Parallels Between Inner and Outer Confusion

Research indicates that light, space, and room layout have a critical impact on physical and physiological well-being. Studies from the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture indicate that each feature of the architectural environment influences certain brain processes such as those involved in stress, emotion and memory (Edelstein 2009).


Too Much ‘Stuff’

Of course we are all aware of how much advertising we’re exposed to so it’s little wonder that, from an early age, we develop an insecurity about whether we have the right stuff, the best stuff, the stuff we need, stuff as good as the neighbor. Our belongings give us a sense of security (or not) that we are one of the crowd and on the right path. We often perceive we need material objects based on a sense of lack when in fact, we live in a land of plenty surrounded by great abundance. Most of us are very comfortable, but bombarded by suggestions to the contrary, we struggle with believing that we have everything we need.

I have had success by putting a moratorium on exposing myself to advertising that wants to convince me that one more yoga top or a new couch would change my life for the better and win me new friends. When I worked downtown, I would often wander through the stores looking at the latest trends and wanting all the time. I’ve stopped doing that. I silence the commercials on TV. I cancel mail order magazines when they arrive. Simply put, I’ve stopped exposing myself to advertising clutter.

A daily gratitude practice also helps. Reminding yourself each day that you already have much to be thankful for is an important weapon in the battle against media manipulation. This allows you more freedom to think for yourself. It helps you let go of old stories that no longer serve you. Embracing abundance opens up more space in your life and offers you the options of hanging on to material possessions or letting some of it go. This momentum will serve you well.

Interior Spaces & the Power of Intention

“If you do not create change, change will create you.” ~Unknown

In our Western culture, we often discuss how difficult it is to make changes although most of us are smart enough to know that the only constant in life is change.There are plenty of folks who understand metaphysical healing-the belief that negative mental patterns can lead to illness. New research in medicine informs us that if we change our physical bodies, our minds will follow. Or vice versa. Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal tells us that changing our mind about stress changes how much stress negatively affects us. See her fabulous TedTalk with almost 4 million views here: Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, suggests that changing our postures changes the hormones in our body and thus our behavior. See her great TedTalk here Used as a therapy tool and often credited to in Alcoholics Anonymous,  the phrase”fake it till you make it” suggests we act as if something was already true.

Many of us read and nod understandingly not realizing that when we walk into a space that has been intentionally designed, it really is a healthier environment to live in. If we can consciously use elements of feng shui, decluttering, interior design, and staging when we design our living spaces, we are bound to feel more supported and aligned with our priorities. Contact me if I can help.

Guide To Selling Your Home and Moving

Here’s a new and improved list for preparing for a move. Remember to approach the task a little at a time and ask for help where needed. The overwhelming task of moving is more than one person can handle so don’t  expect to muscle through on your own. Enjoy! <a href=”″ title=”Guide to Selling Your Home and Moving” target=”_blank”></a>

Designing Therapy Spaces: A Series to Enlighten and Delight

You’ve finally snagged a great new office space and you’re ready to move in but your momentum hits a roadblock. There isn’t much research on what constitutes healing spaces and as you now realize, there is little training in the halls of higher education for aspiring therapists and healers entering the field of healthcare. So it should come as no surprise that designing physical environments where therapy is conducted is often left to chance. The frightening news is that the few studies that have been done find that the competence and character of a healthcare giver are often judged based on the physical office spaces they occupy! People actually had opinions about qualifications based on pictures of offices!!! So the good news is we’re a shallow society that will always need therapy (I jest). But based on this, it appears to be vitally important for those in the health care profession to take heed – your income and the success of your business seem to depend on how well you appoint your office space.

In this age of pinterest and instagram, of course there are pictures everywhere on the internet with ideas of how a therapy office should look. After looking at many of these online examples however, I saw very few that support the my findings of environments people feel most at ease in, primarily because a decent picture requires bright light, the opposite illumination that  clients prefer when dealing with sensitive interpersonal issues.

Apparently your clientele is basing their initial perception of your work, first impressions of course, on the formality of your space and diplomas posted on your walls – this is extremely important. Your professional space should also support and empower you, the service provider, thankfully. Framing up those hard-earned documents isn’t difficult but formality is a bit different from comfort.

