Before you select the kind of sofa you want, what color you will paint your walls or where you will hang that precious work of art, you have to make home-related decisions that are as relevant today as man lived in caves. What kind of dwelling you choose to live in says volumes about who you are. In New York City, for example, for a single person or for newlyweds, a small one-bedroom place says they are well-to-do and upwardly mobile. The same living situation in suburban Miami might not convey the same message. A sprawling suburban ranch or McMansion indicates that many persons live there.
No matter where we are in life — or in the world — each decision about how we live is informed by how we perceive the world and how it perceives us. Yes, there is something about "Keeping Up with the Joneses" in there as well. But more to the point, the first decisions when contemplating about a home and how to decorate it are the same as they were for our prehistoric predecessors: Who will sleep where? Is there enough space for gathering? Where will we put the functional spaces, such as the kitchen and bathrooms?
It used to be that decorum and etiquette defined the layout of our homes. We had a front porch to sit and enjoy the breeze, a parlor for receiving one's guests, a drawing room for entertaining, a formal dining room with an adjacent butler's pantry, etc. With today's great rooms and open floor plans, most rules have gone by the wayside, making it hard to navigate through anyone's home without crossing through what may be some private or semiprivate spaces, all in the name of "casual" living. As a result, manners and rules of how we live have gotten tangled up by this sense of openness — which is evident in most teenagers' behavior in today's households.
Still, our society imparts certain architecture and interior design trends that signal what is public versus what is private. A front door that is large and embellished is clearly the home's main entry point. Similarly, a sofa upholstered in a shiny striped fabric is visibly meant for special occasions. These decorations are symbols of self and about how you want to be perceived. The psychology of interior design is interesting in that it reveals things about you — things that you may not even be aware of.
The often-heard sayings "He is the king of his castle" and "She is the queen of her castle" are quite true. Your home is your domain, your territory. You control all that is in there and where it is located. Your home is your most important asset. Decorating your home is the ultimate exercise in self-development and self-realization. It is both autobiographical, if you do your own interiors, and biographical, if aided by an interior designer. All the pieces you choose to display — art, family photos, heirlooms and furnishings — help to tell your story to those who visit your home.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.