Your Space Matters!

tulips in potteryWhen life gets a little too busy, it’s easy to neglect the small things.  At first no one really notices the small things left undone.  You know…the door that needs painted, the wallpaper peeling in the bathroom, the worn pillows, or the cluttered desk.

But as the paperwork and closets are ignored, and broken items stay broken, a growing chaos becomes evident.  Does this ever happen to you?





my cluttered officeHas your office ever been this cluttered?  Some days I’d rather work in another space to avoid it.

Suddenly the chaos around you starts to affect the way you feel inside.  Maybe you recognize this.  Maybe you don’t.  But suddenly the outer chaos becomes inner chaos, and you feel edgy and fragmented.




I am a firm believer that Your Space Matters, and that how you live affects the way you show up in the world.


kitchen chaosMy sad, cluttered kitchen…and this is MUCH better than it looked last night! Feeling very fragmented in this mess, and not sure what to tackle first.

Has your kitchen ever been so cluttered that you can’t find the car keys?  You’re frustrated, irritable, and maybe even panicked about being late for the meeting.  Your day has started off on the wrong foot, and you find yourself snapping at people along the way.

Have you ever walked into a room in your home that just feels “off”?  You can’t pinpoint why you feel this way…you just do.  So you spend as little time as possible there, or even avoid it all together.

Your Space Matters:  One of my clients hated her outdated, ugly kitchen so much that she never wanted to walk into it.  Now that the space is bright and shiny and new, she loves spending time there with friends and family.

Your Space Matters:  Another client always preferred working away from her home office.  She began to notice that she was avoiding going back to the office to work, staying away longer and longer.  When she finally realized that she hated the lack of color in her office, she took the first step with a quick coat of paint in a color that made her happy.  With a few more tweaks to the space…big changes! Her time in the office is now productive and energetic.


The Smallest Step


Your Design Homework: 

  1. This first small step in the process is to ask yourself if your home is a place that you can retreat to. Does it nurture you and make you feel comfortable?  If it doesn’t, then what is your vision?
  2. Is there a room in your home that needs a little TLC? Projects unfinished?  Make a list, focus on completing ONE THING at a time, and then see how it affects your mood.

3 Signs You’re Resisting Change to Your Home

Time for Change - Red Word on White Desktop Calendar Isolated on Gray Background.Every once in a while a someone will contact me for a design consultation. When I get to their home and they show me around, I suddenly begin to realize that the main issue is they are resisting change to their home.

Sometimes they know a change is needed because their grown children have been telling them they’re still living in the 80’s. And sometimes their spouse wants to make the change, but they just haven’t been able to wrap their head around it yet.
This week I realized that anyone can have a fear of change…even a child who isn’t quite ready to give up the only room she’s ever known. You see, my new “clients” are my daughter and granddaughter. And the life change that is prompting this decorating project is a new baby sister.

As I was talking with my granddaughter, I could sense some resistance to the changes that we’re planning to her room. And it made me think about other clients who’ve expressed these same doubts, openly and in the ways they react to my suggestions. Here are the 3 Signs You’re Resisting Change. Do you see yourself on this list?
1. You can’t seem to part with anything – clutter and collections

We all know about hoarders. They buy almost anything and everything whether they need it or not. Their need is to buy. But when change is hard for you, everything you have is special. Giving away, paring it down, or selling something to make room for another is painful. Sometimes clients will have a room that no one is allowed to go into because it’s so crowded with things they can’t bear to part with. Do you have a room like that in your house? My aunt did, and we called it the “scary room”.

Sammie 3


2. You worry about how you’ll get used to it…before it’s even started

Before the kitchen design is finished, you might be worrying about how you’ll get used to the dishwasher on a different side of the sink. Or you worry about how the new space plan will affect your cooking habits. So you make no decision because you can’t even imagine what it would be like.

Sammie 2

And some people can’t imagine a room without the things that they love…Bambi, flowers, and PINK!

