A Look Back: Lessons Learned from 2021― Part 2
For my second installment of the annual end-of-year-lessons-learned series, I pulled a handful of highlights from columns that ran during the last six months of 2021. These insights, gleaned from many inspiring and informative interviews, run the gamut from the life-changing magic of folding and entertaining a horde to creating a football fan cave.
In JULY, the second half of the year kicked in with the launch of my newest book, “What to Do With Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want,” (The Experiment Publishing), which wasn’t my idea. I honestly hadn’t thought beyond the kind of downsizing that involves clearing out an older parent’s house or thinning out your own. But a publisher came to me with the idea of writing the ultimate downsizing guide. “So, you want a book that goes beyond people’s portfolios to their possessions?” I asked. “And that tells us how to create a plan while we’re alive so that our assets benefit others when we’re not.” Yes. And I learned a lot.
Lesson: It’s not just what you leave, but how you leave it that matters. Whether you’re young, old, single, married, blended or upended, wealthy or of modest means, every adult should have a plan. It can make the difference between leaving a meaningful legacy and leaving a mess.
In AUGUST, I took on the life-changing topic of … folding. You laugh, but folding is up there with godliness, cleanliness and making your bed. Done consistently, folding brings serenity and calm to spaces that in most households look like rats’ nests.
Lesson: Folded items take up less space, get less wrinkled, are easier to find, easier to pull out and look better. To catapult your folding to pro status and calm chaotic linen closets and drawers, practice the art of threes. Fold everything you can into thirds lengthwise, so side edges fold inward to create three equal layers. Then fold the other direction to fit your space. Store items with the thickest folded edge facing out or up, and free edges facing the wall or drawer bottom.
In SEPTEMBER, I attended the reveal of one paint company’s 2022 Color of the Year (COTY) by participating in a virtual cooking class with a celebrity chef. Behr Paints’ marketing team invited me and other home writers to the virtual unveiling with celebrity chef Curtis Stone. The chef angle (palette, palate, get it?) put a fresh spin on a same-ole story. Stone whisked the group through a demo of how to make a 15-ingredient salad, as I tried hopelessly to keep up. By the end of the demo, Stone’s artful salad was colorfully tossed into one masterpiece, while my ingredients weren’t even in the same bowl. But I did have a story …
Lesson: The story was not Behr’s COTY, a silvery shade of green called Breezeway (MQ3-21). The story was that in a rare stroke of unanimity almost every major paint brand also chose a soft mid-tone green for its COTY 2022: PPG named Olive Sprig (PPG1125-4), Farrow & Ball tagged Breakfast Room Green (No.81), and Sherwin-Williams named Evergreen Fog (SW 9130. In other words, 2022 is setting up to be the year of the mixed-green salad.
In OCTOBER, seven sorority sisters flew in from five states and swarmed the Happier Yellow House. The four-day visit, which my husband fondly referred to as the blitzkrieg, prompted fast action. Suddenly, all home projects we’d let slide due to pandemic procrastination (no one’s coming over anyway) came to the fore.
Lesson(s) Learned: 1. All the times I told you to stop worrying about what your house looks like and just have people over was hogwash. 2. The difference between getting your house ready for, say, a dinner party and prepping it for a group of overnight guests is like the difference between getting your car washed and getting it detailed. 3. Too often, I’ve come out the other side of these affairs feeling as if I missed all the fun. This time, I set out to make sure everyone had a terrific time, including me. I assigned tasks, accepted help, and made time to recharge, which made hosting the horde a lot less work and I had more fun.
IN NOVEMBER, I uncovered an underground football craze, the fan cave. A story featuring the Top 10 NFL-Inspired Basement Fan Caves captured the intersection of America’s pigskin obsession and home décor. Talk about fantasy football. These basement game rooms are theme rooms on muscle boosters. Broncos fan Devin Hayes, of Westminster, Colo., decked out his with Broncos navy blue and orange walls, Broncos chairs, a 55-inch flat-screen, a bar, a smart TV with surround sound, and display cases to show off team swag. He has plans to expand.
Lesson: The lengths to which someone with a passion will go to express himself through home design knows no bounds.
In DECEMBER, I said goodbye to a dear friend and colleague. My old leather office chair and I had been through a lot together. For 25 years, I relied on her support, on her welcoming arms. Together, we wrote seven books, hundreds of articles, and over a thousand of these weekly columns. She always had my back and my rear. But when I found another chair that fit better, and updated my office with a new, sleek white leather and chrome chair, I made the hard choice to find the old chair a new, appreciative home.
Lesson: As hardnosed as I am about telling you to let go of furnishings that no longer serve you, I, too, get irrationally attached. Handing beloved items off to a deserving home takes the sting away. In this case, the chair went to a young mother and writer who hoped to be published someday. May the force be with her.
Thank you for joining me on this weekly journey.
Photo caption: A field of greens: Like other major paint brands, Sherwin-Williams announced a soft shade of green (Evergreen Fog SW 9130) as its 2022 Color of the Year. A “sophisticated gray-green” that “moves toward revitalization and growth.” Photo Courtesy of Sherwin-Williams.