As a professonal organiser and interior designer who’s also trained in psychotherapy, I’m often asked the same question: what do certain objects or styles of home living say about people? The simple answer is, there’s no simple answer. A particular object or style may reveal one thing about one person and something entirely different about another. It is however a fascinating subject.
One thing I know for sure: the interaction and connections we have with the objects in our lives are rarely merely about function. We give our homes and possessions meaning, or perhaps they accumulate it almost by themselves. More than that, we develop relationships with our possessions. Certain objects may appear to take on characters and personalities. And it is not uncommon to attach such deep meaning to objects that they may even become almost sacred to us. They become like a talisman, a way we make a connection from the soul to the material world, like carriers of spirit.
During times such as the pandemic when unpredictability and chaos assert themselves, the aspects of our lives over which we can exert some control become more important than ever. As the world beyond our front door feels increasingly threatening, our attention may turn to the interior where we have greater power and choice. But back to the original question: what do the choices we make say about us?
There are several different ways your personality may express itself in how you create, manage and organise your home. Here is a brief overview of some personality types. You may find aspects of each of these apply to you, or that some resonate more than others.
The sentimental type
For some of us, the meaning we give to objects is so profound that the things we own come to represent important people in our lives or those we have known and loved in the past. They may also represent aspects of our self and our past. This can become exaggerated at a time such as the pandemic when we cannot see our families. When we live in a home filled with meaningful objects, it is a home filled with stand-ins for those we love and our deepest values. This can be comforting and safe, but sometimes it becomes suffocating. No surprise though, that this can result in an instinct to protect those things at all cost.
The aesthetic type
For others, our attachment to our homes and the objects in them is less about what they represent and more about how they look. Beautifully designed or crafted objects that are pleasing to the eye have value in their own right. Right now, we may not be able stand on a picturesque beach or sublime mountainside, but we can enjoy our artworks and designer pieces. When carefully curated and arranged with style, these objects help to create order and beauty. This in turn reflects a state of inner calm back to the psyche and soothes the stresses and strains of life.
The creative type
This type chooses objects to express themselves, to say something about the kind of person they are, their values and identity. Just like a favourite dress to wear out, their home is a reflection of how they want to show up in the world. A place to express themself, especially when they cannot get to theatres, art galleries or other creative places. The home becomes a blank canvas to change and curate regularly, with colours and objects that they rearrange. Organising the home can be a form of play, a way to have fun and re-invent ourselves.The creative types are probably the ones who have redesigned and reorganised their homes during lockdown.
The dependable type
People of this type want their home to stay just how it has always been. Keeping everything the same helps them feel secure. Having things that make home feel like a safe haven in these challenging times is like having an anchor in a turbulent sea. It is the one constant that you do have control over. Being able to connect to your personal possesions and meaningful objects, especially when you cannot see the people who are associated with them is fundamental.
This type often has clutter. They believe that one day they will sort it out and one day they will do that thing they’re dreaming of. These are the types that live in a world of tomorrow and tend to lose track of time (and space). Before they know it, their space is full and they never did learn to play the cello! I am not talking about hoarders here, I am talking about those of you who have a spare room full of stuff that is an extension of your don’t know drawer: call it your ‘Decide later’ room. Things go in there for ‘another day’. During Covid, we had a lot of days, but still that room didn’t get cleared. In that room, under the clutter, is a creative project that needs to be given light of day, and set free so it can grow.
Which aspects of these best apply to you, or do some resonate more than others?
We are all different and how we relate to our home can be as complex as how we relate to anything that is meaningful to us. You may especially see aspects of these styles come up when you tackle a decluttering project. What have you being doing with your space during the pandemic?
What dreams and aspirations have you forgotten about because they are buried in under the decide/action later pile? I would love to hear about them.