Neat and orderly are at the top of prospective client’s list and as I overlay my Feng Shui information, it appears that we begin finding patterns common to our culture. However, it’s interesting to note that much of this research has been conducted cross culturally with similar findings. You would think that clutter needn’t be mentioned when discussing a work space that invites clients inside but apparently that isn’t the case. If you are one that has less than tidy paperwork habits, I suggest another space to spread out or a desk that can be closed off behind doors. This rates a giant ‘no confidence’ for clients and will likely lose you business. So comfort is defined as orderly, warm, nurturing yet formal.

This being the first installment of the series, we’re looking at the larger picture. On the macro level, the space should reflect the intent of the practitioner and facilitate and encourage open communication. A reflection of your values as a practitioner should be apparent in the space and will demonstrate outwardly your philosophy of caring for your clients. Since therapists have different specialties, decor will differ but be mindful of your clients before diving in. The space – the room itself, the building, and even the approach to the building should allow for client privacy. Of course the offices should be welcoming,  and feel safe for your clients. As these design decisions are very subtle in determining outcomes, mutual goals are paramount as is getting feedback and opinions from others.

The Feng Shui of the seating is an interesting dilemma – the power position faces the exit however that is also a safety concern for many so ideally both patient and therapist have the door in their sight line whenever possible. Being able to move the seating (non-fixed) is also a great advantage and every piece of seating needs to be supportive and comfortable. This brings me to one particularly disturbing picture on the internet where there was a ledge just behind the back of the couch at head level. Any situation where there may be the possibility or perception of something falling on the head  such as bookcases, shelving, heavy wall-hangings, should be avoided.

Next time, we’ll discuss decor but be aware we are striving for a gender neutral color scheme and interestingly, a leaning toward the slightly more masculine for adult clients based on a photographic project I perused where therapy offices were photographed and reviewed. By the end of the series,  we’ll also have discussed color theory, lighting, stimulation levels, and seasonal flair and try to pull it all together in the end. Till next time then…

Re – Imagining the Spaces You Live In

It’s fall in Minnesota and we all know that means that soon it will be cold. Really cold. And dark. And depressing. And icy, miserable, and did I mention cold. But I’ve learned over the years how to best keep my own spirits up, and judging by the feedback I get from my clients, it works for them too.

Seasonal Decorating 005I’ve been working with people in their personal spaces my entire adult life and I’m ready to make some bold statements about how our surroundings either support our good spirits or they don’t. Similar to the way a chiropractor makes adjustments to your physical body, the art of placement can offer adjustments to your psyche.

There’s an astonishing power that ‘place’ has. The difference between being in your favorite place on earth or the grocery store check out line. It’s the difference between watching a stunning landscape pass before your eyes on a leisurely drive and emptying the trash. Lying in a warm bed on a cold morning or changing a flat on the side of the road.

So it should come as no surprise that:

  • our physical surroundings are either nurturing, neutral, or downright depressing.
  • studies indicate that we heal faster in some places than others
  • adjusting furniture and possessions affects depression
  • colors have different effects on our buying habits, our eating habits, and our dispositions
  • air quality and temperature affect our moods
  • different colors affect our moods, our appetite, and our behaviors
  • eliminating an aggravating item from our sightline changes our hormones
  • practicing power poses changes our hormones
  • brains respond to conditioning
  • you can change your spirits by changing your spaces

There’s so much written now about how space can heal. And it’s important to note that the opposite can be true as well, of course. In fact I’m a little surprised more isn’t written about the topic although since few stand to gain by studying this, it’s understandable that it’s lost on lots of people. Statistics in this morning’s paper suggest that suicide rates are once again on the rise here in my part of the US and I wish more space was devoted to the idea of carving out even the smallest of sacred spots in your environment and spending as much time there as necessary to heal your wounds.

We know that stress can make you sick and in fact be the death of you. We also know that relief from that stress can heal the wounds it created. The excellent work of Dr. Esther Sternberg whose book The Science of Place and Well-Being explored just this and isn’t the first to bring national attention to this emerging field. So in our search for stress management solutions, let’s not forget the obvious- your home and your work spaces are your sanctuary and can help you heal. Or there’s the Samueli Institute’s paper Healing Spaces: Elements of Environmental Design That Make an Impact on Health:

The “ambiance” of a space has an effect on people using the space. In recent years, design for health care environments has begun to include esthetic enhancements in an attempt to reduce stress and anxiety, increase patient satisfaction, and promote health and healing.

