What makes a house (or townhouse, condo, apartment) truly feel like “home”– and like your Happy Place? It’s more than just having finally figured out how to work the TV remote. What makes your home feel like your sanctuary is aligning the space and the furnishing with how you really live.
Feng shui is one approach (please let us know if you’d like to read some stories on this technique!), but we’re talking about more of a meat-and-potatoes strategy here. The fact is that as we change, and life changes, our old familiar space may start to feel less comfortable. The reason: our days and nights are different in 2023 than they were in 2000, or 1990, or…well, you get the idea.
Every woman’s life is unique, so only you know what will work for you. But if you find yourself gradually feeling kind of awkward in your own home, ask yourself why. Let’s start with a few questions about your kitchen (not the curls at the base of your lovely neck, we mean the one with the pots and pans):
- How many times a week do I cook (we mean cook, not air-fry)?
- How often do I cook meals for other people?
- Is my place the gathering spot for holidays?
Do your answers surprise you? Again, we won’t judge or generalize. But speaking for some of us, our pad was once the spicy, smokin’, noisy epicenter of cookery and camaraderie, from those romantic midnight dinners for two (Pasta Carbonara, OMG, with plenty of bubbly), to a down-home throw-down for Super Bowl, to festive feasts for every major holiday. Now, maybe not so much. Maybe the old crowd has dispersed. Maybe you’ve downsized. Maybe you are now on your own, and maybe most nights you’re more than content with a salad or Thai takeout.
We know the feeling.
There’s no need to change up your kitchen design if you’re fine with how things are. But in our travels, we find that for many women in mid-life and beyond, the kitchen has gone from being the busiest, bustling-est room in the house to a kinda quiet storehouse of appliances, gadgets, formal settings, and serving ware that rarely see the light of day anymore. In any scenario, the time is always right to simplify your life process and get rid of clutter. Maybe it’s time to clear your space, literally and figuratively, and say bye to some stuff.
AND DIG THIS: there’s even evidence that a cluttered kitchen leads to unhealthy snacking and overeating!
If you want to make better use of the space, how about:
- Absolutely TOSS anything broken or nasty. Cookie sheets, for example. Over the years, stuff bubbles over and bakes to a fossil-hard, indelible, permanent crust. So be it. Cookie sheets are probably the cheapest item in the kitchen aisle, so ditch those ancient, scary ones, and treat yourself to one new one. Same for the crusty muffin-tin.
- Consider releasing items you no longer use. You can sell, donate, lend, or gift. If cooking is no longer a high priority, you may not need those gorgeous copper pans, the Le Creuset coordinates you HAD to have (we understand, really), the fondue set, the ice cream maker, the 7-quart KitchenAid you bought mostly for the color (Pistachio! Feather Pink! Blue Velvet! We understand! We really do!).
- Keep and enjoy only those things that you really use on a daily or weekly basis (pizza stone, espresso maker, blender, or juicer for green smoothies). We guarantee there’s someone in your fam, on your block, in your walking group, in your prayer circle, who will want the good stuff you no longer have a mind to keep.
- Consider the color scheme. If you want to change the vibe of the room, wall color and floor treatment are the obvious places to start. Many kitchens are yellow. Yellow is a happy color, but depending on what you really want to do with the room, consider another hue. Look into wallpaper. Since the room is no longer a hotspot for flying grease, the walls don’t need to be as splatter-resistant.
- Same for flooring: kitchen linoleum always looks like kitchen lino. Today, peel-and-press tiles are available in a zillion finishes and looks.
- Same for those kitchen curtains. Depending on your taste, we suggest shedding gingham checks, calico, and country-ish patterns if you want to truly transform the room.
- Move that kitchen table and chairs outta there, unless you love having them there. There’s no law that says you have to have kitchen seating, by the way. If you usually have your coffee or tea alongside your laptop in your home office or on the dining room table, ask yourself if the duplication is really how you want to use the space.
And Voila! Suddenly, you have space for your yoga mat and weights, or your keyboard and amp, or your easel and paints, loom, pottery wheel, sewing machine– you do you, Boo.
The above are easy fixes, and easy on your pocketbook. Depending upon what you want to do with the converted space, consider bigger changes if you’ve got the budget and the gumption.
- Rip out those huge kitchen cabinets! It’s a major move. But the truth is that many of us live with cabinets that really overpower even a working kitchen. (Overhead racks for suspending pots and pans from the ceiling and a magnetized bar mounted on the wall for knives are far more efficient, and make the room seem more spacious.)
- Removing the cabinets will require refinishing the walls, of course. Then decide what you want on the walls. Maybe awesome art. Maybe bookshelves. Maybe drying racks for your hand-thrown pottery. Maybe a jumbo saltwater fish tank to keep you feeling Irie. Maybe grow plants. Or maybe you want absolutely nothing on the walls, to create a tranquil meditation area.
- Bust out a window and create a bay window and seating space. Again, this is costly, but it might make the room much more versatile.
- Check the lighting. Now’s the time to replace those rusticated sconces with, well, why not a sparkly chandelier or purple firefly lights? Yes, really. Also, if you want more light, period, look into having a skylight installed into the ceiling. It’s even awesome for stargazing.
Once you clear the space, who knows what wonders the Cosmos will gift you with? Please send us photos of your Kitchen Makeover journey to share with our cherished readers! And happy de-cluttering!