Just Because You Can Doesn't Mean You Should

Should it stay, or should it go? Money will always be part of a decision, but separating out that decisions, from the memories it evokes adds perspective.

Cleaning out some closets last week, advice I have often given to clients was ringing in my own ears:

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

Certainly sage advice when it comes to things like that last slice of pizza, or that late movie on a weeknight, but harder to embrace when contemplating keeping things of sentimental value, or incorporating things whose attraction is marginal into a new project.

Came across the outfit I was wearing the night Doug and I announced our engagement to his family. This photo was taken in his mom's kitchen, in the house on Sparkle Lake. Thanks to my sister in law's having her camera handy-the outfit reminded me of one of the best days of my life. Funny, just never found myself reaching for it the rest of that summer...then packed it away.

After a few summers of this unpacking, not wearing, then packing the outfit up again, I noticed it didn't quite fit anymore, so another 'keeping' rationale was added-motivation for 'when I could wear it again'.  Fast forward to last year when some lifestyle changes got me back to that magic place...the body size, that is. The outfit itself was so out of place for so many reasons:  a print not in my colors, or my taste anymore. But I kept it this summer anyway. Any of this starting to sound familiar?

When we find ourselves stuck, unable to move forward, it's often because old rationale doesn't serve the here and now. "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" is one way I guide clients to develop critical thinking about their project-determining values, and making their own best decisions about keeping, letting go, and spending money. 

Experiencing the beginnings of economic stability, choosing to keep and work with something we own is an understandable first reaction. OR-the opportunity to finally accomplish something we've been unable to up to now can be irresistible.

But I urge clients to think big-picture: Will your actions align-or conflict-with your  your current needs, goals, or circumstances? And, when the project is completed, will you be happy for the money you've spent? In thirty-two years of working with people in their homes, I've never seen guilt a.k.a. SHOULD-work out to be a good rationale.

Often I'll see clients who've never been happy with the colors or layout of their living room drift into 'decorating' mode when we start planning how to prepare their house for sale-making way too personal choices for colors or updates.  Or those who've had to postpone changes-start to make choices based on 'should'. TRH finds separating out the decision of what to do with something from the memories it evokes adds perspective. That I could now fit into the outfit did not make me like it, or want to wear it...but that didn't negate the memory of the day, or my choice of life partner, either (19 years in April!!).

Home is a personal place, and emotion, as well as dollars and cents all figure into the decision process...in what proportion is unique to each of us. Helping you come to your own best decisions is one of the most rewarding parts  of what I do.

NEXT : Some ideas for easing the process, and (maybe) a COLOR photo of the outfit!!  

Marie Graham is an Interior Decorator, an Accredited Home Stager, creator and owner of The Refreshed Home. Specializing in getting you to your best decisions about your space, and your things, she can be reached directly at 914.607.2895, or marie@therefreshedhome.com

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