Being surrounded by your past may not always be the best solution to move forward from the pain and trauma of divorce. “We” to “Me” is a process. When it comes to design, whether you stay in the marital home or find a new living space, a new design can help you feel alive and move you past your divorce, provide comfort and motivate you to rediscover yourself and inner passions.

It’s an opportunity to have a new beginning. Your divorce is the end of one era but marks the beginning of a new one. In order to be successful in creating your new home and making this delicate transition, it is imperative that you select a designer who understands your needs during this time. A designer, who is not just a creative visionary but, a trusted advisor, confident and agent of change.

Change after your divorce is one you simultaneously fear as well as desire.

Being happy with your own company and enjoying it should be part of what your new home encourages. One of the concepts you are going to struggle with, is the understanding that you have not lost “your home” in your divorce but “A home”. It is up to you to build your new one just the way you envision it.

In order to do this you need to internalize the fact that home is more than the place where you sleep. It is the place that you choose as the center of your life, where you are going to energize, create, dream, rest and entertain friends, enjoy your kids and bring that special someone to enjoy the beauty of sharing a space that defines who you are.

After all, your home is a reflection of who you are and what you want others to see about you. As you emerge from your divorce you will find that it is the key ingredient in your life, the foundation of your day to day existence, and it should support you. There are so many elements in design that really can lift your spirits and help to bring you to a place that you are excited about.

The two most common mistakes one makes in planning one’s designer home is not hiring a professional and not having a plan. One needs a captain and a map, to know both where and how to proceed.

What people don’t realize or perhaps understand is that design is NOT about buying furniture and getting the biggest discounts. Rather, good design is about buying the right furniture to fit within a proper context. The false sense of confidence given by some design magazines and shows, leads people to believe they can design by themselves, without realizing that imagination and chic style is one part of the exercise.

Similar to putting on an outfit that “feels like you” changes how you interact, speak, and carry yourself, and that in turn changes how others treat you. The same is true for living in an environment that ‘feels’ like you. After a divorce you want to wake up each day to a space that says you are successful, capable, healthy and happy.

If you’re on a tighter budget and embarking on a new design project without a designer after divorce, a way to save money is by investing in a consultation. A designer can give pointers as to how to proceed without necessarily having to do the whole project. Designing rooms and selecting furniture is a difficult process with multiple decisions needing to be made.

Life after divorce in Ontario is confusing enough. Often the divorcee needs some guidance, someone to help filter out some of the important decisions. If the designer can do a floor plan so that the client can implement in phases with a goal in mind, then the divorcee will have, at least, some solid direction. Maybe to start, update or renovate a bedroom that helps you focus on the possibility of new love rather than the loss of an old one. Refresh your living room so that it is ready for grown-up parties as maybe the kids have left the nest. You should feel as great wakening up to your bedroom as you do slipping on your most comfortable jeans.

You should feel as successful in your home office as you do in your most fashionable work clothes. You should feel as fabulous in your bathroom as you do in your favorite evening attire. Your home should support your goals and good habits and challenge you to live the life you want to live. It should never sabotage your goals, keeping you stuck in past failures and heavy histories. Moving on from your divorce emotionally is not enough. You must make physical changes as well to propel you into this next phase of life.

A great exercise and often an initial challenge for someone just divorced or in the process of one is to make a wish list – a personal one, something that you probably haven’t thought about for a long time. It’s important that when you do this exercise, that you remove yourself from the space/home being considered.

This is so you can be as objective as possible, coming up with ideas or wants you didn’t necessarily think possible in your previous or existing home. It is basically a list of phrases, words, or sentences that encapsulate your ideal living environment. In addition, it’s a great idea to then go through magazines, cutting out pages of entire settings or particular items; any image that will give the designer a better idea of your “wish list.”

Both these exercises sound simple, but truly are not as you are forced to think about and envision a lifestyle after your divorce that you never thought possible…. Once, the lists and pictures are submitted, it is reviewed so the prioritizing can commence in terms of design and budget. Once a budget is set and basic ideas confirmed, the design process begins and the designer can start the drawing board and create the floor plan, style design, color palette and various finishes to create your special look.

The MOST IMPORTANT part of this exercise is THE FLOOR PLAN. It sets the feeling and flow for the entire home. Without a plan, rooms are stagnant and don’t relate well to the whole. Why is this important to a divorced person? Because the last thing needed is more chaos, and the most important thing you need right now is harmony!

A great floor plan exhibits harmony, balance and proportion. It flows, and in doing so, makes the individual walking and living in the space feel really good about themselves. Once the floor plan is secure, the furniture is then selected to create a seamless integration between the outer walls and the inner furnishings.

The process is an education. Design is not just about good taste or pretty colors, though these aspects factor into the selections. It’s much about balance, order, and symmetry and the overall harmony a space exudes. It’s very important, especially during divorce when emotions are running rampant, that a home FEEL right, in addition to looking right!

“Less is More” is often the philosophy when buying new things. They should be more intelligent purchases predicated on their harmonizing with the whole. Pieces should be selected to fit into an overall scheme. No more piecemeal selections that may or may not fit based on immediate gratification.

Rather, items should be bought for their inherent participation into the scheme as a whole and within the budget. As far as bringing an item of furniture, art or any piece from the past home that you love or to which you feel a special connection, the designer would analyze how it works into the greater design and try to make it work to create a new meaning. You learn to understand that, in the end, buying or using items that are not proportionally correct, the whole suffers, including the feelings they derive in living in the space.

Color is another element that affects one’s disposition, divorced or not. What is different, when one is divorced, is that the issues surrounding the selection of color are exacerbated. Remember, that at this time, emotions are running high and color evokes certain subconscious responses that are not particularly intelligible. For example, we know we like a colour, we are in tune with it, but we don’t necessarily understand why. Often times, an association with colour is closely linked to past experiences. Thus, if we had a green room when very young and our childhood was not very endearing, our association with that color would not be favorable. Having said that and putting these personal experiences aside, there are certain colors that are conducive to serenity, peace, harmony, and whatever other feeling one wants evoked. In addition, some color hues are more light reflective than others, therefore creating brighter, more cheerful auras.
Calm, harmony, serenity are the bywords often describing what the divorcee wants and needs. Soft blues, greens, whites, soft yellows are among these colours. And, very essential to the selection of colour is its placement. Where is it going? Does light shine on the wall during the day, during the night, etc.

Designers are like storytellers only we use fabrics, architectural elements and furniture to tell a clients story. You are building your new life after your divorce so there are a lot of things to say to yourself, to your friends, to your kids when they visit you and beyond this to the universe in general.

You are in control of your life.
Love it and give yourself a chance to create it.

Dawn Chapnick Designs

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