Today would have been my 20thwedding anniversary-a goal I never thought on my wedding day that I would have a problem meeting. Yet, here I sit, 3 years divorced. There have been untold tears spilled, and anger to the point that I seriously thought I had smoke coming out of my ears like in the cartoons. At certain moments I wasn’t sure if I would ever make it through the pain. But do you know what saved me? Design. I had just started up my interior/architecture design company months before the hammer dropped, and thank God I had. It gave me a purpose, a focus. It allowed me to put food on the table for my children, and made me interact with others when all I felt like doing was hide under the covers. And eventually, it led me to starting this blog and connecting with other people who have maybe gone through something similar-a breakup, a separation, a divorce. So, this post is for you!
I am a firm believer that your surroundings influence your mood, so if you are struggling because of a painful change in your life, good design can help. And I’m not necessarily talking about selling your house and moving to a new city (although that could work too!). I’m talking about the small changes that you can make in your environment that won’t cost you the moon, but can change your whole world:
Decluttering your house = peace of mind
If you have tons of photos of your ex, your happy times together, your trips, etc. put those away. If you have lots of his/her stuff lying around, gather it all up and store it somewhere or give it back-no need to stare at that all day either. If everything in your home was purchased together, donate those items or sell them. The point is, you are starting a new chapter, and it’s time for where you live to reflect that. It will most definitely be hard to part with many of these items, as the memories associated with them will be painful to let go of for a myriad of reasons. But trust me, the end result will be cathartic and give you a renewed sense of calm and vitality.
Go mattress shopping
Speaking of calm and vitality, make sure that the spaces you spend the most time in give you a sense of peace. For example, your bedroom should be your oasis not a zone of stress. In order to achieve this, the first thing you need to do is get a new bed. I cannot tell you the joy I felt when I designed my own custom storage bed that was exactly right for me. Not for me and someone else, but just for ME. It was a revelation! A brand new mattress on top of that bad boy, and it was like a breath of fresh air in my bedroom. No history, no drama. Just a wonderful comfortable place to rest, meditate, and read my books. You can do the same-go get that new bed that you’ve always dreamt about. You won’t be disappointed.
Color is your friend
I grew up in a house that was almost all white. White sofas, white rugs, white walls. My mom was very modern in her tastes, and I have her to thank for my love of modern design and simple, clean lines. When I got my first place, I mimicked this style almost subconsciously, and spent many years in my white home. However, over the years I’ve discovered that a life without color is no life at all, and the design style in my firm and my home now is a reflection of this belief. It didn’t happen overnight-slowly, splashes of tone and hue started to creep in: a pillow here, a throw there, and maybe that was me changing over the years or just as a result of getting older and knowing better who I am now. Who knows? But whatever it was, by the time the divorce rolled around and I moved into my own place, I was strong enough to go bold (or go home!).
Paint is one of the fastest ways to give your room a big change. So if you’re sitting there thinking that you can’t stand the thought of living alone in the exact same space you formerly shared with someone for one more minute, go grab a paintbrush. I’m serious-painting is very therapeudic, and as soon as you change the color of even one wall, you are making a statement and claiming the space as your own.
Artwork is an act of Strength
If you’ve ever lived with anyone, then you probably know that choosing what to hang on your walls is rarely a walk in the park. Finding something that you can both agree on to eat at night is hard enough, let alone what to display in your entryway for the next 5 years. So one of the great bonuses of becoming single is that you, and only you, get to decide what goes up and what must come down. Since I was living in Hong Kong at the time of my divorce, I was able to spend hours walking through the lanes of the Shenzhen art village, searching for pieces that spoke to me. I loved that I never had to text a photo and say, “What do you think?” or bring something home and have to worry that it wouldn’t be appreciated. There are lots of great online stores with beautiful, original artwork to choose from, so have a look so that you too can transform your space so that it reflects your own personal sense of style.
There is light at the end of the tunnel!
Divorce, or any kind of breakup, is never easy-believe me, I know. Besides my friends, family, my therapist, and the occasional glass of wine (or two), making design changes in my home has been what has helped me to get through even the darkest days. A brightened, home with even the smallest change (like painting a wall when my money was tight) helped me to see that all was not lost. I was once again able to find beauty in my home, and then it started to spill into other areas and slowly but surely change my outlook on life. It can for you too!