Tuesday, September 3, 2013

DO sweat the small stuff!

Richard Carlson's "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" is a sweet, short, informative book which emphasizes the need to prevent the little things in life from overshadowing the more important.  While I drank the tea he serves in this 125 page manifesto (when a former boss forced us to read it) today I have a slightly different perspective on both sweating and defining "small" stuff.  The essence of what Dr. Carlson explains in DSTSS is to avoid getting lost in the minutiae of everyday life, stray from the more trivial moments and focus on the things that really matter.  His tag line is simple and straightforward; "and it's all small stuff."  My opinion, especially as it relates to interior design, is TO sweat the small stuff, the tiny details, the otherwise unimportant, because if you don't, you've missed the entire point.  What would a beautiful kitchen be without utensils? A glamorous bathroom without towels?  The perfect bed without sheets?  I'm sure choosing carpet, wallpaper and paint colors was the last thing on Dr. Carlson's mind when he sat down to write his book, but I started thinking more and more about the little things in life after a recent visit home.  A family gathering to celebrate my fathers birthday brought us criss-crossing the country to hang out for a few days, reminiscing about the past, laughing about our current situations and enjoying each others company.  My niece, Devin, was excited to share a cool app she'd discovered, where she spent hours upon hours designing the perfect virtual house.  Her manse had secret staircases to whimsical rooms of fantastical delight.  There was a pool bigger than any four star resort, a master suite more grandiose than anything you've ever seen on the glossy pages of a shelter magazine.  As she toured me around her fantasy house we talked about her forthcoming trip back to school and a smile wider than the grand canyon decorated her face.  With bright, rosie cheeks, she asked, "Uncle Paul, can I show you how I'm going to decorate my locker?"  And there I sat, on moms comfy sectional, in her air-conditioned home, in sunny southern California as my niece (unbeknown to her) taught me an important lesson I should have learned years ago...don't sweat the BIG stuff.  It's these tiny moments that matter most!
Whether a thirty room mansion, studio apartment, trailer or cottage, no matter the size of the space, it just takes a little creativity to make it special.  Devins locker design (and love of turquoise) is a great example of marrying big design ideas with small spaces.  In designing a space, while focussed on the bigger picture, I always try to zero in on one key element that speaks to the person (or people) occupying the space.  That item might be an actual object, like a favorite piece from a relative, or it can be color, an overall theme, etc.  The idea is that each space, no matter how big or small, speaks to the client who inevitably will exist inside it.  Just like a tiny New York apartment, designer Devin squeezed a lot of love into that little locker, proving you don't need a mansion to feel like a million bucks!