Aligning Design to your Lifestyle

I am so very guilty of spending years buying “pretty” things for my home and organizing my living space in a way that looks nice. If you are like Elle 1.0 you’re totally thinking “What’s wrong with that?!” Elle 2.0 now intimately knows that form follows function – especially when it comes to interior design and my lifestyle.

Let me set the scene; enter the home of Old Elle for a planned visit and you’d most likely be like “What a thoughtful space!” However, drop-in on a regular ho-hum weekday and you’d witness laundry on the sofa, piles of mail on the entry console, Camille’s toys strewn about and you’d most like be like “WTF! This place is a disaster!” And you’d be right!

I KNOW that when I walk in the door I’m dropping everything as soon as humanly possible so that I can snuggle up with Jo and Cami! It is what it is! After some time of getting tired of searching for my keys in the morning, I decided to develop an aesthetically pleasing system for quickly putting my stuff away when I come home after work.

It took some time for me to realize that my family’s lifestyle is most important when considering a layout that works for us, and I’m wiling to wager that the same is true for you. Adjusting the form to your space is light-years easier than changing the function. Imagine for a second that you’ve renovated and designed a home and you’ve decided that you no longer want a wall separating one space from another. Creating an open-concept space is going to be a lot more challenging than simply changing out accessories. Invest your time and energy in functionality more so than form. Shopping for your space can be so much fun, but exercise some restraint so that you can be more satisfied in the long run.

What’s your flow??

Most people approach designing their homes the wrong way. They find inspiration and start shopping for things that vibe with their desired aesthetic; however, they don’t take a single moment to consider what works for their family’s lifestyle. Aim for a home that is equally efficient and appealing.

If you are looking for ways to align your design to your lifestyle, the first thing that you must do is what I like to call “Diagnosing your flow.” When completing projects, one of the first things I ask is “How do you honestly use this space?” Honestly is the key word here.

I suggest taking one to two weeks where you take note of how you use each room. Maybe your family dining table becomes a desk for completing homework more often than hosting family meals. If your home is like my mother’s your formal dining room is only used during holidays and dinner parties. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider how that space could be utilized for something else. Take stock of how each space is used and also pay attention to where things are normally dumped.

ID what matters

While After you diagnosis your flow, determine what your priorities for the space are. Do you need a space that allows you to cook often? Do you need space to work on hobbies? Does your career require you to work from home? Do you entertain often? My husband and I work a lot from home, so we need ample office space to house both of our projects. Make a list of what it is you need your home to do for your lifestyle. It would make sense to make of list of what you need room-by-room.

Now what?

After you’ve compiled a list of how you need your space to function for you, figure out what could hinder you from achieving your needs. These hindrances could be physical, financial, or human. Most importantly, start brainstorming on how to solve these issues. Making deliberate changes to the functionality of your space is not about spending a crap-ton of money; it’s about thoughtfulness and intentionality. When you rush into a concept because it “looks nice,” you will potentially engage in wasteful spending because you have a lack of direction.

Being more intentional

Intentionality is all about making purposeful and calculated decisions to improve the quality of life. So we’ve talked about functionality, but how exactly does one go about being more intentional with a space?


1. Take advantage of vertical space: Thinking vertically is all about using your space more efficiently. Utilizing vertical wall space can transform a small dwelling into making it seem larger or make it can do the reverse and make a large space seem more cozy. Consider what you need & what from your space and analyze if you can achieve that by utilizing your wall space.


2. Easy traffic flow: Do you basically have to play Twister for your guests to move around in your place? Is it easy to access one point of your place to another without having to navigate around some obstacle? Does your home just feel like a lump of over-sized furniture?? It sounds like you have an issue with your flow. The first thing that I recommend is re-evaluating the scale of your stuff. When assessing the flow of your space, scale is really important. Also, consider the pathways in your home. Are they sensible AND pleasant? If not, then start brainstorming some adjustments!


3. Buy useful furniture: Don’t buy for aesthetics and aesthetics alone. Buy what is needed for your space to operate how you envision your lifestyle in it. Aesthetics are important too, but secondary. You will find something that accomplishes both needs, but know that it will not happen over night. It might take time. I am a sucker for “buying pretty,” but not “buying smart,” which usually results in me buying twice. Learn from my mistakes.


4. Simplify & de-clutter: Strip down what you have to what you need and what brings you joy. It is so easy for spaces to feel “out of whack” when they are overcrowded with things. Research has shown that clutter causes stress. I am also of the firm belief that our dwellings are reflections of what is happening internally. In order to truly be very intentional with your space I think that it is important to reduce the “noise” of what doesn’t matter in your space. It will allow you more clarity, which is always a good thing!


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