B L O G
beautifying, loving, organizing & good things
for your home & life
for your home & life
Last week the Tibetan monks were in Santa Fe at the Int’l Folk Art Museum on Museum Hill. I went to see them creating this intricate, gorgeous mandala out of colored sand. They worked as a team, creating an intricate, colorful masterpiece after just a few days.
How does this apply to decorating your home? I learned three important lessons watching the monks. And all three lessons apply to decorating your home.
LESSON #1: Patience with the process. The first lesson I learned was the extreme patience required to create something beautiful. Day after day the monks would bend over their emerging masterpiece with the patience of Job. A few grains of sand here, a few grains there. Carefully and methodically, patiently they worked. Step by step, the monks trust the process it takes to create.
Beautiful things take patience. Ask any woodworker who makes fine furniture with his/her hands. Something beautiful takes time. Something as simple as repainting a door properly …. It takes a few hours to do it right. There is the necessary prep work. The primer coat. Then the layers of paint, carefully and patiently applied. Trust the process. Maybe you are remodeling or you’re getting frustrated that your project is taking forever. If you have a home improvement project that is taking a long time, King Solomon’s own house took 13 years! (See 1 Kings 7:1) If your place is taking awhile, then remember Solomon. And remember the monks. P-a-t-i-e-n-c-e.
LESSON #2: Take only what you need. When the monks filled their long funnels with the colored sand, I noticed they only took as much sand as they needed at that moment.
Erma Bombeck said, “The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with ONLY a loaf of bread are three billion to one.” The same thing goes for our trips to the home improvement store. We go for one thing and come out with a cart full. Next time you go to the home improvement store, get only what you need. This is a good reminder - don’t buy a 5 gallon bucket of paint if you’re painting a tiny bathroom. Or if you’re staining a small table, maybe a just quart of stain will do the job. Heaven knows we DIYers tend to have too much leftover paint and stain in our garages. Let’s learn from the monks…. take only what we need.
LESSON #3: Some jobs are best left to the experts. Around the corner from where the monks were working, there was a very simplified sand mandala for the visitors to try their hand at making one. Cheerful volunteers coached us as to how to gently fill in the sections with colored sand. I had watched the monks many times and thought, "Pshh, I can do this!" But no matter how carefully I tried to achieve the same result, the little grains of sand would go outside the lines and tumble everywhere except where I intended.
There was no denying – the Tibetan monks were clearly the masters of this art. Here too is another lesson – no matter how easy something may appear, there are some jobs best left to the experts! How does this apply to you? Know when your home improvement projects are best done by an expert. No matter how many times you’ve watched This Old House House, or watched hours of tutorials on YouTube – there is a time to call in the experts.
Decorating lessons learned from the Drepung Loseling Monastery monks:
1) Have patience with the process.
2) Take only what you need.
3) Know some jobs are best left to the experts.
If you want your home to look cleaner, feel fresher, bigger, better…. Three words: LESS is MORE.
TAKE THIS TEST: When you walk into a room in your home, listen to how your heart responds to that room. Does the room lift your spirits? Or do you avert your eyes, because there is too much stuff in there? Do your shelves and surfaces contain objects that are full of meaning to you? Great! If your eyes don’t know where to look because it’s a tchotchke explosion, I would gently encourage you to only keep out a few things that really make your heart sing. LESS IS MORE
LESSONS FROM STAGING HOUSES: I’ve staged many, many homes for sale over the years, and in fact teach how to stage your own home. Whether the property was a cozy 900 sq.’ manufactured home or a generously sized 3K sq.’ home, there is one thing that they ALL had in common. Stuff. Clutter. Tchotchkes. Bric-a-brac. Keepsakes. Trinkets. Whatever it's called, it’s amazing how much stuff we all tend to have in our homes! The longer we’re in a home, it seems every surface becomes jammed, crammed, and stuffed full of knickknacks, dust-catchers and remnants of days gone by. When preparing a house for sale, I’ll have the homeowners pack up at least 50% of their décor. That’s right, at least 50%, and sometimes 75%. Then we keep out only a select few pieces for display. Every single time the clients will say, “Wow – it looks so much better in here!” In fact, I’ve had clients decide NOT to sell their house after all. Why? “We didn’t know this place could look this good. We don’t need a new place...... This feels like a new home!” You too can achieve this sense of euphoria simply by storing the non-essentials out of sight. Viola!
BUT I LOVE MY COLLECTIONS: Please do not misunderstand me. I love collections too. We need to have décor items that have meaning to us – but sometimes we have too much of a good thing going on. Let’s say you collect dolls or action figures. (Yes, they are two of the most collected items.) You don’t just have one or two - you have a collection of 100's! If you have ALL of them on the counters and on top of the kitchen cupboards, on shelves around the great room, spilling out of closets and filling up every surface, you stop seeing them after a while. Unless you have a museum, here is a simple suggestion for you.
EASY 3: If this is you, I would encourage you to go through and choose your favorite three from your collection. And put the rest away for now. A simple grouping of three is more visually stunning. Can you just see that in the middle of your coffee table? Delightful. Or perhaps you could display those three treasured items at eye level on your bookshelf, surrounded by a curated stack of books on either side, essentially framing your three treasures. Keep just those three out for the rest of the month. Every time you walk into the room, you’ll appreciate those three so much more. Next month you can choose a different three to display. Using this method of rotation, displaying only a few at a time, you’ll eventually see all of them. When you have fewer on display, your appreciation for them is far greater. And your place will look amazing. Don't be surprised if your friends ask if you have new furniture, if you redecorated or hired a designer.
FOR MORE INSPIRATION: If you want to take it further and could use some help dejunking and decluttering, I recommend the informative and highly entertaining books “Clutter’s Last Stand” and “For Packrats Only” by Don Aslett. If you’re thinking about downsizing, I recommend the book “Downsizing the Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go” by Marni Jameson. (Hint: the kids don’t want your stuff.)
Whatever you collect – when it comes to displaying your treasures, remember LESS is MORE. You'll feel like you have a new home.
The best part? It costs $0.