It’s been 25 years since my husband and I have moved into our first home. Like so many other young couples at the time, we had so many hopes and dreams for our new place yet very little resources to make those dreams happen. I could have never imagined at the time how beautiful it would turn out, what a soulful space it would become for me and my family, and the amazing personal journey I would undertake to get here.

In 1996 I was a young mom with one small child and another one on the way; when I wasn’t working part time at my design business I was at home with my son while my husband worked at his high tech job. Our new home was a vintage 1970’s throwback – dark and outdated – NOT a representation of who I was or the person I wanted to become. My life was chaotic, my self esteem was low and my home environment was not feeding my soul. Day after day I spent time in a home that was draining my energy; I felt trapped and was desperate to make a change, any change that would make me feel good. I knew I didn’t have a lot of time or money but I needed to do something.

One day while my son was napping I took a walk around each room in my home and began to daydream, to ask myself questions: What do I really like about the space? What don’t I like? What colors can I imagine in here that would make me feel good? How do I want this space to function? What is my intention for this room? What particular items in this room make me happy? How does this room really make me feel?

I had to shut off my designer mind, the one that was telling me the room should look or function a certain way, and really got in touch with how I felt deep down – what my soul was yearning for this space to be like. I knew from experience that I didn’t want my home to look like a magazine or a trophy home; one that looks great but not a space you can truly “live in” – being a designer I had seen that mistake made too many times before. I wanted my home to be a space where my boys could be boys – play and be messy without me totally freaking out that they were trashing a $5000 sofa or a rug – but I also wanted it to be a space that reflected my love for art and my husband’s love for sports: a space where we could entertain family and friends in style.

Taking the time to figure this all out was not only the first step in beginning to make our house a home but it was also an exercise in learning how to make some time for me – something I didn’t do very much of in those days. Little did I know that by allowing myself to take the time to really think about how I wanted my home to look, function and feel, I was starting down a road to great personal growth. It made me realize that what is important to me matters, and this new sense of awareness had a profound effect on my wellbeing. I knew right then and there that I would use my home as a laboratory, an experiment so to speak, in creating an environment that would feed my soul and make my spirits soar.

It’s now 25 years later, and looking back, I’d have to say my little “experiment” was a smashing success. With the help of my husband, two boys (who are now young adults) and one very handy father, we created a home that is warm, welcoming and one we all love to come home to. The road has been long and at times the journey wasn’t easy, but honestly, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The look of sheer joy on my son’s face when he smashed down the wall to our dining room with a sledge hammer was priceless, and the night we spent talking and laughing while having a picnic on the living room floor when our kitchen was being remodeled is a night I’ll never forget.

Today our home is a colorful one filled with special things that have meaning and fond memories for all of us. For each family member it is a sanctuary, a space that reflects our individuality and very different personalities. To me it is a little piece of heaven.