Although there are other modalities that claim energy clearing is necessary and charge big bucks with promises, claims of improved health, better relationships, improved sleep and greater prosperity are not uncommon after space adjustments.

Inviting More Chi Into Your Life

For 2 decades, I’ve been helping people redesign their personal spaces. And I have heard the most amazing feedback from them, all of which has encouraged me to delve deeper into the importance of the spaces in our lives. There’s an enormous amount of material covering the healing properties of our physical spaces, the spiritual potential of them, as well as the quality of life issues many of us long to understand. A fascinating read:

In 1984, medical researcher Roger Ulrich examined the hospital records of 46 patients who had undergone gallbladder surgery in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital. During recovery, half of their beds faced windows that overlooked a grove of trees. The other half had a view of a brick wall. It seems like the difference should hardly matter, but Ulrich found that patients who could see the trees left the hospital almost a full day sooner than those with a view of a wall.

Not only that, but those with views of nature required fewer doses of pain medication and had fewer negative nurse reports. Ulrich controlled for other variables that could affect recovery time, like age and sex, and each pair of patients — one with a view of trees, one a view of the brick wall — had been cared for by the same nurses, so differences in nursing could not account for the speed of their recovery. The difference lay entirely in what they were looking at. (

We think of our homes, offices, and other dwellings as simply containers for all of our material possessions however the spaces we inhabit influence our attitudes, our peace of mind, the quality of our thinking, and our ability to perform. They seem to impact our spirit and our ability or inability to think clearly. The energy we emit and the energy around us both are directly impacted by our physical environment. This perpetual dance, always in motion, dynamically impacting us, may be far more important than we’ve realized. Unfortunately, we’ve become accustomed to relegating this to the outer reaches our minds, either because we’re unaware of the significance or because we have yet to be enlightened and delighted by how change and enhancement will be a catalyst for better vitality for our bodies, minds, and spirits.

As with Feng Shui, the art of attracting chi into specific areas of our physical space and intensifying the energy can be learned. First comes the awareness, then the research and cognition, and then the creative manipulation for specific purposes. And with everything of this sort, there’s both the art and the science of noticing blockages in your life and then intentionally realigning the flow to alter current energy patterns.

My journey into this work began with chaos – the chaos in my own emotional and physical life. The artist in me refused to believe this was a problem to be solved with $$$$ but rather one to be solved with creativity. This offered me a chance to seek out information about color theory, materials that offered ‘grounding’ effects, feng shui placement, textural analysis, and spatial manipulation. Articles and opportunities seem to come my way again and again helping me to learn that I could not only ‘stage’ someones house and have it sell the first week on the market, but I could also manipulate their physical things and change the chi that flowed into their lives.

Often this work is a catalyst for larger changes in people’s lives as they realize what enormous power they have and enormous possibilities there are to shift. My work not only catches their attention but enables them to realize they can continue to bring light and energy into their spaces themselves using these simple principles and the intention to improve their physical surroundings.

A Refresher Course


  • Replace exterior fixtures and numbers if they’re cheap looking or worn
  • Clean up the front door- repaint or replace
  • Update window treatments
  • Update lighting fixtures
  • Assess the bathroom- re caulk and/or clean grout
  • Replace wall plates if necessary
  • Look critically at the floors- replace old carpet and throw rugs, sand floors
  • Clean windows

Is Your Home Stressing You Out?

Late winter is often a difficult time for people, particularly when the temperatures remain too cold for outdoor fun. Still, we must make the most of our climate and our home sanctuaries. Create Peaceful Environments


Health guru and noted author Dr. Andrew Weil offers us some tips on the home at:
Your home – whether big, small, or somewhere in between – should be your sanctuary, a place where stress is left at the door and your soul is nurtured. For a more comforting environment, consider implementing the following:

•Bring the outdoors in. Green plants, cut flowers and blooming bulbs, or pieces of wood, rocks and other organic elements can create a feeling of nature indoors.

•Paint a room to suggest a mood. For instance, blue and green promote a relaxed feeling and may be good choices for the bedroom, while warm colors (maroon, coral, burgundy) suggest a cozy environment and may be inviting in a family room.

