The title “Interior Decorator” always grinds my gears. You decorate your house for Christmas and Halloween … you design your home to be enjoyed everyday. But even “Interior Designer” doesn’t exactly capture the work I’ve been asked to do many times for clients who are downsizing or helping elderly parents move to smaller homes. This is a challenge of curating a home more so than designing it from scratch.
Trust me when I say that selecting pieces of furniture and art collected over a lifetime to be either saved, given away, donated or dumped is far, far harder than building a home from the ground up. Tell me you have plans for a brand new house and a budget to spend – and I’ll have it designed in a week. Tell me you and your siblings have to go through your parents’ home and select what to take – and we’ll need a bottle of Tito’s and 6 months.
The process of evaluating what to keep and what to let go can be stressful and memory provoking (and not always in a good way). Accumulating things seems to be effortless … while editing that accumulation is gut wrenching.
Curating a life such as it is takes an emotional toll. A desk or chair or vase can become stand-ins for an intense connection to a person, a time or a place. Letting go of that armoire can feel like letting go of a relationship.
Often the angst of parting with an object isn’t necessarily because of some deep love connection to it. In fact, sometimes it represents unresolved issues or negative relationships. That gigantic overly ornate bureau may have belonged to a total jackhole of a grandfather – but throwing it out on the street would require quite a bit of emotional fortitude.
I’m no shrink (though I play one with clients sometimes) but it has occurred to me that we would all be better off if we started curating our lives far earlier and with far greater scrutiny. By more carefully picking and choosing what we bring through our front door … from sofas to mother-in-laws, from nightstands to boyfriends … we could save ourselves from a good bit of work and a whole lot of strife later on.