3. You stay where you are and complain about the space where you live

Imagine pushing the gas pedal at the same time that you’re pressing the brakes. What happens to the car? That’s right! It goes nowhere!!!

You say that you want to change things, to update, and to make things new. But by not making the decision to move forward, you’re sending mixed messages out into the world. And that creates confusion and stress. Often by saying “I’m too busy” or “I can’t afford it” we just use that as an excuse to not face our fear of change.
So how can we work around this? How can change become less stressful and more about the fun and excitement of moving on? And how can you get your child or your spouse on board for these changes that you’re so ready to make?

Look for stylish and cute containers to store things


Design storage into your space. If you’re a collector, make sure that there are lots of shelves for your “stuff”…that’s what I’m working on at my house.
For de-cluttering, make a “keep” pile, a “get rid of” pile, and a “maybe” pile. Some organizers will tell you to get rid of anything you haven’t worn or used in the last 6 months.
Make a “things I need to change” list. Order it by priority and do the one thing on the list that is the most important to you. It might be as easy as taking down the 80’s wallpaper that is peeling off the wall. Or it might be something major like taking down a wall so you can see into another room while you’re cooking. But find the one thing that will make you happy and also be the easiest for you to adjust to.

Balsley opening

Do one thing on your list at a time so that you can get used to the change. Make one decision at a time.
Visualize yourself in your new space every day. Maybe that means having a copy of your design perspectives hanging at your desk. Maybe creating an idea book on Houzz of all the beautiful new things you’ll be including in your new space. Or maybe making a vision board of what your dream space will look like will fill you with excitement.


Start with subtle changes and get used to that first.   Try painting two shades darker than the white that you have now. Or maybe use a different shade of the same color family.  This seems to be the way to make my granddaughter happy.  And a way to finally retire the “bubble gum” pink…and Bambi!


From Chaos To Christmas In a Downsized Home

At our house the season officially begins on Thanksgiving Day when the local radio station begins playing Christmas music 24 hours a day.  And Christmas music is exactly what I need to begin the big task of sifting through the chaos and clutter to decorate my downsized house!

Over the years, our decorations have changed in color and content.  Our tiny collection of tree ornamentsand manger scene have somehow evolved into boxes and boxes of items that need to be stored…somewhere!  This was easy to do when our girls were growing up and our house was much larger.  A room underneath the stairs was perfectly packed each year by my husband, Tom.

Now, two downsized houses later, the decorations are safely tucked away in an off-site storage shed.  And so, it’s off to the shed I go to bring everything home for a few weeks of Christmas bliss!

Three trips later, boxes are unpacked, everything is laid out for viewing, it’s beginning to look a little chaotic, and I’m feeling a little on edge.  In this downsized house we live in now, space is very limited, and moving furniture is out of the question.

I must admit that I’ve grown accustomed to having less accessories on display.  A clean, uncluttered look is what I’ve grown to love, with the sense of calm that comes when you enter each room.

So with this in mind, I’ve learned a few things about myself and the way I need to decorate for Christmas in this smaller space.

1.  Know your tolerance level.  If you do 90% of the decorating yourself, don’t take on more than you can handle…even if family members beg for more!

christmas decorations

2.  Hire someone to help you with the “tough stuff”. You love the railings wrapped with greenery, berries, bows, and ornaments.  You and your family place a lot of value in that look, but you just go crazy doing it all alone.


3.  Set new decorating traditions.  Smaller homes mean less space to decorate.  Shake it up a little with some new decorations, or a new location for your collectibles.  Stop decorating the railing for a year.  Re-evaluate what you put out and where you put it.  And remember, if you bring in something new, you MUST take something away !


4.  Decide where to and how to display your Christmas collectibles.  Less space to display might be a sign that it’s time to retire the Dickens Village that used to take over your entire formal living roomchristmas wreaths!


5.  Learn when to stop! I know that it’s so easy to keep going.  Believe me when I say that I’ve been there.  You want this house to look as beautiful as your last house.  And you think your kids would be so disappointed.


