Living with authenticity is living in a home which reflects and accepts your true life. Similar to the joy you experience when you are your true self; a home that caters to your life can bring you peace and joy.
I often have people (mostly my friends or neighbors) ask me to help them with their homes. Most of the time, as they hopelessly wrangle their hands in despair at the state of their home, I realize that they are trying to live up to certain ideals of what they think a home should be. Often when someone tells me that they need to move (often to the suburbs); or they want more space; or they need a bigger yard; or they need a bigger kitchen; I realize their discontent stems from them living in a way that doesn’t embrace their authentic life.
Living in an inauthentic home is similar to being around an inauthentic person. They both make your uncomfortable. Countless times I’ve had people say they dislike coming home or they feel restless at home. The solution to living in an authentic home is not simple because you have to be introspective . Most people shy away from this. With our constant distractions by our phones, computer, TV etc. we seek to escape the present instead of revelling in it. However, if we can honestly evaluate our homes (and our lives because one does lead to the other) and make our homes work for us the transformation is quite magical. Most importantly this isn’t expensive and doesn’t require moving, expanding or spending a lot of money. A minimal budget is often sufficient.
The most common issue I’ve realized is uncomfortable furniture. Please throw out those overly stuffed sofas, or the too modern sofa with very little space to sit on. Buy a comfortable, slender couch. There are so many options!
Living in row homes in Philly there is generally no space for a “play room”. I hear people with children incessantly lamenting the lack of space for a play room. I say if you simply can’t designate a room as a “play room” accept it and move on. We don’t have a designated room as a play room and I really don’t understand the need for a play room. Children should be welcome into all the rooms in our homes. I think it is a common misperception of parents that children need toys to play. Children can help cook dinner and play in the kitchen with water, bowls and spoons. They can draw and paint in the dining room. They can read in the living the room…the list is endless. What we need to do is provide them with a home that they can enjoy. I suggest dining tables that can be wiped down, floors like wood or tile that can be easily cleaned and furniture that isn’t too precious . I am not suggesting clearing away all beautiful objects or breakable objects. Children appreciate beauty just as much and most times more than adults. Whenever I buy fresh flowers Kiran and Jai always make a small flower arrangement for their rooms. They haven’t dropped or broken any of their vases.
Another common issue I see is unused space. People often have a guest room that lays empty unless they have guests visiting or formal living rooms they never use. Meanwhile more and more people seem to be finishing their basements and living entirely in their basements! Basements have become living rooms, play rooms, office rooms, and TV rooms. Meanwhile the living room or guest room above ground, often filled with great light and beautiful proportions remains under utilized. I’m biased towards basements: I don’t like to live in them. They are musty and damp and there is nothing that can be done about it. Whether they are new construction homes, or updated basements in old row homes you just can’t get around the fact that they are below grade and have very little light. We can use our guest rooms as office rooms, and living rooms can also be TV rooms or office rooms. I like the small separate rooms in row houses because they are cozy and offer privacy. By keeping the separate rooms we can use each room for various things.
Your home, whether it is grand or small, whether you rent or own, is where you spend your private time. It should envelope you with comfort and joy. Take the time to assess your home and then start your path to living in your authentic home. Dispel any rules that are floating around in your head telling you how you should live. Instead take the time to see and understand what you really need.