Courtney Thomas
June 29, 2018

Home is Your Story: Why This Matters to Me

My NYC apartment was my first grown-up space. The furnishings were minimal and often DIY, but it was clean, quiet and mine. Then, I got a dog. I traded in clean for half-chewed shoes and ransacked trash cans. Quiet got replaced by the crazy-lady-who-talks-to-her-dog and ‘mine’ became ‘ours’. I have transitioned so many times since then. Different homes, different locations. My tribe has grown: husband, kids, family, and friends. My definition of home has grown with it. Like all good stories, my version of “home” can be broken down into Who, What, When, Where and How:

  1. The Who: These are the people and pets who share your space, physical and headspace.  As many buttons as they push, we will prioritize them over and over again. Most of our decisions will be because of them. They are the most important part of our stories and our homes.

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2. The What:  This is the narrative in our heads. It is our mindset and our attitude towards life. Keeping it positive is an on-going practice. All the demands, responsibilities and priorities of family, jobs, engaging with the world, requires that we drew from the wells of mindfulness and empathy which seem always in short supply. The “What” is the commitment we make to being human, to forgiving ourselves, letting go of the things we cannot control, fixing the things we can and to having a sense of humor about it all. 

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3. The When: Timing is important. Where are you in your story? Are you just starting out? Do you have a young family? An older family? Are you retiring? The “When” is the timing that changes what we need from our homes and how we need them to function. It also changes our perspective on what and how much we need: 

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4. The How: I think of this as the Budget. The “How” makes us reconcile our wishlist with our financial ability.

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5. The Where: This is the setting, the physical home. Your setting should be the one place where you feel safe to express the way you live and inspired to live it. It should reflect the way you connect with others and the experiences that are meaningful to you.

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As a designer, I touch only a small part of the equation. Home is so much more than the setting or the design. I really struggled with this idea as an Interior Designer. I felt that loving pretty things, wanting my home to be well-dressed would mean I was perpetuating vanity and as Brene Brown said  “the dance we do so that people don’t see how incredibly flawed and human we are.” It forced me to question whether I could love pretty things without feeling superficial. You can. Parenting helps keep the perspective, so do good friends. Interior Design made me wonder if I could feel authentic having a home that reflects a more put-together version of myself. I’m still waiting to test this, but my experience has been that an immaculate home doesn’t tell the whole picture. Your story is made up of many parts.

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I think back to NYC and that first apartment. Sigh. Everything in its place and everything exactly as I left it when I got home. If my house could speak at this moment in time it would cry “We had such a good thing going! What happened?!” and I would point to the tornado that is four kids and the hubby’s man chair and say “they did”. Any pretense of perfection walked out the door when they walked in. And you know what? I’m okay with that. As perfectly imperfect as it is, I would pick this mess and this circus Every. Single. Time. It’s such a big part of my story. It will change. Just as it has before. But for right now, our home is the epicenter of big feelings and lots of personalities. Yours may be the epicenter of a different chapter. As long as I can channel the Who, What, Where, When and How into an interior design vision, your home and mine will reflect our stories. 

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Courtney Thomas, ASID

Principal & Lead Designer

My job is to make spaces functional in their layout, comfortable in their use, inspirational in their style and luxurious in their appointment. In that order. For that one moment after installation, the pictures are perfect.

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