Is Downsizing Really Necessary? Or is it New-Sizing?

By Barbara Kaplan ~

Our lives at home have changed recently, and since the beginning of this year we are looking toward our personal spaces to meet our needs in different ways. For many of us, our home has become our place of work, too, as well as our gym, restaurant, movie theater, vacation and so much more! So, for people who have previously wondered if down-sizing is a good idea, they might be torn between leaving their home or making some changes that would give them greater opportunity for a new direction.

I have always been uncomfortable with the term “downsizing.” It has always had a negative connotation for me. It’s really about change and what you want to do with the change. I believe this can be a time in life to begin anew, to reflect on where life has taken you and how we can create a setting to live in that is more suitable — a space that speaks of the changes that have occurred —  and a time to examine what is working and what isn’t.

Many people look forward to downsizing — moving from a larger family home to a smaller, easier-to-manage residence. This usually occurs when people retire or when their children have gone. They suddenly feel that their homes are too large to live in by themselves. Their needs are less, and they don’t want as much responsibility in caring for a home, both inside and outside.

Stop! Don’t rush into any decision. Look around and decide where you would like to live. Picture yourself living in a new neighborhood. Imagine having fewer rooms or less space than you have been accustomed to. Plan how you will arrange your life in the smaller spaces — which furniture and accessory pieces you’d keep and which ones you’d give away or sell.

If, on the other hand, you would rather new-size or right-size, changes can be made to stay in the same house that will give you the experience of a new home. Many believe it is a perfect time to redecorate or just make small changes such as turning a child’s room into an office or exercise room, closet with room for packing for trips or hobby room.

Many need larger areas when their families grow through the marriages of their children and then, of course, grandchildren arrive. When we return to the new normal, there may be more people around the dining room table and more time spent with visits from family. It might even be a time to entertain more and invite old friends to visit so that you’ll need extra bedrooms.

If the living and dining rooms are connected, they can be combined to create a great room for entertaining and watching television. The family room then can become a larger dining room. Using rooms differently may be enough change so that moving isn’t necessary. You might even examine the things you have longed to have in your home, such as a home theater, meditation areas, music room or library.

Often a face lift is all that is needed to give a feeling of newness. New flooring and paint, and rearranging the furniture is enough to create the desired setting. If you want to splurge you can add new cabinets and hardware.

True, this can be a time of starting over. And there are many ways to do this. Most importantly, it is the time to determine what is new for you.

Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is a Phoenix-based Holistic Interior Design consultant and the founder of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for the best of the best Design and Lifestyle Resources. Visit for more information.

Make Sure the Pieces in Your Environment Promote Well-Being

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By Barbara Kaplan ~

Q: I am having a hard time deciding what pieces to keep and what items to “release.” I have many items that have sentimental memories, and yet they aren’t what I would have picked to live with in my current home.

A: Most of us have items in our home that have belonged to others. Because we are affected strongly, either positively or negatively, by our environment, I have helped clients understand how some furniture and accessory pieces, possibly with family history, may have an effect on them. Often though, these pieces are cherished, because of the relationship they have had with the people who gave it to them.

Many people live with pieces that may have been given to them, that they dread having in their homes, yet they feel an obligation to keep them. Sometimes we remember how much these pieces meant to the people who owned them before us and would feel guilty letting go of them, but they may give us feelings of sadness or anger or just nostalgia. These items may even be a burden to keep, because we have no place to put them.

Several years ago, I decided to sell a house full of antiques that had been given to me by my parents, who had been in the antique business in New York. When the shipper came to pick up all the antiques and prepare them for packing to the dealer who bought them, I asked the shipper not to pack anything until the next morning. Being apprehensive, it was important to me to see how I’d feel when I awoke the next day and not see those precious pieces from my parents. Much to my surprise, I had a sense of relief, not to have the lovely antiques I had lived with all my life. I realized that these pieces were my heritage, but not my taste. I am grateful to have had them and now I am able to decorate for me and make my own personal statement in my home.

When decorating your home be aware of how the objects you are placing everywhere make you feel. Do they bring you joy and look beautiful to you? It is a source of happiness and well-being to surround yourself with what you love to see. This way, loving thoughts stimulated by the environment will bring you calmness and serenity where you need it the most. If you feel good in your environment, your family and guests will feel it too. You create your environment and others will respond.

