In choosing design options it's important to know each room's purpose for you and your family. How do you want the room to feel? What activities will occur there? What qualities and consciousness do you want to anchor, enhance and experience there-calmness, patience, comfort, vitality, prosperity, sacredness? Whatever qualities you choose, you can create an environment that reflects and serves them.

Now the task is to creatively discover how that would look to you. Be sure to examine and choose every item with your eye and your gut. Every item should be a meaningful anchor for something a memory, mood or feeling. If it has no meaning for you, if it doesn't palpably stir, please or nourish you, it probably doesn't belong in your home.

buddhist home altar

 Think of each object in your home as a musical note or chord, the empty spaces as the silences between the notes, and the creative combination of all of the objects and spaces in your home as a melody or symphony. Your challenge is to discover, perhaps note by note and space by space, the melody of your home design. To do that, you need to tune into and feel each item, each piece of art and furniture, and the space itself. Then, make sure each note resonates in your gut. That's how you know it's the right note.

Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." It's the same when it comes to choosing, purchasing and placing items for your home. In choosing furnishings and art, each piece and its placement should feel exactly right, as if hitting the bull’s eye in your gut, or playing the right note in a beautiful melody. Look for the false notes, the ones that appear right but don't resonate with your depths. Comfort and aesthetics are important, but that lightning factor is what makes a note the perfect note. Why bring anything less into your altared space?

Even when your eye and mind are confused, your gut still knows the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. So take your time with each piece, feel how it makes you feel and don't settle for almost. Remember, home design is not about filling empty space with stuff, even impressive stuff. It's about creating the most comfortable and beautiful environment that speaks to your spirit and sensibilities, and meets your particular needs. It isn't about impressing others. It's about you loving what you buy and put in your home. It's about you loving how it all fits together and how you feel in it.

In terms of furniture placement, don't crowd yourself by putting things too close together. A room shouldn't be a maze or an obstacle course you have to negotiate daily. You want relatively easy access when passing through any room or moving from one part of a room to another.

stone statues

Also, a limited budget doesn't have to limit your satisfaction with the final result. The perfect pieces for you, or for any space in your home, aren't necessarily the most expensive, stylish or original, or the ones the salesperson says are top of the line. They're the pieces that ring your bell. And you can find them in unexpected places and in many home furniture outlets.

If you find something you love but can't afford, don't worry. Be patient and keep looking. You will be able to find something affordable that you also love, and that perfectly fits your home, needs and tastes. Or, you can wait and save up for something you love but can't afford right now. It's your choice. Just don't settle for lightning bugs. Hold out for lightning and it will come as unexpectedly as lightning often does.

The right timing may not necessarily conform to your initial schedule. Be willing to let the process take the time it needs to come together. Selecting and buying things in a rush to meet a hasty home design deadline is almost never a good idea. Let it be an unfolding creative quest. Go on a pilgrimage to stores in your area. Search the Web. Read home-design magazines. Look until you find things that you know, with absolute confidence, will work for you and your home.

We all need a little help and support when making important decisions. Good feedback, genuine expertise and a different perspective are useful. So get good help if you can find it. Invite a friend or acquaintance into the process, one who knows you and whose taste you trust. Seeing things through someone else's eyes can expand and clarify your own vision. You can also use a professional designer or shopper, someone who has greater knowledge in this area, knows where to find things, and brings a broader and more seasoned perspective to the process.

But, bottom line, only buy stuff you really like and that you think you'll still like when your income grows, you move, or you remodel your house. Trust that you can, right where you are, with your present budget; design a beautiful home environment where you feel completely comfortable, at ease and connected to all that surrounds you in any room you enter.



Clutter can all too easily creep into and take over any part of our living environments, distracting and detracting from the ultimate goal of relaxation and restoration. Clothes, books and other items scattered on the floor, the bed, chairs and tables increasingly add up to chaos. Clutter interferes with our physical environments, our visual fields and our minds by gnawing at the subconscious and physically getting in the way. Ignoring clutter isn't the solution, as this only desensitizes and distances us from the home environment that ought to open up and nourish us.

There are many easy, ingenious, affordable, hidden storage solutions for your home. These include a wide variety of closet organizers, Ministorage and shelving systems and outdoor portable storage units. More elegant storage solutions may include quality cabinets, wardrobes, dressers, armoires, trunks and more. Whichever solution you choose, it's important to take storage into account when creating a conscious, orderly, uncluttered home.