When I first climbed the stairs to Allison and Chip’s second floor to take a look at that space, I saw four bedrooms. One was clearly the master bedroom. One was Allison’s office. One was being remodeled as a nursery (not addressed in this case study) and the fourth room was a TV room that also functioned as a guest room when needed.
Problems With the Original Arrangement
- The bedroom was L-shaped. We sleep best in square or rectangular rooms. It is very difficult to make L-shaped rooms comfortable and in this case one leg of the L was a clutter collector.
- It was an enclosed second story porch. Because this room was an add-on to the house, it had an impermanent feel. The master bedroom holds the energy of the couple and is where a couple comes to reconnect and enjoy intimacy. I was concerned the energy of impermanence could lead to impermanence in the relationship.
- The bed was placed such that it was impossible for Allison and Chip to have a full view of the door to the room. The quality of our sleep affects the quality of our health. The goal for good health is to be utterly comfortable and feel completely safe when we sleep. Our nervous systems are unable to completely relax when we do not have a full view of the door. We are most comfortable and empowered when we have a solid wall behind us and a full view of the door, when we can see what is coming at us.
- When Allison worked at her desk, her back was to the door. Like the bed, it is optimal for Allison’s desk to be placed so she has a full view of the door. That would put her in the command, or “power” position.
- The sofa was the main focus in the room. Its energy is one of rest and relaxation, not of getting work done. It’s possible that with the sofa being the main focus, Allison could not be as productive as she wanted. She wanted to work and the sofa was encouraging rest. Also, the flat surface of the sofa acted as a clutter magnet.
The TV Room
- This room was cluttered making it a difficult place to relax.
Addressing the Problems
- The most significant problem of the original layout was the location of the master bedroom, so I started there. I wanted to move Allison and Chip’s bed into the original section of the house which had a much more stable energy, and I wanted the bed to be placed against a solid wall with a full view of the door. The only room where those goals could comfortably be accomplished was the one that Allison was using for her office.
- The next question was where to put Allison’s office. With a choice between the L-shaped room and the TV room, I chose the TV room. Since significant activity was to occur at the desk, it warranted a location in the original part of the house. It was also possible to situate Allison’s desk so she had a solid wall behind her and a full view of the door while she worked. The sofa was relegated to a more subordinate position just inside the door where its energy was much less imposing and distracting.
- The TV room was moved to the L-shaped room. Because the function of the TV room was much less significant than the master bedroom and Allison’s office, it made sense to relocate it to the space whose energy was the least stable. To make it possible for TV watchers and guests sleeping on the futon to feel comfortable, I suggested we arrange the room so there would be a solid wall behind the futon and a full view of the door.
Making It Happen
The biggest challenge to making this enormous amount of change happen was convincing Chip the problems were significant enough to warrant the change. Initially he was vehemently opposed to making ANY changes. He wasn’t able to verbalize specific reasons for not wanting the change, but the idea of making those changes clearly made him anxious. I suspected he was resisting the change because he is a person who is very sensitive to energy, though he couldn’t find words to explain his discomfort. Perhaps he dreaded the energetic chaos we would undoubtedly create with changes of this magnitude. His resistance to the change could have been an expression of an unconscious fear of the effect the change could have on his nervous system.
After adequate explanation of the existing problems with the current arrangement and our plan for addressing those problems, Chip agreed to go ahead with the move on one condition: He wanted to paint the new master bedroom before moving the furniture into it. I initially wondered if wanting to paint was a barrier Chip was throwing up to prevent the move from happening while I had the manpower immediately available to help. When he told me he could do it in 45 minutes and had the paint to do it right away, I was relieved and the work began.
We spent about a total of five hours rearranging the rooms. The move not only resulted in much more comfortable living spaces, but it also facilitated the release of bags and bags of trash from the necessary clutter clearing.
Allison’s office became the new master bedroom.
The TV room became Allison’s new office.
The master bedroom became the new TV room.
Looking back on the pictures of our house, it's embarrassing to see what we had accepted as the "comfortable" state of our bedroom, office, and guest room. We focused all of our energy on fixing and decorating the first floor where all of our guests would be entertained, and we just had no more energy or motivation to complete the upstairs living areas. We had tried to rearrange furniture and room functions previously, but it had never made a beneficial impact, and none of the rooms ever got to a state of "completeness."
We had no idea what a wonderful and positive impact Debbie's reorganization would have on our home and on our lives. We were truly amazed at the speed of the changes with Debbie's direction, assistance, and vision. Three disastrous rooms became functional places where we wanted to spend time instead of avoiding them and the work they still required.
There were MANY significant changes across all aspects of my life that could truly be linked back to the reorganization of those three rooms. First, one of the most significant relationship impacts for me came just a few weeks after we reorganized. I was finally able to “let go” of a long term friendship that really wasn’t working. After Debbie came to my house I felt much more free and confident in addressing the relationship with her. I was able to accept it for what it was and realize that I call other people for support. She will always be a part of my life, just not the way she was years ago.
Second, I had a significant job offer. I was approached by the administration about my interest in taking over the Director position of our Early Intervention Program.
I have frequently found myself moving things around to create the “right feel” in each room. Art that was half hidden behind open glass doors was moved to be completely visible and really made the dining room come together. Interestingly, Chip has been bringing home fresh flowers “just because” since the change.
Debbie made a lasting impact on us and our home. We continue to throw out (or recycle) junk mail as soon as it arrives to reduce the amount of paper clutter. Since her visit we cleared out our attic and donated many items we had not used in years. We also placed items that we did keep in clear plastic bins for easier viewing and stacking. We now go through the attic at least twice a year as we are packing away seasonal items to reassess what continues to be used, what are still sentimental items, and what can be passed on, donated, or thrown away.
Thankfully, we gained the skills and confidence to organize and let go of items with Debbie's guidance and instruction. We continue to refer to notes we took, books she recommended, and keep in contact with her. We cannot thank her enough for turning our first house into so much more - a home. We have been so pleased to open our doors and share our home with friends and family. We are now constantly hearing the same phrase, "Your home is so comfortable," and "I always feel comfortable here!"