Finding more with less: When is enough enough?

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • November 4, 2017

It’s an astounding figure: The average home contains 300,000 items.

Tropical leaves in this simple arrangement with a few favorite accessories, set the tone for a less cluttered home without sacrificing your decor. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

Tropical leaves in this simple arrangement with a few favorite accessories, set the tone for a less cluttered home without sacrificing your decor. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs.

Although everyone is shocked at this number, no one really argues with it.  Let it settle in for a moment. The bottom line: we have too much stuff.

We read a lot about living a minimalist life. You can call it downsizing. Decluttering. Living with less. Intentional living. And other terms that are just part of the solution. But what it comes down to is letting go of what is not necessary.

Color changes everything when it comes to a more minimalist decorating style. Shift into neutral by using white as a blank canvas for art and furnishings. Walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Pink Damask in eggshell (OC-72) and ceiling and trim in semi-gloss Chantilly Lace in (OC-65).

Color changes everything when it comes to a more minimalist decorating style. Shift into neutral by using white as a blank canvas for art and furnishings. Walls are in Benjamin Moore’s Pink Damask in eggshell (OC-72) and ceiling and trim in semi-gloss Chantilly Lace in (OC-65).

If you feel like your home has become a storage unit for items that you don’t even like anymore, can’t remember where they came from and the problem seems to be getting worse, it may be time for an evaluation of what you are doing. In other words: time to stop the madness.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I work with many homeowners who ask for help in deciding what stays and what goes before redoing their homes.  It’s not an easy decision. That’s why they call in an impartial person without the emotional attachment to their possessions. I consider it working toward designing a simpler life. Gaining more space that allows you to focus on what’s really important.

Where do you start? By looking at what you have and working from there to make careful decisions about purchases. Deciding what no longer serves you. Finding contentment with what you have. Letting go of what you don’t need. Thinking carefully about what you buy.

Amy Michele Hutto, a minimalism consultant, works with clients who want to live a more mindful life that is filled with what makes them happy rather than filled with a lot of stuff. We talk endlessly about this topic and I recently attended one of her seminars: Pursuing a mindful life. Check out some of her tips at www.amymichele.net.

She says that there are many benefits to incorporating a more minimalist approach in our homes. Consciously choosing wiser and having less makes room for what we value most. And she recommends not starting with what you don’t need. Instead, decide purposely to keep those items that you use every day. Once you do this, the items that can go will become apparent.

By gaining some control over what stays and what comes into your home, there are instant results. More free time. Less stress. Less worry about how much you are spending. Mindful spending means more $$$ to do something you love.

When it comes to your home décor, there are many small ways to begin to take a more purposeful approach. Pick a couple and give it a try. I think you will like the result. These suggestions go from easy to a little more difficult. 

  • Clarify your decorating.  Eliminate what you don’t love. Only shop for what you need.

  • Instead of stuff, reevaluate your decorating plan with color. Use soothing whites and creams as neutrals and then accent with bright tones.  Having less does not mean boring. Quite the opposite.
Simple and pretty. Without a lot of fuss, white chairs on white flooring with beautiful walls done in Benjamin Moore’s eggshell Welmaraner  (AF-155). Trim is in semi-gloss Simply White (OC-117). A bowl of lemons provides color on the table. Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

Simple and pretty. Without a lot of fuss, white chairs on white flooring with beautiful walls done in Benjamin Moore’s eggshell Welmaraner  (AF-155). Trim is in semi-gloss Simply White (OC-117). A bowl of lemons provides color on the table. Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

  •  Delete duplicate items. A good place to begin with this one is your kitchen drawers. And then move on to your closet.
  • Get over guilt. When it comes to your home, it’s all about you and not about storing gifts that you never wanted.  The same for antiques and such inherited from well-meaning relatives. If they are not working, say good bye and donate them. Do not let your home become a storage unit for the memories of others.
  • Don’t make anyone else feel guilty. Your kids do not want your stuff so clear out what you have been holding on to for the day when they show up with a truck to clean out your attic or guest room! Do it today and make the space yours.
Less is more with Benjamin Moore’s Paper White (OC-55) matte walls with a red accent in a semi-gloss Ravishing Red (2008-10). All pulled together with the black dining chairs. Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

Less is more with Benjamin Moore’s Paper White (OC-55) matte walls with a red accent in a semi-gloss Ravishing Red (2008-10). All pulled together with the black dining chairs. Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Moore.

  •  We can’t have it all. Check out your collections and ask yourself if they still work for you. There is no harm in admitting that they no longer serve you. That box of tapes that you will likely never play is just taking up space. And you have no obligation to keep every collectible that you have ever purchased. Our tastes change.
  • Ask yourself: is it functional OR do you love it? If the answer is not yes, it’s time to say goodbye. And move on to a more mindful home filled with what is meaningful.

Living more mindfully is not easy. Emotional attachments are the most difficult to eliminate. If saying goodbye to something causes stress, keep it. I will never be able to say goodbye to my grandmother’s china. It is packed away in two boxes and out of sight. But I accept the fact that I just can’t give away all of those memories of family holiday dinners. 