Recently, a friend told me (after reading my book) that she had decided to redecorate her bedroom. She began by getting rid of the pieces she didn’t like. She also told me that she had been totally unaware that those pieces that had belonged to her ex-mother-in-law were causing her stress. Once they were gone, she was relieved not having to see them anymore, and even slept more peacefully.

In his book, “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Letting go of the past means you can enjoy the dream that is happening right now. We don’t need to know or prove anything. Just to be, to take a risk and enjoy your life, is all that matters. Say no when you want to say no, and yes when you want to say yes. You have the right to be you.”

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is tell the person gifting us that we don’t want something. Most importantly, we need to know how we tell this person gently; however, it’s better to tell the truth. Tell them that you know the piece is significant and lovely, yet it does not work in your environment. When the offering doesn’t fit, I have suggested that my clients take pictures of these pieces and put them in an album, or put the gift into storage, use it as a re-gift, sell or donate it.

Follow your heart in these decisions and live with the pieces that give you comfort, confidence and joy. Always remembering, “Rooms and objects have no feelings, YOU do!”

Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is a Phoenix-based Holistic Interior Design consultant and the founder of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for the best of the best Design and Lifestyle Resources. Visit for more information.

Photo: Alina Vilchenko

What Is Bajaro?

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By Barbara Kaplan –

For most people their home is a refuge – a place where they can forget about the outside world. A place that allows them to go within to create healing for the things they cannot control. This is what I refer to as a person’s “sacred space” or “healing environment.” Everyone needs a sanctuary where they feel safe from the outside world and in control of their circumstances.

As we leave our homes and go about our business every day, we have “musts” and “shoulds” to deal with. How we respond to them dictates how we feel. At the end of the day it is our home where we rejuvenate and energize for tomorrow – it’s a place where healing occurs.

You can create your own healing environment with a technique I developed called the Bajaro Method. It is an emotional design process involving your mind, heart and spirit. This three-step approach helps you find the answers for yourself.

Element one is Understanding – which is a learning process all about you. This Element explores your feelings to discover how you want to live in your (outer) environment. Once your mind understands the information you gathered you will be able to create a design plan.

Here are the steps to understanding:

  • Expose yourself to design ideas through magazines and visiting showrooms
  • Dialogue your thoughts and ideas with someone you trust
  • Keep a Journal of your feelings about how you want to live
  • Decide which design ideas belong to you or someone else
  • Determine what you need to live with such as furniture, accessories, etc.
  • Determine what colors make you look and feel good

The second Element is Acceptance – this is the time you accept your design choices. It’s important to believe you deserve everything you have chosen and be willing to spend the time and money necessary to finalizing your plan. Your heart becomes comfortable with the information and you are able to connect with your feelings and the project.

  • Decide what is most and least important to you
  • Prioritize what needs to be done
  • Establish a budget

The last Element is Allowing – having the self-confidence and courage to act upon your plan. Once this happens you can move ahead to let the project develop and grow, knowing that you will be able to fearlessly handle whatever presents itself because it is an expression of who you are. Your spirit is expressed by taking responsibility for completion.

  • Make sure you are at the center of all design decisions
  • Trust your decisions and choices
  • Surround yourself with capable people who will help you through the project
  • Stay focused and don’t let doubt in
  • Use the unexpected as an opportunity for greater creativity

Bajaro helps you make the right decisions – when using this method, you gain the confidence to make decisions based upon your likes and dislikes. Find the pieces of furniture and accessories that attract you in some way. The difficulty of making a decision about a design choice has to do with the fear of making a mistake. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of this piece? Do I think it will look good? Will I use it? Do I like touching it, holding it and seeing it? If what you are attracted to feels right, it is right – and it won’t be a mistake.

Now take yourself shopping knowing that you can’t make a mistake if you are pleasing yourself. Experiment with your environment, to create a signature look that is all your own.

Bajaro is about you!

And always, Remember, Rooms have no feelings, YOU do!

Photo credit: Ani-Bee via / CC BY-NC-ND

Eye-Catching Collectible Displays Bring Personality Into A Room

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By Barbara Kaplan –

Q: My home décor is eclectic. I like the feeling and would like to keep all the fun accents I’ve collected. However, I would like to redecorate so my collections make more of a statement. Should I do it with color, new furniture or lighting? What will give me the quickest, most cost-effective change?

Also, is it possible to blend ethnic art and collectibles?

A: The list of what humans collect is endless. We collect whatever turns us on or what we want to put our energy into collecting.

Perhaps inherited pieces have memories attached.

