Go to the lowest number on your list. Imagine standing in the designated space, and scan it slowly with your mind's eye. Observe how your mood reacts to different elements of the room. For example, you may dislike your kitchen's drab color but like the fixtures and cabinets. If you have trouble figuring out what bothers you about the space, consider the following categories:
  • Sensory elements are everything you experience physically. Start with the visuals. How do the room's colors, lighting, and patterns make you feel? Touch-elements, such as texture and temperature, are also important; if your fabulous industrial-modern chairs are hard and cold, you'll never be able to fully relax in them. Don't forget the smells and sounds that waft through a space—the fragrance of aromatherapy, the laughter of friends, the quiet that means your children are plotting some outrage.

  • Utility refers to the usefulness of a space. Is it convenient to do whatever you need to do there? A friend bought a zillion-dollar refrigerator, which, it turned out, could be opened only by a strong man, preferably one using explosives. My friend's kitchen was spectacular—and she was miserable in it until she trashed that fridge.

  • Organization is about order and chaos, ranging from absolute precision to the full-on catastrophe of a teenager's bedroom. Nothing is more depressing than clutter run riot—except for antiseptic cleanliness, complete with plastic upholstery covers. Is your space too tidy, or too spartan? Either merits change.

  • Association can charge even a perfect-seeming space with negative emotions. If you decorated your bathroom to please the ex who dumped you, or you slavishly copied your mother's taste until therapy revealed you're absolutely nothing like her, then your home may be dragging you down. Time to redecorate.


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