Recently I was catching up on season 3 of Netflix's Queer Eye. The hero of one episode, a young father named Robert, lives in a suburban house with his fiance Jamie and their three children.
At the beginning of the episode, the Fab Five conducts their investigation of Robert’s home and life to see how they can help him. We learn that Robert (who will be married to his fiance by the end of his week on Queer Eye) has been sleeping alone in the basement.
When the interior designer for the group, Bobby Berk, asks about the sleeping situation, Robert replies that they had given their oldest daughter the master bedroom to give each of the three children their own room.
He goes on to reveal that Jamie doesn't like the basement, and sleeps upstairs on the couch instead.
So, to break it down - we've got three children each with their room, mom's on the couch, and dad's in the basement.
Bobby insists on moving Robert and Jamie back into the master bedroom, citing how important it is for a long term relationship to be able to go to sleep and wake up together.
I know that in my experience, Bobby's insight rings true. Some days, this time in bed is all my husband, and I will have together. I couldn't imagine sleeping in different beds, let alone separate rooms or even floors!
How you use your space is how you live your life.
In compromising their bedroom, this couple was, perhaps unwittingly, compromising intimacy and romance. By downgrading their needs as a couple, they were allowing their kids to "rule the roost," as Bobby says.
This may seem like an extreme situation, but as a professional organizer, I often witness cases where my client has not been using their space in a way that is in alignment with how they want to live their life.
For example, someone may long to have people over, to have space to exercise and play with their dog, but their living space is stuffed with the belongings of a deceased loved one.
Or, they might have cabinets and closets overflowing with things they "could use"...but they have no time to use them because they are fighting a losing battle with clutter (this happens a lot in kitchens).
Often, it's not as simple as just getting rid of a bunch of stuff. You need to make contact with the life you want to be living and make a change from there. Here's how to do that.
Get Clear on Your Needs and Desires
A lot of times, people don't know what's wrong - they just know that they're struggling. It's hard to meet your needs and desires if you don't know what they even are.
Getting clear on your needs and desires requires self-reflection. I like to free write in my journal or take a long walk. It can also be helpful to seek out a therapist or a coach who will listen as you describe your situation.
You may not have an answer right away. When we're struggling, it can be easy to get stuck on everything that's going wrong. If that's the case, that's perfectly fine, because you can still work with that.
See if you can get specific about what's going wrong. Make a list, write it down. Then imagine what the opposite of each statement would be.
For example, you might say, "I can't entertain at home because I don't have enough space." The opposite of that would be, "I have plenty of space for entertaining."
Think About How You'd Want Those Needs and Desires Met
Now that we know that, in this example, you have a desire to have plenty of space for entertaining, think about what that would look like if you had it all your way.
Think about the experience you'd want to create. Perhaps you see your friends casually hanging out at the kitchen table. Or maybe you imagine an elegant dinner party in a formal dining room.
It can be a powerful boost to your vision to collect images. I like to use Pinterest for this. In this project, I might collect literal photos of dining rooms that inspire me or details like the plates I'd imagine setting the table with, or even just random images that evoke a mood that I'd like to create.
Determine What's Getting in the Way
Sometimes, you don't live in a space that reasonably provides what you need to realize your vision. For example, you might live in a small apartment that would require you to give up your living room to create a formal dining room, and you might not be willing to do that.
If so, perhaps your desire for more elegance and formality in entertaining could be honored in other ways in your current space. You may not be able to host the fancy dinner party, but could you transform your living room into an area where you could have a fancy cocktail party?
Other times, you might have space - you just can't see it yet.
Don't just assume that you don't have space. Walk through your home and take a survey of each room, what you use it for and what's in there. Are you using all of your space with intention? Or are you settling in some way?
Just as Robert and his now wife gave up their intimacy by giving their master bedroom to their daughter, it could be that you're giving up some of your needs and desires by misusing your space.
Once you can see that ineffective space planning and clutter is in the way of your vision, you can make a change. Not only in your space, but in the way you live your life.
With Love & Gratitude,