Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to be in the Toronto area for work. My return flight allowed a full day to fill before my departure… so I took it upon myself to reconnect with a best friend from high school, who now lives in the area. I was excited to reconnect after so many years, and had my eyes opened to such an interesting stage of life that relates so closely to my career, and I am quickly approaching myself!

We enjoyed our day on the marina, where we sat around with some great people and enjoyed getting to know one another again.  Their boat seemed to have a revolving door, and as friends popped in and out she introduced me, why I was in town, and what I did. Amazing people… and many of them were at a point in their lives where they were downsizing as their kids were going off to find their wings.  The empty nesters were simplifying their lives, so they could be more mobile and open to travel, relaxing, and enjoying what life has to offer.

They were all in the same boat (tee hee) asking me for help and direction with their homes because they were wanting to start fresh.  They planned to bring minimal from their old homes to their new places and they needed guidance.  Where do we start? This was a question they all asked me.

I was excited for them, and this awesome opportunity they have to embrace the next stage and reinvent their homes. A new chapter in life! Up until this stage in life, most of our focus has been on completely different financial priorities… kids and pets! (And they can take quite a toll on our cheque books AND our homes!) Most of our homes are filled with a bit of a mishmash of things that we have accumulated through the years to accommodate our growing families, new pieces here and there that we could slip in to try to make it all work. But, we all wake up one day to an empty nest, and find ourselves staring at each other, alone in a massive house full of stuff.

After all of those busy years of hard work, you have entered the next phase of life, and the exciting opportunity to downsize and start from scratch! This is exciting! Well it is for me (as a designer)… but not necessarily for everyone.  It can be stressful and challenging! Having some kind of direction, theme, or vision is a great starting point.  A colourful palette will create happiness and energy, combined with some classic, subtle choices. From the choices you make from flooring, wall color and finishings – right down to the last picture on your wall, keep this vision in mind and remember that your home tells “YOUR STORY”!

I would encourage you to aim for overall feel and not go too overboard.  Too much is too much.  Make a good foundation with hints of trendy direction.  For example, I know people always assume that because I live on a ranch, and rodeo is a part of my life, that I want western furniture.  Well, I don’t.  There’s no horns on walls, leather tooled yoked furniture, or a wagon wheel coffee table! The personal choices in my home are classic with a touch of rugged simplicity, so in the surroundings of my ranch it has a hint of “ranchy”, but not right in the main furniture pieces. In fact, with a few minor tweaks, most of my main home furniture pieces could even be thrown into a condo on the water and fit in nicely with an ocean nautical feel!

Concentrate on a good, core foundation, and it will give you the opportunity to easily enjoy it for many more great years.  It’s worth the investment in yourself.  Just like a great friendship that starts strong and genuine, when you have a strong foundation you can easily adapt and bring a fresh start in a snap!  It’s as simple as picking up the “PHONE” and call an old friend. Refresh a relationship.  It might just need a fluffing up to make it great again.

So, till next time, it’s That Girl Shannon saying,

“The most valuable thing to me is the relationships.  My most treasured things are the people I have invited to share my life with and the memories I have gathered.”