Right-Size Your Home
November 14, 2016
Don't move, but improve — make your home work for you
Know yourself; trust yourself. But if you need a little help along the way, Gale Steves will give you permission to do what you want to do — in your home, that is. The former editor of Home magazine and the author of "Right-Sizing Your Home" has decades of experience in helping people better inhabit their living spaces.
"The book started because I noticed when I was at Home (magazine) that people weren't living fully in their houses," Steves says. "There were rooms they walked through on the way to someplace else, or (rooms that) were totally ignored except at Christmastime. But nobody actually lived in there. I thought there was a challenge ahead to try to encourage people to use their homes — improve, don't move."
Spend 10 minutes speaking with Steves, and you might find yourself describing problem areas in your own home. Spend another minute, and you'll hear some ideas on how to solve the problem — or rather, reimagine the space.
Part of her success is rooted in her vocabulary. That's right — words. It's a two-step process. First, chuck out all of the shoulds. "I should have a dining room. I should have a proper guest room. I should have a half-empty coat closet for visitors' belongings." And then, begin to sort through what you want, whether or not it's on an officially accepted list of home must-haves. If there's not a real term for what you want, coin your own.
"My goal was to encourage people to live more fully," she says. "So get rid of all those terms that the real estate agent used. I encourage people to think broadly: Walk through and reimagine what your home can be. What are your needs?"
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For Steves, that meant converting a guest room into a nap room. Yes, you read that correctly. Her nap room has terrific natural light, an incredibly comfy chaise lounge and the type of ambiance that allows people to lie back, close their eyes and recharge in the middle of the day.
"Even the dog knows it's the nap room; she tested the room straight off," Steves says, laughing.
And it's not just for the people who live in her home. She has friends who drop by and use the nap room, apropos of nothing, and then head on their way, refreshed. Part of its success is the simple elegance of the name — it's a nap room, so go nap in it. But Steves' own ability to make a space comfortable for people to inhabit shouldn't be discounted.
"You can call it whatever you want to because it's yours," she says. "How many people live in their living room or dine in their dining room? I think you should have three or four places in your house that are places where you can eat."
She's serious about the dining room — she doesn't find them sacred, or even necessary, if they're not used comfortably by the family. "If you have teenage children, why not take the dining room table out and put a pool table in?" she asks. "What I'm doing is simply helping you envision a place that is fun."
Steves spent 10 years honing her point of view on living spaces while at Home magazine. She was inspired by the magazine's 4 million readers, many of whom reached out with their challenges and desires.
"When you opened up some of the high-end design magazines, it was all dreams. What I wanted to give people was a little touch of reality of what they could do, something they could make their own," Steves says. "It was about 'doable.' Envision what you can do."
She went on the road and visited readers, and there she discovered a lot of people had the same kind of problem.
"They didn't have the imagination to know what was possible," she says. "I gave them permission to do what they wanted to do."
And she's still doing exactly that.
"Right-Sizing Your Home: How To Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle"
In her easy-to-use book, Gayle Steves shows you how to evaluate — and then reimagine — your living space, make a plan and follow through. Each chapter gently, yet specifically, leads you through the process. Addressing the places where you cook, eat, relax, bathe, sleep, work, clean and store items, the book includes some fairly detailed quizzes for each space in order to create a realistic "self audit" for your needs. It will help you:
1. Create a floor plan and a furniture model, both on paper, of your existing setup.
2. Evaluate how you like to do things. If it's the kitchen, what kind of cook are you? Do you like to entertain, or do you need something geared for speed and efficiency?
3. Discover the art of "re" — rearrange, reclaim, reinvent, renew, rethink, revive, replace, refresh, rediscover.
4. Trust yourself, and create a space that works for you and your family.
For more information or to buy a copy of her book visit right-sizing.com.
Instead of making do with a home that doesn't fit your needs, reimagine your rooms and discover space you never knew you had.
Don't underestimate the help of a friend who can walk through your home with you and help you talk through what you want. Come up with a master plan, and then break it into manageable chunks that work for your timeline.
*Pet tip: Don't forget the pets — they need a space, too.
»by wren bova