Making Your Home Feel Purposeful

futonA few years ago, I read a piece on feng shui that said if you want to clear your mind and have a better night’s sleep, you need to clear out the clutter from under your bed. I’d always seen the “under the bed” space as ad-hoc storage, but I’ll be darned if I didn’t have a great night’s sleep the night I found other places for all of that stuff.

That little tidbit of advice has been on my mind a lot lately. I live in a home that has been put together primarily out of necessity. For example, because my apartment is small, instead of a proper couch I have an IKEA futon -not because it’s my favorite type of seating apparatus but because when I moved in I needed a place to sit, the futon was all I could afford and it fit in the space. My television stand is a wire rack from Target. My bookshelves are hand me downs and it never bothered me until I agreed to house sit for a friend.

My friend’s apartment is beautiful. It’s not outfitted in overly expensive furniture or decorations but I can tell, as soon as I walk through the front door, that every piece of furniture was chosen carefully and deliberately. His decorative items are precisely placed. I can tell that this is a home with clarity and purpose. It makes mine feel like a sloppy hodgepodge in comparison…and that makes me feel like a sloppy hodgepodge of a person in comparison to his very precise and deliberate self.

It’s funny how stuff that doesn’t seem big like that can affect us, isn’t it? We don’t mind our spaces until we see them compared to another. We don’t even notice our clutter until we see a space that is clean.

Doing Small Things to Create Big Change

This blog has talked before about how beneficial the development of tiny habits can be when you want to make big changes in your life. I thought that it might be interesting to take that same approach to my home and see what happened. Here is my action plan:

De-clutter. I have small scraps and bits stuffed into every available pocket in this apartment. Every day I’m going to tackle one corner of a room in my home and make a point to de-clutter it. Keepsake items will do much better in scrapbooks and memory boxes than stuffed on top of my books or in a junk drawer.

Replace one “meh, good enough” decorative item every month with something new. The first thing I’m doing is donating the old $5 clip desk lamps I’ve been using since college on my desk and headboard and replacing them with piano lamps. Piano lamps can be beautiful and elegant while offer the same focused light for reading and working.

Every three months I’m going to exchange one piece of furniture I have now for something that I’ve found that I love and that will work in the space I have. The first thing to go is going to be that IKEA futon. A pleasantly stuffed loveseat will work just as well and will feel better than the lumpy bargain futon.

The key to my plan is to go slowly. I don’t have the money or the energy to make everything over all at once. And, like the tiny habits post talked about, changes are easier to take when you make them one at a time and in small but sustainable ways. Working on a monthly or quarterly basis will allow me to save up and look for things I truly love.

My apartment may never look as perfect as my friend’s, but it will reflect the me that I want to be and that will feel really good.

[Photo Credit: Barb Crawford]

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2 thoughts on “Making Your Home Feel Purposeful”

  1. Hi Don,

    Thank you for the tips! I just moved into a new place and am hoping to make it intentional, while not spending a lot of money.

    Do you have any suggestions for moving in to a new place? (How to stop clutter before it happens?)
    What do you like to put up on your walls? Are coffee tables necessary, or are they just a good place to put junk mail or hide dirty socks underneath?

    Thanks again,


    1. Hey Brian,

      For me, I just make sure to pause before I buy things. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when moving into a new place. If you can learn to pace yourself, you’ll better the odds that you don’t go overboard.

      For my walls, I like canvas pictures, so I will find deals on pictures I like that are put on canvas using glycee. It looks like it’s a painting but it was done with a printer (from my understanding). This keep the cost low. I also try to think outside the box. I love MC Esher and had a calendar of his a few years ago. I took the large pictures and put them in a frame and hung them. Makes them look nicer than just putting then on the wall as-is.

      As for coffee tables, I like them.

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