Design Your Home to Achieve Your Dreams

A few areas that make my heart flutter; design, personal development and travel.

Besides my family, there are a few areas that make my heart flutter with excitement; design, personal development, and travel. An odd blend, but what can I say, they’re mine. And recently after gulping down two personal development books I figured out, with the help of my dear husband, how to blend all my loves into one not-so-neat package. I’m calling it Custom Haus for the moment. We’ll see if it sticks.

First, let me share the inspiration. The two books are The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Atomic Habits by James Clear. Both authors dive into the science behind how habits work and why they can be so incredibly hard to change as adults. Did you know that by the age of 35, we are mostly running on old programs? I can thank Joe Dispenza for this tidbit of data, as his youtube videos endlessly run as the backdrop to my daily real estate adventures. Although we think we’re making decisions all day, really we’re not. The body gets hard-wired over time (don’t worry, we can change the programs) and we act in the ways that have served us in the past without a whole lot of thought as to serving our current or future self.

According to James Clear, every day we spend about 40 to 50 percent of our time running on our habits—behaviors that run on autopilot and are triggered by cues in our environment or internally by subconscious memory associations. He calls it habit stacking. 

Example: Alarm goes off (trigger). You turn it off (trigger). You pick your phone up off the nightstand and check your Facebook (trigger). Twenty minutes later, you’re late (trigger) so you speed through your shower (trigger), pre-order your Starbucks (trigger) and race out the door.

This would be an example of habit stacking you may not want. Here’s an example you may prefer:

The alarm goes off (trigger). You turn it off (trigger). You pick up your phone and headphones and listen to a ten-minute meditation (trigger). You write three things you’re grateful for in your journal and make an intention for the day (trigger). Your pre-programmed coffee maker begins the drip downstairs while you shower (trigger). You pour your coffee in a to-go cup and head to work arriving ten minutes early.

Each trigger point is linked to behavior and if we’re not intentionally choosing these trigger points, we’re often in a spin of unconscious behaviors that may or may not serve our goals, visions, and dreams for our lives.

Charles Duhigg really hit me hard in the science behind, The Power of Habit. My biggest takeaway was learning how the brain functions to make us more efficient by going into autopilot (your drive home from the market without remembering how you got there). This allows you to problem solve a situation with your child or a work scenario that needs to be sorted while you drive. The brain means us no harm, it’s trying to help and make us more efficient even!

However, after a lifetime of repeated behaviors, that started when we were small children mind you, we revert to habits that may not be in our best interest. Do you ever notice how you eat like you ate when you were a kid when visiting your parents? Suddenly your gluten-free commitment goes out the window as you scoff down mom’s lasagna. You get the point here.

This concept sent me into a thinking tailspin when recently on a family RV trip for 30 days, away from my normal, everyday habits and routine. Another essential piece to this puzzle. Travel or breaking up the routine allows for new thought processes to enter our minds, helping us to literally see with new eyes. We literally can't revert to our programs, right?

My husband and I sat at one of our favorite spots in Napa, Brix. What makes Brix so magical is they have their own gardens and vineyards. So on a good weather day, you can eat on the back patio while gazing out to the origin of your meal. Our kids were in summer camp, our dogs were at a doggie hotel in town and it was just the two of us after a cramped couple of weeks in a much-too-small-for-a-family-of-six RV.

We happen to be building a house back home in Austin at the time. My husband is an insanely talented designer and we often talk design or whatever project we’re working on. He’s the designer/architect of the project and I was sharing the details of the two books with him when it hit me like a bolt of lightning. What if our new home was designed to support our goals? What if we implemented the tools in the books to literally design the home of our dreams?

He got it right away. We shouted out examples to one another to the dismay of the other guests… we could have a mobile in our bedroom (artfully designed, of course) that was the first thing we saw when we woke up and it had our goals visible for us to see…. my meditation station could be bedside so I literally roll onto the floor to start my day… our journal stations were built into the nightstands so there’s no avoiding them… a yoga mat, my husband’s bike, and our sneakers hang in the mudroom so we see them as we enter and exit the house each day… a cabinet with a lock, in the pantry so we have to pull out a key to get the cookies… and on and on we went.
Well, it’s been a couple of months since that trip and our home is still being built but I think we’re on to something. Build a home with your chosen daily customs built into the decor. And accessorize with objects of meaning.

We love to travel and my husband’s birthday was just before we left for the RV trip. He’s a tough one to buy for. He has everything and doesn’t like it when I spend too much money or make a big deal out of his special day. So I bought three dual-sided, minimal, acrylic frames with the idea that we would find a few beautiful flowers on our journey. We could press them in books we purchased along the way and mount them in their frames in our new home to remind us of our RV adventure.

We’ve been making similar purchases over the years on our travels but we’re also both creative, visual types and we’ve often bought items for our home that just looked nice. And I’ll tell you when it just looks nice but doesn’t have meaning, we may buy it twice. It doesn’t resonate the same way as an item with significance. It just doesn’t.

I remember when I first met my husband and I walked into his apartment for the first time, he had a tiny, beautifully designed living room with two shelves full of items from his international travels. Although his home was definitely well executed for a twenty-eight-year-old (score!), these shelves stood out to me the most. They gave me insight into who he was. He shared stories about where the pieces came from and what they meant to him. It made me fall in love with him just a little more and served as a daily reminder to his younger self that life wasn’t only about work, it was about following his passion to travel. He “got it” even back then as I believe really talented designers do.

I’ve also had the experience of walking in the homes of my clients in New York and Los Angeles and experiencing seriously stunning homes. Without sounding haughty, I’ve worked with many celebrity clients. But time and again there was often a sense of emptiness in some of these masterfully executed homes. The soul of the family or person was often missing. Yes, they looked great in photos but the character wasn’t there.

This brings me to the real point of this Custom Haus concept. We can move through our lives on autopilot or we can choose to be present. We may even look great in photos but find there is an emptiness in our spirit. There is. Our brains are trying to help us but they may need to pause while we take the time and do the work of designing the life and the person and the habits of who we are first, then go about truly living the life of our dreams. 

To learn more about Natasha, check her out here. Curious about her incredibly talented husband? You can find out about him here.

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For Natasha, residential real estate is more than just finding a house to live in, it’s about building a lifestyle in the right home and community for oneself and family.

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