited India on a trip for her work, where she interviewed Indian women about their home lives.
So many of the women she interviewed lived with their large families in very small one-bedroom apartments. She said that they all aspired to having “2BHK,” which means two bedrooms, hall, and kitchen. For many of those women, 2BHK would be a complete dream. This story really hit me. Not only did we have 2BHK, but we also had a living room, an office, a patio, balcony, and room for a washer/dryer. So what exactly was I complaining about again? Yes, it was time to check my bad attitude at the door and replace it with gratitude.
It is all about attitude. Yes, we still want a more spacious home with a garden, but in the meantime we are not going to wish our life away being miserable when we really should be grateful for having so much.
Visit Your Home
Wherever you live, whether it is in a home you own, a rented apartment, or a dorm room, if you feel you have fallen out of love with your space, it is time to start appreciating it again.
Try to look at it from someone else’s perspective. While you might not appreciate your current situation, there are plenty of people who are less fortunate than you who would. It’s time to think about all of the things that make you grateful for where you live. It’s time to change your mind-set.
Remember your first walk-through before you moved in? You were focusing on the great architecture, the light pouring through the windows, and the high ceilings. You were focusing on the positive, and you convinced yourself this was the perfect place for you. Bearing this in mind, let’s try an exercise. Walk through your front door and look at your home as if seeing it again for the first time. Focus on all of its greatness. Doing this exercise will have a twofold effect. You’ll see all of the great aspects of your home that made you initially fall in love with it, and you’ll also keenly notice where you’ve been neglecting your space.
The more you can love your home, the more you’ll want to take care of it. Then magical changes can occur. Instead of leaving that heap of laundry in the corner of your pretty bedroom for days on end, you’ll feel inspired to sort it and put it away. Instead of letting clutter accumulate on your fireplace mantel, you’ll feel motivated to find a place for all of your belongings and make a pleasing arrangement of objects that are special to you. You’ll start to feel motivated to do all of this on a regular basis. If you love your home and take care of it, it will love you back, filling you with pride.