•Surround your senses with beauty. Artwork, fragrance, smooth textures and calming sounds all provide a pleasant environment in which to relax.

•Set aside a room or area for peace and calm. A place for spiritual reflection and meditation can provide shelter from noise and distraction.

•Clean out clutter. A low-maintenance home is refreshing after a day of hectic meetings, errands and chores. Fewer items can mean less frustration.

•Create an atmosphere of love. Display handmade or meaningful gifts from loved ones and photos of family and friends.

10 Tips For Marketing Your Home for Sale

Marketing your home to sell is very important, and if you’re considering selling the home yourself, get some help. Even Realtors, confined as they often are to a limited number of words, using language customary in the industry, often present text that says little about your home’s best features. So spend some time yourself or ask your home stager to help you highlight some of the most memorable aspects of your particular home. You want yours to be unforgettable! Nine more tips, discussed elsewhere in this blog are:

An Inviting Presentation

An Inviting Presentation

  1. Great Marketing Text
  2. Fantastic Pictures
  3. Well Staged
  4. Squeaky Clean
  5. Well Ventilated
  6. Well Timed Listing
  7. Priced Right
  8. Inviting Landscaping
  9. Sparse Furnishings
  10. Accessible For Showings

3 Tips For Selling Your Home

courtesy of Zillow

1. Know the comps

One of the first people you’ll want to reconnect with is your real estate agent. They are your “feet on the street” and have their finger on the market’s pulse. Real estate agents generally pick up on trends or shifts in your particular neighborhood or market before the press or the bloggers.
So get on your agent’s radar as soon as possible. Start going to open houses to see what’s selling and to get a feel for values and how homes are being presented. Likely a home you see at an open house in February could sell by the time you list in May or June. Future buyers will probably use this home as a “comparable” sale. Having seen the “comps” yourself puts you in the buyers’ mindset. It enables you to get ahead of the curve or learn from the mistakes of other sellers.

2. Have your property inspected

The buyer, after they have a signed contract on a home, is supposed to pay for an inspection, right? While that’s true, you can beat them to the punch and know what needs to be repaired before you go on the market.
Imagine if you list your home and have a great offer from a solid buyer. But the buyer finds out through the inspection that the roof needs replacement and the deck has dry rot. That excellent offer may not seem so great if you have to negotiate thousands of dollars in credits with the buyer.
Having your property inspected months in advance will allow you time to make a plan to get the big (and small) things repaired. If you can identify the problems upfront, you can fix them for a lot less money than those repairs would get negotiated for down the road. Or, you can price your home factoring in the needed repairs. Plus, a home with a clean bill of health can be advertised as such. Many buyers are looking for a home in “move-in” condition, free of any needed repairs or fixes.

3. Hire a designer or stager

Your real estate agent should have a good designer or stager they like to work with — someone who can help you start to view your home as a product to be marketed. This should be someone you reach out to once you have the place inspected and know the property’s condition.
Many people think a designer means big money or a wasted expense, but this isn’t always the case. Many designers charge by the hour. It could be as easy as hiring a designer for two hours to help you decide on colors to paint a room or two; a stager to help you declutter or decide which furniture to move out to make some rooms show better.
Based on your real estate agent’s feedback, you may decide to engage the designer on a minor kitchen or bathroom remodel. An old kitchen with linoleum countertops, knotty redwood cabinets and avocado-colored appliances can easily be updated with an inexpensive cabinet makeover and new stainless steel appliances.

You’ll save money in the long run

Like any major decision, selling a home takes a lot of planning, timing and consultation. Consulting with professionals and getting the facts in advance will help the process go a lot smoother, will help you make an informed decision and will most likely save you a lot of money when you sell.
If you’re a homeowner, transitioning to a seller mindset isn’t necessarily easy. The sooner you start that transition, however, the easier the process will be. But be aware there can be an unexpected, if ironic, outcome: Some would-be sellers do the fix-it work to their homes, clean up some rooms, or paint and update the entire place — only to fall in love with their home all over again and decide to stay.


