Image courtesy of John Kasawa / freedigitalphotos.net
Do you ever walk into someone’s home for the first time and experience a really good vibe? Some homes just seem to have an unmistakable air of happiness that greets you at the front door and welcomes you in like a big, warm hug. It can be for a variety of reasons; fresh and clean and bright with colour, or chaotic and lively and piled with clutter.
Either way, the nicest homes to visit are the ones that show signs of life.
I have nothing against minimalism (my own décor is very simple) or against the other extreme of clutter, if it’s clutter that is loved and enjoyed. The homes that we don’t enjoy visiting are the ones where it feels like life has become drab; where the occupants have become complacent or have totally lost control.
I became particularly aware of these different vibes when I worked for a respite care program several years ago. As part of my job I would visit the homes of elderly clients and in most cases I could tell the moment I walked in the door how the visit would go.
Image courtesy of James DeMers / Morguefile.com
In one particular home the woman had limited mobility and used a walking frame to get around. Her husband cared for her and, while they were both very nice, the home held a distinct air of misery. Although it was a lovely sunny day, the windows were heavily curtained, the home was cluttered and the floor was covered with many small mats, all of which made the wife’s movement around the house difficult. I suggested to them that they might put away some mats and rearrange a couple of things to make it easier, but their response was that ‘they were used to it this way.’ I found it quite sad.
At the other end of the scale was an elderly woman who lived in a tiny unit that was one of the most cheerful places I've ever visited. Although the lady had quite significant health issues, she smiled and chatted while I made tea. Her home was bright and airy with simple white furnishings and touches of rainbow colours in all her accessories. One wall was almost completely covered in photos of friends and family and framed artworks from the great-grandchildren. She had a lovely recliner chair with a side table that held a CD player, a pile of magazines and her knitting. Her attitude was that she might as well make life as easy and cheerful as possible and enjoy her last years. What a great attitude.
Image courtesy of jade / Morguefile.com
Both of these homes strongly reflected the character of the occupants, but in very different ways.
So what vibe does your house give out to visitors? Does it reflect happiness and enjoyment or something quite different? Does it look the same as it did twenty years ago? Is there colour and freshness? Signs of life?
Perhaps we should try this little exercise. Step outside the door and re-enter with the eyes of a visitor. What greets us first? Hopefully it’s a big warm hug.