Home Free

I have never had my home at the top of my mind as much as during the last 18 months. It’s been not just top of mind really, but top of heart, soul and every conceivable cell of my body have been involved in resolving the issues stemming from my decision to leave my home of 13 years, to seek, find and unexpectedly “fight” to stay in my new home of choice.

Your home is crucial to your physical and emotional well-being, so make each area the best it can be.

We all know the importance of shelter. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is down there at the base, among the physiological needs, along with food, water and clothing. Not that I actually lost or faced the threat of loss of a place to call home, but I did face numerous threats to my preferred lifestyle, as well as came upon financial challenges to meet the demands of the move I made, enough to cause a good number of sleepless or listless nights and emotional distress.

My studio, although big for a studio, just felt too cramped after 13 years, and I was ready to spread my wings. There were stressful pet issues as well, stemming from an unreasonable (I’m being kind), pet-averse condo board, which had become too tiring and tiresome to deal with (they just decided to arbitrarily change the ruling on the Master Deed, which allowed domestic pets).

Do make your home the best that it can be. For me, that means making your space reflect your authentic self; keeping it as organized and as clean as you’re able.

I did find my perfect new place, twice as big, properly subdivided, and unabashedly pet-friendly. I decided to sell my very well-located old condo unit and moved to this bigger place which cost pretty much the same, but minus a parking slot (which I didn’t need anyhow) and a high-end CBD location.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next though. Not to get into the details, but basically, because I wasn’t able to sell my old unit within the designated time frame, I ended up dealing with additional payments I couldn’t afford; taking out a loan for the first time in my life; contending with broker-related issues here and there; giving in to selling way below market price due to time pressure and property glut; swallowing penalties upon penalties brought on by the banker-type people I had to deal with; and yes, suffering a couple of breakdowns while all this was happening.

The good news is the worst is over and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Final steps are being undertaken as I write, and all this should be a memory in a month or so. All’s well that ends well, and I’ve definitely learned precious lessons from the experience.

The home as haven
Now to put on my Life Coach hat: I wish to emphasize the importance of Physical Environment to one’s overall sense of well-being. It is one of the key areas in the Wheel of Life that I use to assess a coachee’s general perception of the different areas of life. This refers to a person’s dwelling which plays a big role in his or her physical and emotional well-being.

And it’s not about the size of your home, rather it’s all the things that have to do with it being your haven, your sanctuary, your safe place where you can feel relaxed and nurtured, a place for you to physically and emotionally flourish in.

Do make your home the best that it can be. For me, that means making your space reflect your authentic self; keeping it as organized and as clean as you’re able (which doesn’t mean you’re cleaning all the time as that would be more stressful than not); decluttering regularly and taking out stuff that you don’t need or use or are just plain ugly and shooting for the best residence you can find, taking into consideration the location (proximity to your work and haunts), community and resources. No pressure, as it’s a work in progress, so just have fun with this.


I had a heyday decorating and putting all the rooms in order in my new digs, and I’d like to share what I consider the key elements for each area. These are ideas I did my best to approximate even in my old, smaller home, but obviously, having more space and actual rooms to work and play with made a huge difference when I transferred.

Your bedroom is your oasis and I insist you invest on the best mattress you can afford (or upgrade when able, something which I just did, hurrah) and lovely, comfy sheets. I also recommend putting in choice personal mementos, a good reading lamp, a place for books, and to definitely keep clutter under control in this, your private space.


The bathroom, I believe, should allow for self-absorption. The way to do this is to have some spa amenities in there, like scents, lotions, body and hair treatments of choice, even music (bring it in!). And do invest in a shower heater as a warm bath has health and emotional benefits. Don’t just shower and go. Make your bath(room) time one of rejuvenation, even if it’s just a matter of adding a few more minutes in there to do things that would make you come out more relaxed, calm and feeling beautiful.

Let’s talk about the living room. Put the “living” in your living room by making sure it has elements that make it—and you—come alive. My living room doubles as my “entertainment center,” so it’s where my TV and sound system are; it’s where I do my dance video exercises; it has my board games, magazines, and photo albums (yes, I still maintain and keep those) and it has furniture and a layout that’s cozy, charming and comfortable for lounging around and entertaining in.

Because I wasn’t able to sell my old unit within the designated time frame, I ended up dealing with additional payments I couldn’t afford.

The dining room and kitchen area should be clean and organized. I am hardly the gourmet cook, but I enjoy a good meal laid out nicely on a pretty table and I make sure I get to do this as often as possible. Enjoying one’s meals at home is a secret of simple abundant living.

Let’s go to my home office. I have equipped it with a nice work desk and work chair, where I do my writing, editing, studying and administrative tasks; a sofa/couch where I do my one-on-one private Life Coaching sessions; and my bead crafting station (I make bead jewelry), composed of a work desk and chest of bead drawers. I know I did a good job because I always do satisfying work in this space. The idea is to have a nook of your own that allows you to indulge and thrive in your chosen ways of making money, and of creating—even if you only have space for a desk and chair behind a screen for now.

Finally, my terrace garden… I have divided my good-sized balcony into half-laundry area, and half-terrace garden, complete with pet birds, pretty chimes, plants and an inviting day bed/sofa—perfect for getting some air and enjoying my spectacular view of the city.

For all the home-related adventures and travails I have experienced in the past 18 months, one thing is certain: I was happy in my old abode, and I am happy now in my new home. Or I wouldn’t have “fought” for the transition the way I did. I’m all the wiser and “adult” for it, too, so it’s all good! Now go and make the home you have as sweet as can be.


Em Guevara, a long-time lifestyle journalist-turned Professional Life Coach, currently works as a part-time editor and writer at Asian Development Bank.