June 26, 2020

An Interior Designer’s Guide on how to Decorate with Awareness.

Since I’ve started teaching interior design online, my perspective on how we decorate our homes shifted from being “purely esthetic and functional” to having a more “spiritual” approach.

Every day I run over five different fast-track workshops online for students all over the world who wish to start their own Interior Design firm, or even just learn how to redecorate their own space.

Even though students with different cultural backgrounds are connecting live from all over the globe, I realise day by day that we all have one thing in common: everyone seems to have a good idea on how to decorate an apartment, except theirs.

The discomfort and never-ending critique of furniture, accessories, and colors within their own homes seems to be blocking them from moving forward.

I realise by now that all types of mainstream visual art are in crisis: we are decorating our homes by focusing on either beauty or functionality, but we are forgetting to do so with awareness. And awareness can only be found by sharing one’s journey openly and being completely honest about it.

Being a human being in his own personal recovery for years, I don’t shy away from listening when a client opens up about their personal life, background, and current hardships, love, and friend-zoning situations.

Whilst I am aware that I can give my client what they want in the traditional business transaction, I now find it necessary to start questioning things like “why would you put a mirror in every room?” or “why would you want every room fitted with own cleaning storage?” and what about the decision to keep your chunky, old, falling-to-pieces wardrobes you so jealousy took from your nana’s basement and are now just collecting dust in your own garage?

Are we really choosing to redesign our spaces to make them beautiful and useful, or are we actually just compensating because we’re afraid to let things go? Afraid of being seen (or not being seen enough)?

We need to have this discussion. We need to address the problem of collecting too much stuff (or getting rid of too much stuff, if you happen to be on the other side of the spectrum).

When a client is unable to let things go (a cupboard, a tea set, old towels), we should be there to encourage a grieving process that dates way back those objects. When a client insists on furnishing their Central Park view one-bedroom apartment with bulky, Art Nouveau wardrobes, countryside cabinets, and wooden-print floors, we should seriously start questioning the client’s happiness in deciding to move to New York City.

When a client is drawn to a fiery red or a gloomy blue and black color palette, it should be the designer’s role to humanize the client’s approach to life and how can we bring the client to a level where he feels comfortable in setting up a welcoming, yet safe and private entertainment area.

When you send over a contractor to rearrange doors and measurements, and you find that your client has demanded all windows and doors to be rendered “as small and basic as possible,” we should be questioning who, what, or why they are trying to block from entering their apartment.

Getting to the point, every designer should be keen to encourage his/her client to share (within a line of comfort) as much as they can about their personal background.

Our homes—be them temporary or permanent—are our little special worlds. We are finally known and seen for who we are the minute we lay down on our sofas. If you’re asking a professional to redesign your space, you have no choice but to be seen and be willing to be seen.

Healing is a tough job that requires you both a safe space and a space where you can challenge yourself. It’s time to move forward from the stereotypical gauging designers and start creating a new collective of aware space planners who are willing to create safe and stimulating habitats for one’s healing journey.

With awareness, be honest with yourself: What do you really need in your home. And why?


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