Emotions & Design…you never “AGE OUT”

Years ago I wrote a piece in our old printed newsletter about how difficult it was to decorate my new house at Roundfield Farm after going through a difficult period in my marriage.  I was paralyzed in the new house. I couldn’t make one decision, and even though I had the house of my dreams, I was miserable. A year later, I was going through a divorce.  I remember a therapist/customer of ours reading my piece and saying to me “you know, there is a real connection between emotions and our home”.  And, for me, it was absolutely true. My negative emotions were blocking my creativity and my love of design.  Eventually, with time and separation, I began to want to decorate the house and all my decisions started to flow–naturally and joyfully.


Master Bedroom at Roundfield (photo by John Gruen)

Now, I am approaching a different version of the connection between “design and emotion” – AGING!  A friend sent me this article from the Wall Street Journal entitled “Why You Should Redecorate Until You Kick the Bucket”  and it really resonated with me. (unfortunately you’ll need a subscription to read the whole article)

Basically, I liked what the article had to say!  Yes, decorating IS good for you no matter what age you are because our physical space affects our physical and mental well being.

We change, and why shouldn’t we, as we go through different stages of our lives. And, I believe we should redecorate in a way that reflects those changes.

I’ve moved twice in the past seven years…downsized and redecorated…and had fun doing it.  I wasn’t afraid to give things away that I no longer loved or had room for. I wanted more color in my life, and more order with just a little clutter. As Mary Carter Randolph says, I wanted an imperfectly perfect house!

It’s interesting to see the morphing of my design taste.  When I compare what I did in my first move to a small house in Sharon, CT (which I rented).  Joan’s Former Tiny House (blog).  I used more neutral/muted colors…especially for sofas and chairs.

My kitchen dining area in my rented Sharon, CT house.


In my last move to my tiny house in Lakeville, CT…I was bringing in more vivid colors.  Joan’s Final Reveal: A Small House with Big Style



I like changing things up and I tend to move things around at least a few times a year.  For instance, I’ve had four different sofas in 2 years!  Currently, my favorite (below), is the Pippa in Everest Mulberry!


As I sit and write this article, I am looking at a wall of shelves in my tiny den/guest room.  It is filled with my favorite photos of my kids, grandchildren and friends, my favorite books and collections.  It’s what’s left of what’s been given away or stored in a few boxes that I have left to go through in the attic.

My house is always changing — I guess it helps that I’m in the home furnishings business.  But, even if you aren’t, you can move things around, paint new wall colors, get new rugs, get a new chair and do things that make you and your home feel alive.  I don’t want my home to be a “still life” or a place that looks like a time capsule from an earlier era. I’m always seeing possibilities and change, and that is healthy as you age and strive to be relevant in a modern world.

We have had numerous design consults in which we have done exactly this for our clients!  We help them bring new life and energy into their space.  A new dresser, a new stylish and comfy sofa, new pillows and a new paint color on the walls can really make your home feel up-to-date while still feeling comfortable..and will bring joy to your life!  And, in my biased opinion, if you need help, our Hammertown Design Team is the best at doing this, no matter what your age is.

So here’s my advice.  As you age, don’t stand still!  Keep active and vital doing things you love and doing the same with your home.


HERE’S A BIT OF NEWS…look for my Lakeville house next Spring in the May/June issue of This Old House!


1 Comment

  • Lindy Wright says:

    Joan, As always thanks for a thoughtful article. One of my favorite books published in 1995 called House as A Mirror of Self by Clare Cooper Marcus really resonated with me. Now in my seventies I can understand so much more about the different periods in my life marriage, divorce, remarriage. Also as we age comfort takes on a bigger part of our house. No longer is that uncomfortable sofa ok just because it looks wonderful. We just marched ourselves to Hammertown and bought a new one.

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