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Getting the Life You Want by Changing the Space You've Got

by Rebecca West

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9976237-0-3
Publisher: Bright House Books

In this debut design guide, West presents remodeling as a means for life improvement.

Our homes reflect the best and worst of our inner selves, asserts the author, as they encourage us to pursue our goals: “Your home can be the key to better health, better sleep, better relationships, and an all-around better life,” she says. But West points out that “Your home can also lock you into a damaging relationship, drain your energy, and devour your money.” Decorating and remodeling can truly improve people’s lives, she says, but only if they go into it with honest self-examination. In this book, she asks readers to more deeply consider the psychology of home improvement rather than simply going out and buying whatever they think will make them happy. The author roots each decision in biography, not property, urging readers to consider what environments are most amenable to sleep and fitness and to long-term career and family goals; she also addresses how to refresh a home after one’s kids leave for college or one’s marriage ends. By considering the economic, emotional, and aesthetic weight of home improvement decisions, the author aims to help readers create not only a renewed physical space, but also a rejuvenated approach to life. West writes in a soothing, enthusiastic prose style that’s more reminiscent of a self-help book than an interior design manual: “it’s important to figure out just ‘who’ it is you are living with. Unfortunately, many of us are living with bullies that keep us in a state of stress and prevent us from living an abundant life.” The chapters are full of questionnaires that will help readers to discover their deeper motivations. In one section, for instance, readers must list each item in a room, identifying who chose it, when it was last used, and the emotions that they associate with it. Decorative decisions are also analyzed; bare walls, the author says, might mean “a lack of commitment to this place, this life, these relationships.” Some may find the book’s amateur psychology a bit facile, but its underlying message is a useful one. The author offers readers a good opportunity to slow down, regroup, and move forward with a better understanding of how their homes relate to their psyches.

A pleasant blend of self-help and home-design theory.