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Transitional Decorating

Sometimes, we have to change our homes because something happens that we didn't expect.
A lost job, a bereavement or illness, a divorce......We are left with bits and pieces of what we used to have; the task of sorting through memories, adapting our surroundings and making a new list of things that we never even asked for. It can be very overwhelming.
When we are forced to change, it never feels good, but there are ways to guide us through it.
- Ask for help. If you need to sort through someone else's personal belongings, don't do it alone. The emotional connection may be too difficult. If you are not ready to get rid of anything, and you are not rushed for time, just leave them for now. Stay in touch with friends, journey through your grief, and let them know when you are ready.

- If you are downsizing, try to be realistic about the amount of furniture that you will need. Keep the better quality pieces, and measure your new space (and your furniture) before you move (doors and hallways may be narrower than in your old home). Take a note of your new floor plan, including closets and extra rooms, and try to pack accordingly. Consider a garage sale, or donating to a charity that re-sells/uses the items. Children may find it even more difficult, so let them keep what is really important to them, and store the rest temporarily. This way they can "visit" their things, and make decisions as they get older.
- Blended and divorced families create their own paradox of opposites, ending up with homes that are both over-filled and half-empty. If you are combining two households, try to compromise the sentimental and the practical before moving everything in. It is much easier to do it this way, rather than have 9 people, 6 sofas and 3 refrigerators standing in your living room. An almost-empty home is an opportunity (even though it may not feel that way at the time) to totally please yourself. Don't rush your design decisions. Of course, buy what you need and love, but the space will feel differently when you are alone, and it may take a while for you to adapt. Time will allow you to see what you want, what you must get rid of, and how you want your home to behave.
As someone who has an emotional attachment to almost everything that I own, I write this article holding my breath, but knowing that we are so much more than our things....
If you loved this article, go directly to Wendy's blog for more observations on life, style and decorating.