5 Biggest Turn Offs When Touring a Home

courtesy of Zillow:

Here are five huge turnoffs agents and their buyer clients see when touring homes and how to avoid them:

Pets and their stuff

Pets bring so many great things to a family and home. But no potential buyer wants to see a dirty cat litter box next to the breakfast table or Fido’s bitten, saliva-filled bone on the sofa in living room.
When your home is for sale, nobody needs to know that a pet lives there. Potential buyers who are allergic to dogs or cats will be turned off immediately, and the mere presence of a pet will send some buyers right out the front door. Have a plan in place to keep the pet remnants at bay, the home tidy and your pet’s stuff out of sight. It may seem like a burden, but if you are serious about selling, this is of utmost importance.

Toys and baby supplies

Selling your home when you have children — especially a newborn — can be trying and stressful. For the most part, buyers can appreciate that keeping the home tidy under such circumstances is a challenge, and they are forgiving. But it is important to make an effort before showing the home.
If possible, have a toy chest or large closet dedicated to storing your kids’ stuff. Also keep in mind that buyers have a hard time with the more sanitary or personal items associated with infants. Leaving breast milk, a breast pump or dirty baby bottles on the kitchen counter could make a buyer feel that the home isn’t clean or sanitary. If you have a newborn, put a plan in place and allow 20 minutes to store baby items before a showing.

Cluttered counters and dirty dishes

Kitchens and bathrooms help sell a home. Most people spend the majority of their time in the kitchen, and buyers will want to spend some time in yours.
If the counters are crowded with the blender, coffee maker, toaster oven and other items, it will appear that there is little counter space, or worse, that your kitchen lacks cabinet space. And last night’s meatloaf caked onto plates sitting in the sink is sure to turn buyers off. Clear the countertops and put away the dishes before leaving home for a showing.

Personal items and toiletries

Don’t stop with the kitchen; the same holds true for bathroom countertops as well.
Clean the toothpaste off the sink and put away your prescriptions, open body lotion containers, toothbrushes and dirty towels. Buyers want to feel clean in the bathroom, and although it’s clear that they won’t be the first to use this bathroom, they don’t need to be reminded that they will be taking over a “used” bathroom.

Toilet and toilet seat

Imagine a serious buyer touring your home. They’ve fallen in love with the chef’s kitchen and are already planning where they would put the television and how their sectional couch would fit in the living room. Then, they stumble upon your bathroom to find the toilet seat up and not clean.
The last thing anyone wants to see is a dirty toilet, so make sure the toilet seat is down at all times. Will buyers be scared off otherwise and not move ahead with an offer? Probably not. But you want them to fall in love with your home, not be turned off.
Most home sellers won’t make these mistakes, but for the 20 percent who do, these five turnoffs could mean the difference between a full-price or lowball offer — or worse — an offer on a competing property.

Re Design And Updating-1 Day Makeovers and Use What You Have Decorating

Home interior design needn’t be costly. Based on your goals and using our layered design approach, we will work with what you have and within your budget, using the treasures you already own and love, to help you create a home best suited for the way your family lives. We consider efficiency, comfort, and beauty when we discuss your needs. Consider the testimonial below:

 “Carol can look a room over and enhance color and texture just by re-organizing and bringing treasures out into the open.  Carol used our artwork and furniture we already had to produce fresh, coordinated spaces.  I only had to buy a set of towels to have a completely new house!”                          Jennifer 2006

What Makes Buyers Buy?

Read an article originally published in the Mpls Star Tribune on what makes consumers (buyers for your home) buy:

Turns out, a little background music or even the chaos of a construction project can be a good thing. Why? Because research shows a “moderate level of stimulation” makes shoppers “evaluate things more positively,” she said.


Staging Statistics

The home staging business is a success because:

·         U.S. Housing and Urban Development reports that a
staged house sells, on average, 17% higher than an
unstaged house.

·         Statistics suggest staged homes sell at an average of
6.32% over what they are listed for.  Non staged  homes
only average 1.6% over the listed price.


·         The New York Village Voice reported that the average
number of days on the market for a staged house was
13.9 versus 30.9 days for an unstaged house.

·         2003 HomeGain survey of 2,000 real estate agents
nationwide found that moderately priced home
improvements, ranging from $80 – $2800, made in
preparation for sale, actually yielded the highest returns
when a house is sold.

·         Only 10% of home buyers can actually visualize the
potential of a home.

·         A  study by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry found that a $700 paint job results    in  a 200% recovery of the cost upon resale of the home.
(National Post, Mar. 11/04)

For more statistics on staging, also visit

or from USA Today