Surround Yourself With What You Love

"What type of wood do you prefer – light or dark color; light or heavy grain; laminate or lacquer?"

By Barbara Kaplan

You may have received the e-mail quoting George Carlin’s piece titled, “How to Stay Young.”  In it he says, “Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants and hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.”  At the end he adds, “Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

I was moved by that and couldn’t help but think how we have an opportunity to make this happen every day – surrounding ourselves with what we love.  It’s in our home where this comes to life for us to express. Once we decide what makes us happy, we can make it happen.  Our home is the only place in which we have that kind of control.

The things we allow into our homes, our most personal spaces, are intimate and revealing. They give us the opportunity to feel alive. These are the possessions that speak to us consciously and unconsciously. This is one of the reasons you hear so much about de-cluttering, which allows us to breathe freely. So many of us live with items that have no meaning to us, yet we hold on to them for reasons we excuse.

When I first meet my clients they often tell me about their ideas of what they think they “should” do.  My tendency is to ask if money were no object and nothing else had to be considered, what “would” you do?  What is your ideal style of living?  Many of us live someone else’s expression because we just haven’t taken the time and thought to find our own.

This opens a whole new world. This change in thinking generally results in a different outcome.  We hold ourselves back from what we really want because we think we can’t have it; however, when we talk it out, things change.  This leads us into a new way of thinking – it gives us the opportunity to think outside the box.  And when you do, amazing things can happen.

As an example, a client came to me not knowing how she wanted her new home to be decorated.  She was feeling overwhelmed by all the decisions she had to make, knowing she had to live with her choices for a long time.

She wasn’t sure what she wanted to live with.  I encouraged her to only make decisions that were essential to moving into the house and wait several months until she was ready to decide how to move forward.  After all, her new environment would be filled with things she hadn’t experienced before.

Next we discussed the things she was sure about – the things that would satisfy her senses.  I asked her:

  • What colors are you attracted to?  Think about what you like and don’t like.
  • What furniture styles do you enjoy – French, Tuscan, contemporary, etc.?
  • What type of wood do you prefer – light or dark color; light or heavy grain; laminate or lacquer?
  • What metals and finishes do you prefer – chrome or brass, shiny or matte?
  • What kind of window coverings, serve your needs?
  • What floor surfaces do you prefer – hard or soft?
  • What sounds are important to you – bubbling water from a fountain or music?
  • What variety of textures do you desire in fabrics?

These details are the ones that help you feel your spirit in your home, your refuge.  When you do, you’ll create an environment that takes your breath away.

And always remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

To find more answers and discover how you can create this for yourself, go to my website or Facebook page and read all about it. There is also a Color & Design Quiz you can take that gives 12 pages of results to help you find your design style and preferences.

Barbara Kaplan, IFDA, Allied Member ASID, “Interior” Designer – Color Consultant – Lifestyle Behaviorist. Barbara invites you to join her for weekly tours to local design destinations. Best of all it’s free and you will receive savings on purchasing. Visit or contact Barbara by e-mail at

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