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Emotionally Satisfying Home

August 8, 2012

It is a happy weekly event for me that my local newspaper now includes a supplement from The New York Times.  I enjoy this opportunity to sample the writing of these excellent journalists and their thought provoking  pieces every week-end.

A bonus is that there is occasionally an article that inspires me to write, and as anyone who has to write knows, inspiration can be hard to come by.  This is article number two, thanks to a NY Times column.  Article number one was my June post, Self-Conscious Design.

The inspiration column from Saturday, July 21, 2012 was titled, “How We Spend to Buy Happiness.”  It opens with the question, ” Would you spend $1,800 on a Prada dress or a weekend in Italy?”  The premise is that the weekend in Italy is more satisfying because it will create a memory, while the dress is simply an object and forgettable.   It has to be said, though, that for some of us, buying a $1,800 dress would be memorable!

A study at San Francisco State University found that more people who spend their money on experiences such as trips had greater life satisfaction than those who purchased material items.  You can’t buy happiness but you can buy a happy experience.

Sure, we want great experiences, but we also want our stuff.  Interior decorating is more popular than ever.  How our home and work space looks and reflects our personal style is important to our well being.  To quote Anita Patil, writer of the article, “it’s no longer enough for our furniture to be functional and beautiful; it must be emotionally satisfying, too.”

Your office chair can be designed by a luxury car maker, your sofa a famous interior designer.  It feels like an event to make these large and special purchases, and acquiring them becomes a story to be told over and over, especially if the savvy retailer makes the buying experience special (the latte or espresso doesn’t hurt).  A purchase won’t necessarily be memorable because it’s expensive, but it will be if there is an experience associated with it.

So, how do we create an emotionally satisfying home, one filled with memories of experiences?  One that isn’t just crammed with stuff, but is arranged and furnished to satisfy our desire for personal comfort and beauty?   Well, one way is to make sure that it does reflect your personal style, that it suits you and your family well, that is doesn’t look like a department store.   Martha Stewart, Brian Gluckstein and Vern Yipp have wonderful taste and design lovely furniture, but your home should include some of their offerings, not look like pages from their websites.

Hunt down a storied antique, buy art from local artists or on your travels, arrange a grouping of small family heirlooms on a shelf.  They will evoke memories, collecting them will be events to remember, and your home will tell a story, your story.

And now a shameless plug for interior design services.  Hire a designer, and if she’s good, she will help to make the process of decorating or design an enjoyable event.  You are going to make an investment in some stuff, why not have a good experience, as well as a successful outcome?


About Adele Barrett

Adele Barrett is a consulting interior designer in Hamilton and Dundas. Over twenty years of conferences and continuing education classes keep Adele Barrett Interiors design practice both on trend and timelessly classic. She started collecting paint chips from the local lumber yard when she was 3 years old, and a seed was planted that grew into a career. Continue reading...