Once you've identified your least favorite part of your least favorite area of your home, print out this worksheet. Use it to list three adjectives that describe your less than delighted assessment of it. For example, your kitchen might be "disorganized," "cluttered," and "crowded." Perhaps a corner of your family room is "stark," "unremarkable," and "boring." Write your adjectives below. Then list an antonym for each one. For instance, an obvious antonym for disorganized is organized. For boring, you might use exciting.
1. _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
2. _____________________ _____________________ _____________________
3. _____________________ _____________________ _____________________

Now think of objects that (1) could be described by your antonyms, and (2) would suit the space. When I consider kitchen items that fit the word organized, drawer dividers and ceiling-hung cookware racks come to mind. If the antonym for a stark family room is comforting, I think of big pillows and homey wallpaper.

This will help you to detach from the unpleasant space and focus your attention on the objects, colors, and lighting you'll use to transform the room into a mood mecca. We get stuck in decorating ruts because, once we get used to a space, it's hard to imagine it being much different. The way to unstick yourself is to think of items that correspond to the antonyms on your list, rather than focusing on the space you dislike. Bring in one thing that makes you happy, and you'll think of ways you can complement that object.

If you can't figure out the answer on your own, hire professional help or ask an arty friend for advice. Show that person your list of adjectives and antonyms. Say something like, "To me, this space feels cramped, stuffy, and fuddy-duddy. I want it to feel open, airy, and hip." This specificity will give your advisor the best shot at creating a solution that will have just the right effect on your mood.

Transforming one area of your home from an emotional downer to a source of uplift has a double benefit: It cheers you up and reminds you of your capacity to create places that shelter you emotionally as well as physically. It also gets you ready to work the same magic on the next most unsettling area. By recognizing and embracing your power to change one small space at a time, you can use your gut, heart, and brain to make sure your home takes you further toward happiness and satisfaction.


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