Or, they might be items we purchased on our travels. Even though others may not understand why we collect certain things, they have meaning and sentiment to us.

Some collections also have value from a financial standpoint, such as art glass, porcelain birds, music boxes and so many more.

Anything you might decide to collect has either a visual, monetary, conceptual or sentimental appeal.

This is an opportunity to use your creativity.

Consider the display space. Find a unifying or contrasting color for the background of the collection. Your background can make a big difference as to the impact of how your collection will be seen.

For example, if most of the pieces are light, the wall behind the collection can be dark. I once placed shelves on a dark fuchsia background for a client who had an extensive Iladro collection.

Conversely, if most of the pieces are dark, use a light or bright color for your background. The contrast of color will make your pieces pop!

If your collection has to be protected from the elements, choose a display cabinet to go with your furnishings. Be sure the shelves are sized to accommodate your pieces. You don’t want to put small pieces to high or large shelves, they will get lost. And keep the surrounding and background color of the cabinet always in mind.

Lighting is important, no matter where or how the collection is displayed. In a display cabinet things are harder to see, so lighting inside the cabinet is essential. If the pieces are exposed, lighting can be directed right on the pieces from track, cable or recess cans.

To make the greatest impact, create an unexpected arrangement or shelf for it. An unusual arrangement and foundation is always intriguing.

When the pieces are “grouped” in an unusual and creative fashion, they also appear more important and impressive.

If grouping on the wall, begin by laying it out on the floor. Move the pieces around so they relate to each other in size, color or shape. If there is a particular theme, such as pictures of boats, you can hang the pictures using little anchors to hold the wire to enhance the theme.

Nothing in your home can say more about you than your collection of chosen objects. It says how you made a decision to devote your time and space.

You are making a statement about your personal preferences. Be sure that when you decide how you want your collection displayed, your decisions come from your heart, because rooms have no feelings, you do!

Photo credit: Douglas Coulter via / CC BY-NC-SA

The Philosophy Of Sexy Interior Design: Sassy – Sensuous – Serene

By Barbara Kaplan – Do you think your home is “sexy”? Sexy interior design is all about attitude. It’s creating a personal space in which you feel alive and tells your story. The room expresses and reflects your way of life.

So often, rooms are designed to look good, and certainly there is nothing wrong with beauty. However, if you are living in a beautiful space that does not express your heart and soul, the beauty only lasts so long until you feel the need for personal comfort and self-expression. The comfort is for your physical body as well as your mental and emotional self. The self-expression is your need to be heard and seen as you truly are.

You don’t want to live in another person’s idea of what looks and feels good. It is a human need to be surrounded in the taste and style that personifies who you are at your deepest level.

When we feel sexy, we feel alive, we feel real and we feel in our power. How wonderful to always feel this way. However, it isn’t always possible. We are in many environments all day long over which we have no control. That is why it is all the more important that we achieve this feeling in our home…our most personal space. It is the only place where we can decide what colors and style we want to live with. When these decisions are made with the people we love, it strengthens our connections and creates a unique look that tells “our” story. It becomes an environment to share and enjoy together.

There are three basic styles of sexy interior design. They are sassy, sensuous and serene. You can carry any one of them throughout your home or combine them to create your own style.

Your entire home doesn’t have to be just one style. Each room can have a different style and feeling to express the different purpose and function of each room and the personality of the person or persons using the space the most.

The three basic styles of sexy interior design are:

  • Sassy – fun, energetic, bold, dramatic, exciting, lively, playful
  • Sensuous – textured, stimulating, sumptuous, luxurious
  • Serene – calm, mellow, relaxed, comfortable, organized

Have fun and play with your own words that describe these three types of design for you. It will get you started thinking about how to create a sexy home designed and personalized to express your personality and interests.

You can also take one or a combination of these styles to interpret and create your own individual look. Decide the amount of each one you want to use. The meaning of your environment affects your attitude and how you express yourself to others. That’s why it’s so important to use your own words and come up with your own meaning. Give your style a name that expresses the way you want to feel in that room and how you want to be seen. Interior design is not a science, it is an art and you are the subject. Create your own portrait in your own home!

Remember, rooms have no feelings, YOU do and creating a sexy home is the best way to feel alive and vibrant in your most personal spaces.

To learn more about Sexy Interior Design and discover how you can create this for yourself, you can attend afree design and decorating workshop. Call Barbara Kaplan for details, call Barbara Kaplan at 480.998.5088.

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. Contact Barbara by e-mail at or visit or

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