Happy February! I have to say I'm partial to this much maligned month.
It's short, often bright if cold and fun things seem to happen in February.
I had to laugh on February 1st as my inbox filled with emails and promotions all about love and Valentine's Day.
I'll have a little love treat for you next week but this week is all about the carpet ripping animal inside.
Have you ever wished you could get down and dirty with a sledge hammer, a crowbar and use your muscle to make your home into the one you see in your mind?
I recently had a letter from Rami, a lovely gal who really wants to rip up her carpet, but isn't sure if it's worth it because she's only renting.
GREAT question and one that relates not only to the renters of the world but also the home owners who aren't sure how long they're going to stick around.
Let's go crazy!
I struggle with the conundrum of how much energy to put into my home: it's a rental, it's not permanent. And, my home is terribly important to me.
Other people think it is lovely, but there are things like a crappy carpet I hate, and a general lack of light that I find suffocating (on bad days).
I want to move but we couldn't find something better without a massive increase in cost.
I want to stay but I feel like I can't make the changes that I want to do (rip up the carpet, tear out some walls!).
How's all that for some January ambivalence?
Happy New Year, best wishes to you for the year ahead!
Thank you for this! Two things jumped out at me immediately when I read your letter.
It’s a rental, it’s not permanent.
My home is terribly important to me.
When you're renting, sometimes it feels like there are neon signs everywhere, flashing TEMPORARY. They're on the porch that could use a fresh coat of paint, the 70s pink champagne toilet, the carpet you despise.
You want to do something about it, but you're renting, it's "temporary". Why put in a lot of work when you're just going to move?
This is the thing, the more you treat your home as temporary, the more stuck you feel. You're going to move, but when?
I'm going to get to the point Rami.
As you said above, your home is important to you. This makes what I'm about to say that much more pertinent.
Put in as much effort into your home as you want to JOY in your life.
The more you own your space, the more you put your heart and belly into it, the more you are saying to life that you want MORE.
More creativity, more movement, more beauty, more LIFE.
The more you say YES to your home, the more you say YES to your life.
And if it feels extravagant just pretend you're European.
My sister lives in Berlin, Germany where the relationship to renting is very different. In Germany, home ownership is expensive and rare, so most people rent. Because of this renting culture, it's not unusual for people to totally renovate their apartments.
For example, when my sister moved into her place in Berlin, she ripped up all the carpets and replaced them with hardwood floors. Over the years she got custom made curtains, a built in closet and had the whole place repainted.
My sister is not alone in this. In Germany it's assumed that each new tenant is going to do whatever it takes to make their house feel like home.
Listen to your gut, follow your instincts and rip up that carpet. Yes, you might move, but in the meantime you can live in a house that's truly yours.
This is important so I'm going to repeat it.
This is about listening to your instincts and following through.
You've had an instinct since you moved in to rip up the carpet, but you haven't followed it. What would happen if you did?
Where else in your life are you not listening to your instincts? What would happen if you did?
And when you do, I'll be very curious to see what happens in the rest of your life. Please let me know.
p.s. Can I tell you a secret? After painting my office and moving my furniture around I went from no new clients in three weeks to three new clients in three DAYS. And that was just painting one room. Imagine what could happen if you ripped up a carpet? Imagine if you knocked down walls! The heart boggles.
p.p.s. In my experience landlords are usually pretty happy when you want to improve a place. One landlord was willing to pay for materials if I did the work and the other was happy to do the work if I payed for materials.
What about you? Do you have some carpet that needs ripping up or a wall that needs demolishing?
Paint, scrape, tear, demolish, build, clean, transform. Make it yours. Own it!
A quick note for owners. It can be tempting to redecorate and renovate to make it appealing to the next owners. Do it for you! You don't want to live in someone else's home, you want to live in YOUR home.
I'd love to hear all about your past adventures and future dreams in the comments below and please pass this along to your friend who's always going on about how much she'd love her place, if only...
p.s. If you're reading this and you're not on my list, you should really get yourself on it! I send out a fun and useful email just about every week on clearing clutter and living life. Just pop on over here to get on! All the cool kids are doing it!