“When you walk through your front door, how do you want to feel?” That’s the million-dollar question before taking on any design or decluttering project, says Anna Beth Eskridge, owner of Making Room for Peace, an interior design and professional organization firm based in Williamsburg. Inspired by a recent home transformation for which Eskridge helped lighten and brighten a client’s 1980s era Ford’s Colony home with a fun, yet sophisticated Southern beach vibe, we asked her for insight into approaching an interior refresh with a beginner’s mind.
“With everything that has gone on the past couple of years,” Eskridge explains, “I imagine that there have been a lot of people looking around and asking themselves, ‘does this even feel like home?’” Whether you are moving into a new house, reimagining rooms once occupied by kids or designing a dining area that now doubles as a workspace, the first step to making your interior fabulously functional is figuring out what will make it uniquely you. And that often involves learning to let go of items or ideas that “no longer serve you,” Eskridge notes.
Whether designing, decluttering or both, Eskridge always begins from a place of trust in her clients. “Our interior design clients come to us not because they have no sense of style but because they ‘sort of know’ what they like and they ‘sort of know’ what they don’t like, and they need a professional’s help putting it together,” she says. “We’re going to listen and walk alongside them on their journey, and, while we are known for our signature style—coastal and peaceful—we want our clients’ homes to be a reflection of them.”
For the home in Ford’s Colony, the clients were moving to the area from upstate New York, looking to start anew following the pandemic. They wanted to reflect a sense of playfulness and a love for Palm Beach chic while still honoring the home’s location in history-rich Williamsburg. They selected a bold aqua and white color palette, a signature palm frond wallpaper pattern and elegant accents throughout to complement their more traditional, personalized pieces. As part of the process, Eskridge helped them decide on which items to include and which to let go. The result is at once inviting and invigorating, cheerful and calming.
Dare to Declutter
“Do you ever walk into your home and feel immediately confronted by the piles of mail on the counter, toys scattered across the floor or laundry eyeing you from the basket in the corner?,” Eskridge asks. Haven’t we all? The truth is “something’s gotta give,” she advises. A change of mindset is key. If you’ve found yourself stuck in a vicious clutter cycle, it might be time to get help from a pro. Once you begin the process of “shedding” the things that no longer serve you, that’s when you can start really “making room for peace.” Finally, you will need to create a sustainable system for keeping the clutter at bay.
Watch out for these pitfalls when deciding what to keep and what to let go, Eskridge says:
“I might need it someday.”
This is a chart-topping refrain when decluttering. One solution is to try asking yourself questions like: What does my lifestyle look like? What do I consider my core values to be? Do the items I own align with those values? What kind of lifestyle do I want? Are any of these items holding me back?
“It was expensive.”
While we certainly shouldn’t haphazardly be getting rid of items when decluttering, we do need to be thoughtful while not fixated on the price tag of those items. Instead, we should be asking: Do I use this? Do I love this? Does this item align with my core values? What is this item costing me?
“Someone gave it to me.”
Since it is often attached to family memories, this one can be very sensitive. The truth is, though, that memories are inside of us, not in our possessions. The person who gave you an item likely cares for you and, if holding on to it past its usefulness causes anxiety, they’d just as likely tell you to let it go.
“I’m saving it for my kids.”
Try having an honest conversation with your kids about the specific items they might actually want. Most kids will want just a few meaningful pieces, not everything. This approach can take away some of the stress, giving parents the freedom to downsize without worrying about discarding unwanted items.