At Home With Love

02/15/2011 06:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Happy post-Valentine's Day to all my fellow SoulSpacers.

For those of you who are new to my column, last month I wrote about the 8-step home/self-improvement process I developed for the clients of my architecture and design firm TempleHome.

I explained it in this way --

The process I use to help my clients decode their homes is called SoulSpace; the home that you recreate after really mining yourself and your desires for clues is also called your SoulSpace, because it is the space where your soul can grow, develop, learn, be nurtured, and recharge.

On more than a few occasions, I've worked with clients who are doing great professionally but are unlucky in love. Part of my job is to help them understand how the choices they are making in the design of their home are unconsciously reinforcing the frustrations they may be experiencing in their romantic lives.

To illustrate the point, I thought I would share a story about Lili. This is an excerpt from my new book SoulSpace -- Inspiring Personal Transformation Through Conscious Design, which will be released by New World Library later this year.

What Is Your Home Trying To Tell You?

Lili is a successful woman who owns her own beautiful home. But when she called me, she sounded frustrated and hopeless. She was happy at work but miserable at home. So she reached out to me to see what we could do to change the situation.

When I arrived, we sat down and talked for a while before walking around the house looking for clues to her unhappiness. She explained to me that purchasing the home was a big symbol to her that she had arrived. Now that she was there, though, she had a new dream: to fall in love. She had the home, but she wanted to share it with someone. Attractive and lively, Lili often dated, but none of her relationships lasted. After a string of failed attempts at love, she had just about given up.

Lili takes good care of what she owns, and everything is kept tidy and in its place. As we moved through her home, assessing and observing, I noticed that her home, and her life, were perfectly set up -- for one person. Lili's bed was pushed up against the wall, making it awkward for a second person to get in and out comfortably. The living room featured a couch that was gorgeous but awkward to sit on. I asked her about it.

"I don't mind," she told me. "I usually just sit in that chair."

The chair was soft and luxurious. I could see why she liked it. But it was also obvious to me that there wasn't room for anybody but her to feel comfortable in that house.

Decoding the Message

I asked her why she thought she still didn't have the love she wanted. She said that she didn't know. I asked her when she had last had a lover over. She thought about it. "Not for a while," she said. "In my last relationship, we usually ended up staying at his house."

I knew that Lili loved her house, and dreamed of settling in it with a partner. I wanted her to see what I saw: her house was big enough for four, but comfortable only for one. We walked back into the bedroom.

"Lili," I said. "What do you see when you look around this room?"

"A room," she said. "Just... a bedroom."

"How many people can get in and out of that bed comfortably?" I asked her.

"One," she said.

We walked into the living room.

"How many people would enjoy sitting in her for a few hours?"

"One," she said, starting to get my point.

As we moved around the apartment, identifying all of the places where she could create space to invite someone else in, Lili began to realize that perhaps the reason she didn't have men over was because there really wasn't room for them. When she took a fresh look at her space, she was able to see that what seemed logical -- creating a space for one person since she was only one person -- didn't leave any room for the possibility that she would soon have another person in her life. She had unconsciously organized her personal space to support her single life.

Creating Your Dreams

Identifying the way that Lili had been approaching her life during ASSESS helped us focus our redesign. During the RELEASE phase, we got rid of her one-table dining set in preparation for the larger, more companionable set to come. In the CLEANSE phase, while going through some old boxes, she found some photos of herself looking especially lovely and put one of them in a conspicuous place as a reminder of what an attractive, desirable woman she was. DREAM allowed her to focus on her intention during this renovation: to create a home where others could feel cherished and welcomed. To that end, she decided that she wanted not one but two comfortable sitting chairs. Since she loved to read, and hoped to find a partner who shared that quiet joy, she asked that we make sure to provide ample reading light to make both a truly enjoyable experience. In the DISCOVER phase, she looked for lamps that gave light in two directions, and when when we found her perfect seating, she knew it immediately. Instead of looking at the big name department stores like Lili used to do, we focused our attentions on romantic looking period furniture at consignment shops and auctions; to Lili, the velvet chairs we found made her feel like "falling in love," and since this was what we were aiming for, I knew the chairs were perfect. Other pieces we got that were directly related to the clues we discovered during the assessment included a romantically inclined breakfast nook for two and a big bed with two nightstands and two lamps. We prepared her home for companionship, trusting that if she opened her space up, love would come calling. We made sure that the space was inviting and available for someone else to step in.

By listening to the message that was coded in the way her home was organized, Lili was able to make a huge breakthrough in her romantic life. Making room for someone else physically made her realize that she also had to make room in her heart, and it didn't take long before both nightstands were stacked with books.

Now it's your turn --

Valentine's Day should be a reminder of how you could be living everyday in your home.

Have you taken care to make your space romantic and loving for yourself and your special someone?

It's the little things that matter most: lighting candles, buying fresh flowers, keeping a little box of special chocolates somewhere in your house or putting on some beautiful music that inspires you and stirs the romance in your heart.

By being conscious of this you will make sure that your home is a place where you can celebrate your love.

Most importantly, remember to do something special and loving not only on Valentine's Day but EVERY DAY.

With love,


Xorin Balbes is an award-winning architectural conservator, designer and philanthropist and founder of the design firm TempleHome. Do you have any questions for Xorin about your home? Drop us a line at or check out the Temple Home blog.