But sometimes you just have to say ENOUGH and realize you would rather be calm and peaceful in an uncluttered space.  When the excess decorations are packed up and passed on to the next generation to cherish and enjoy, then you can truly enjoy Christmas in your downsized home.

MORE PROSPERITY and my Feng Shui Adventure

Continuing my adventure, the first order of business was to clean my corner.  Since most of the Prosperity corner falls on my porch where I have lots of plants, one look at the floor told me that the pile of fallen dead leaves had to go!  I know, it’s a bad, lazy habit. But I’m getting better.  I’ve set the intention to keep it clean and throw plucked dead leaves  immediately into the trash!

The remainder of the Prosperity corner is in a small section of my family room.  No dead leaves here, just too many catalogs and magazines.  Fortunately, I’ve already taken care of that during my “27 things in 9 days” project.

Step 2 of the plan is to use the “power tools” of feng shui.  For Prosperity, adding lots of purple is great.  I know that purple would not be the color of choice for most people.  But I’m lucky that this is a sunny area.  I added purple African violets.  The round leaves are also good “power tools”, so double luck for me!  If you truly can’t bring yourself to add purple, other good colors are red, gold, and green – for abundance, wealth, and money.  Since I wanted to make sure I’ve covered everything, I simply included them all!!

It’s important to make your Prosperity corner alive with energy.  So moving objects and moving water are well suited here.  If you have pets, let them move freely here.  If you have a fan, or water fountain, wind chimes or whirligigs, all are welcome here.  I already have a soothing bamboo wind chime on my porch, reminding me of our trips to Bali.  And my dog Baylee loves to sleep there in the warming sun or bark to her doggy buddies below.  There’s no lack of energy here!  But…I’m thinking that a small water fountain would be good to add.  I love the peaceful sound of flowing water in the background.

Adding equal amounts of the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) and items that remind me of wealth wasn’t difficult to do.  I already had wooden tables, candles, plants, a copper bowl and a glass tabletop in the room.  All I needed was the floor plan for our dream lake house, and my “power tools” of feng shui could work their magic!

By the time I got to step 3 of the process, I was feeling lighter.  My corner was clean, organized and energized.  Now I simply needed to add items that make the space reverent, like a king’s throne, a place of honor.  How would I do that?  And then I realized that I had been doing this all along.  My porch is where I go in the morning for quiet reflection, and where we relax at the end of each day with a glass of wine. It’s where we entertain a small group of friends and family on a cool fall evening.  My Prosperity corner is there to remind me of the blessings and abundance that are in my life today, and will continue to flow to me and thru me tomorrow.

PROSPERITY and My Feng Shui Adventure

Since finishing the book Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life, by Karen Rausch Carter, I have been obsessed with eliminating clutter in my home.  This includes the piles of catalogs that accumulate after each trade show and the ones that get mailed to me during the holidays (Yes, I do save them!).

I heard someone on TV mention that a good way to de-clutter is to throw away or give away 27 items a day for 9 days.  Of course, I had to do it!  What a freeing experience.  My junk drawer is no longer junky.  The things I never use have been donated to a favorite charity.  I feel lighter, and more at peace.  My friends will tell you how excited I was each day that I discovered 27 more things that were cluttering my space and my life.

Feung Shui baguaAnd so from that I began my adventure with the Prosperity corner of my house !  The author tells us to place this grid over your main living area to determine each section.  There’s no need to be perfectly accurate because attributes of each will flow into the other.

Prosperity also relates to abundance and blessings.  So this becomes the place in your home that acknowledges what you’ve been blessed with and what you desire to blessed with.  Fill it with family photos, pictures of your dream house, your perfect vacation…

What are the blessings in your life?  What are you grateful for?  What does your abundant life look like?  Our home is the haven that nurtures our families and our soul.  It’s a reflection of who we are and how we like to live.  Follow along with me in the coming days as I methodically feng shui my house, learning as I go, and having fun in the process!