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog

 

At home: finding calm after the storm

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • October 7, 2017

It seemed like the world was stressful enough before Irma. And then she went on her rampage destroying our peace, calm and security. We learned what could happen to our homes and whether you had no damage, a little or a lot, it has left us all a bit wobbly. After all, for 10 straight days we lived in a state of fight or flight. That takes a toll.

Mark the changing of the seasons. Create a fall display with a variety of organic shapes and colors, candle and lantern. Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn.

Mark the changing of the seasons. Create a fall display with a variety of organic shapes and colors, candle and lantern. Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn.

Listening to endless forecasts. Each one worse that the one before it. Do we stay? Do we evacuate? Back and forth for days. It was excruciating either way. And as Floridians who know what to expect, we prepared and prepared and prepared. But there is nothing that can prepare anyone for the emotional impact that anticipated devastation can have. And it will take a while before we regain our balance.

I kept thinking about the framed embroidery scene that my favorite aunt did for me many years ago. It was a beautiful old house with trees and sunshine. The words are: To know how sweet your home can be, go away but keep the key.

We live in a world where we have very little control and our homes are our refuge from the storm. Our sanctuary from all of the noise. They are the space that nourishes our being.  And the thought of losing our space shakes us to our core.

Here we on Oct. 7. Irma is gone and cleanup is underway and will be for a good while. Many in our community are still suffering and those of us who are mostly unscathed are reaching out to try to help. No, we are not okay. But we will be. Meanwhile, we need to nourish and take care of ourselves until a little calm returns. Here are a few ideas.

Do these NOW!

·       Turn off the negative news and social media.

·       Listen to music. It has healing powers.

·       Fall is right around the corner. Take some time to create a beautiful table arrangement to mark the changing of the season.

·       Light candles. Take a hot bath. Use aromatherapy.

·       Hurricanes are dirty. Give your front door a good cleaning and think about painting it a fresh, new color. Maybe something for fall or the holidays.

·       Plant a tree in your yard to mark new life and new beginnings.

·       Open the windows. We are all waiting for that first cool day. As soon as it arrives open the windows and let all of the stale out of your home.

·       Take a yoga class. Get out and go for a long walk in a park or on a beach.

·       Buy fresh flowers and put them in every room in your house.

Small steps to restore calm and peace

This is the perfect time to make a few positive changes that have been on your list for a while. Start with one or two. Let it be fun and positive.

·       Take an inventory of your home (one room at a time).

·       Say goodbye to items that no longer serve you in a positive way or fit your space. Remove anything that is part of the past that you wish to move away from.

·       Items that have been causing stress: maybe the sofa that you dislike because the color has never worked or the bed that is uncomfortable. Replace them now or at least put them on your list.

·       Declutter your office. All the papers on your desk (or maybe on the floor) cause stress. Put them away or at least put all of them in a big file folder to be put away later.

·       Set aside a space in your home where you can find comfort and peace. Maybe a nook for reading with a comfortable chair and lamp. Or a corner where you can create a yoga space with items that provide calm and comfort.

·       Add a Himalayan salt lamp. They generate positive energy and relaxation.

·       Shop for a small fountain that you can have on your lanai or on a table. Someplace close where you can hear the sound of the water.

Uncertain times leave us fearful and feeling empty. What you want in your home may have changed. Priorities have likely shifted. Take some time to reevaluate without judgement. Then, after taking care of yourself, adjust your space to reflect those changes.

By my aunt, Anne Curtis, Newport News, Virginia.

By my aunt, Anne Curtis, Newport News, Virginia.

 

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at spectacularspaces.com. Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail wrenda@spectacularspaces.com. For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit spectacularspaces.com/blog

 

 

What designers know: how they take your home from blah to wow!

What designers know: how they take your home from blah to wow!

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • September 2,  2017

Clients always assume that interior designers have perfect homes.

That somehow we have been blessed with unlimited budgets, endless sources waiting to give us things at cost or less, contractors who do perfect work and always come in on time and under budget.

But in reality, designers and decorators are like everyone else.

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The Pink Home in Giverny: Monet's Best Work

The Pink Home in Giverny: Monet's Best Work

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • August 12,  2017

It was an overcast day with a splash of light rain as I ventured 40 miles from Paris to the small medieval village in northern France.

Giverny.

Where Claude Monet, master of color and interior design, and great impressionist, lived in a cherry pink home with emerald green trim.

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Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • July 8,  2017

In organic architecture … it is quite impossible to consider the building as one thing, its furnishing another and its setting and environment still another.” Frank Lloyd Wright

It was on my bucket list for a long time. A trip to Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s most iconic design. 

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Yellow: a burst of sunshine for your home

Yellow: a burst of sunshine for your home

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • June 3,  2017

If you’ve seen any of the award shows lately, you know that one color has popped up all over the red carpet: yellow. Muted. Cobalt. Sequined. Think about the gowns worn by Viola Davis and Natalie Portman. And there is Bella’s unforgettable gold/yellow ball gown in Beauty and the Beast.

And that means one thing: home interior colors follow fashion so here it comes into your home. For many, it never left.

Because I believe that current color follows what is happening in the world, it’s no surprise that yellow is popping up everywhere. A little yellow may be just what we need right now.

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