Barbara Kaplan is an interior designer specializing in holistic living.

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Our lives at home have changed recently, and since the beginning of this year we are looking toward our personal spaces to meet our needs in different ways. For many of us, our home has become our place of work, too, as well as our gym, restaurant, movie theater, vacation and so much more! So, for people who have previously wondered if down-sizing is a good idea, they might be torn between leaving their home or making some changes that would give them greater opportunity for a new direction.

I have always been uncomfortable with the term “downsizing.” It has always had a negative connotation for me. It’s really about change and what you want to do with the change. I believe this can be a time in life to begin anew, to reflect on where life has taken you and how we can create a setting to live in that is more suitable — a space that speaks of the changes that have occurred —  and a time to examine what is working and what isn’t.

Many people look forward to downsizing — moving from a larger family home to a smaller, easier-to-manage residence. This usually occurs when people retire or when their children have gone. They suddenly feel that their homes are too large to live in by themselves. Their needs are less, and they don’t want as much responsibility in caring for a home, both inside and outside.

Stop! Don’t rush into any decision. Look around and decide where you would like to live. Picture yourself living in a new neighborhood. Imagine having fewer rooms or less space than you have been accustomed to. Plan how you will arrange your life in the smaller spaces — which furniture and accessory pieces you’d keep and which ones you’d give away or sell.

If, on the other hand, you would rather new-size or right-size, changes can be made to stay in the same house that will give you the experience of a new home. Many believe it is a perfect time to redecorate or just make small changes such as turning a child’s room into an office or exercise room, closet with room for packing for trips or hobby room.

Many need larger areas when their families grow through the marriages of their children and then, of course, grandchildren arrive. When we return to the new normal, there may be more people around the dining room table and more time spent with visits from family. It might even be a time to entertain more and invite old friends to visit so that you’ll need extra bedrooms.

If the living and dining rooms are connected, they can be combined to create a great room for entertaining and watching television. The family room then can become a larger dining room. Using rooms differently may be enough change so that moving isn’t necessary. You might even examine the things you have longed to have in your home, such as a home theater, meditation areas, music room or library.

Often a face lift is all that is needed to give a feeling of newness. New flooring and paint, and rearranging the furniture is enough to create the desired setting. If you want to splurge you can add new cabinets and hardware.

True, this can be a time of starting over. And there are many ways to do this. Most importantly, it is the time to determine what is new for you.

Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!


Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is a Phoenix-based Holistic Interior Design consultant and the founder of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for the best of the best Design and Lifestyle Resources. Visit barbaraspicks.com for more information.

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