splitopiacover[FROM CHAPTER TEN: CREATING A HOME, ALONE]

Jodi Topitz, an interior stylist who launched a divorce décor company, We2Me, after her own divorce, sees a home makeover as an action item on the road toward recuperation. Topitz has a two-minute video on her website about getting “your mojo back through color and design” that makes you want to jettison your worldly possessions just to go on an uplifting shopping spree. In one scene, she tells a client, “You need to divorce the coffee table! We need to celebrate with a new piece of furniture that celebrates who you are and fits in your new space.”

Topitz encourages people to purge objects holding the past, and buy new ones that make them feel energized and joyful. “I call it a space-over. People just think function, not the emotional baggage of their furniture,” she said. You might keep your old coffee table because it’s convenient, but forget you bought the table on your honeymoon to Thailand. Emotionally, that memory occupies your living room, dragging you down.

[LATER IN CHAPTER]

We can be happy with a lot less than many of us maintain. Jodi Topitz started We2Me as a result of her own surprisingly uplifting divorce-induced downsizing. She sold her large house of twenty years and moved into a tiny rental. She painted the walls of her two-room apartment a deep teal—dark colors make small spaces look larger—and chose one big piece of furniture as a focal point in each room to avoid the “dollhouse effect” of small items in a small space.
“My divorce took three years, but it only took me three weeks to make the space feel like a home. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I never thought I’d wake up in this tiny, two-room apartment and feel safe.’ I’d look around at the painted walls and feel safe. I could close my eyes, and feel good.”

It seems obvious but it bears repeating: When you’re creating a space for yourself, chose items, colors, and even a new place based on what speaks to you, rather than on the latest home trend. Here are three tips:

Creating a Nest of Your Own

Do it fast: Topitz advises clients to set up their new place quickly, ideally in a few weeks. Or at least establish order in the most important rooms. “You have to live in the now. You can’t say, ‘I’m not going to paint the walls because I’m only living here for two years.’ You want to take hold of something concrete, and working on something tangible nourishes you in this transition.”

Unpacking and repainting quickly helps re-instill a sense of security and stability for yourself—and for your children, whose routines and even school may have changed due to divorce. You can help kids feel rooted in a new place by letting them choose furniture, paint colors, or drapes for their own bedroom as well as hang pictures they love and take responsibility for keeping their room clean.