One day a designer I'd long admired came to see the place. Rose Tarlow leans toward understated finishes, soft textures, and quiet colors. Her style is witty, natural, ultrasophisticated, and as I was about to find out, painfully honest. I was proud to give Ms. Tarlow the grand tour, explaining the origins of the many regal pieces as we went. Finally, she spoke. "This house," she said, "has nothing to do with you."

Hey, fair enough. She was entitled to her opinion, no matter how insulting and totally ridiculous it was. She could say whatever she wanted, and it wouldn't get to me because, because...

Okay, it got to me. "Nothing to do with me? I chose every hinge, every piece of furniture in here. I picked the color of the grout! Can you believe this woman said that to me?" I told the story to my friend Maria Shriver while attempting to force a not-that-it-matters kind of smile. We were having lunch at my place with the magnificent hinges and gorgeous grout, and true-blue Maria replied, "Well, I think she's right. It has everything to do with who you thought you were, who you wanted to be, who you might've been at the time, but if it ever was really you, none of this is you anymore. Just look around."

So I did. And I had to admit that Maria and the very blunt Rose, who I later convinced to take me on as a client, were absolutely right. The gilded mirrors, marble urns, the lavish carpets and sherbet palette—it was all very grand, but it wasn't very true to myself. And there you have it: That thing that had been missing from all the beautiful places I'd ever lived in was me!

Over time your sense of self evolves. Hopefully, you grow into a deeper, more thoughtful version of who you are. Your need to please falls away and what is left is the blessed realization that you really don't have anything to prove to anyone. At a certain point, you buy the shoes and pocketbook that feel right, instead of the ones that will impress people. You opt for muted tones that flow from one room to the next, you choose the sofa that makes you want to curl up with a good book on a Sunday afternoon, and create a space that makes your friends stop remarking on the exquisite art and start talking the night away. You let go of the cold stone floors that felt wrong from the start, and at long last you come home to floors made of old oak, floors that feel warm beneath your feet and bring peace and joy with every step forward you take.

Those are exactly the steps I'm taking now. Stay tuned....

See the photos from Oprah's home makeover

Look Inside Oprah's Homes


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