Design Therapy

Design Therapy

Does your décor reveal your secret anxieties? Never fear—holistic design expert Laura Benko is here.

My work is about helping people connect the dots between their mind, body, and spirit and their home. A lot of my clients don’t realize how their deepest fears can manifest, physically or symbolically, in their living space—whether it’s in the positioning of their mirrors or the clutter on their shelves. The good news is that, when you know what to look for, the manifestations of fear are easy to identify, and removing them leaves you and your home ready for the best to unfold.

Fear of Success/Low Self-Esteem

Symptom: Artwork or mirrors that are unintentionally hung too high, leaving you subconsciously feeling like you can never measure up.

Solution: As a rule of thumb, artwork and mirrors should be 60 inches from center to floor. As you bring everything to eye level, remind yourself that you are setting realistic expectations for yourself. It’s a fresh start for your self-esteem.

Fear of Failure

Symptom: Piles of procrastination and avoidance that take the form of paperwork, clothes, odds and ends, or unfinished to-do lists.

Solution: Focus on being confident with your decisions as you tackle the hardest tasks on your to-do list first. Being organized and clutter free will help you to focus on your strengths and accomplishments.

Fear of Uncertainty

Symptom: A desire to insulate yourself with an excessive amount of belongings, leading to stockpiling and hoarding.

Solution: Remind yourself that you can’t find true security in items that you can buy. Hoarding communicates to your subconscious that you are in need, a message that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Fear of Commitment

Symptom: You put off hanging artwork, selecting paint colors, updating décor, and unpacking boxes, and procrastinate on any big-ticket purchases.

Solution: Make a list of only the things you don’t want in your home (the color red, Southwest décor, clutter, etc.). This creates boundaries while opening possibilities to follow your instincts. Create a budget you can afford, and make your choices when you are in a good mood—not stressed or under pressure.

Fear of Losing Control

Symptoms: A meticulously ordered home where anxiety lurks with the slightest possibility of chaos, disorder, or violated house rules.

Solution: In my home we take off our shoes before we enter, but when guests ask if they should do the same, I tell them “However you are comfortable.” A looser, forgiving home is a more relaxed and joyful place to be. When messes occur, repeat to yourself, “Go with the flow” for five long exhales.

Fear of Change

Symptoms: Décor hasn’t been updated since you moved in, and you haven’t freshened up a single item in eons.

Solution: Start by moving your bed or desk. A new perspective from these two main pieces of furniture can help you literally and figuratively see things differently. Make sure you don’t have your back to the door. You want to feel empowered and be able to see who is entering, not vulnerable or easily startled.

Rearrange Your Mind

When you examine the signs or patterns that show up in your home, pay attention to how it makes you feel. Resistance to implementing a solution or anxiety about addressing a particular issue could be indicators that you’re on the right track.

Use the redesign as a chance to work on yourself, treating your personal living space as a quiet, insightful teacher. Your home is not just somewhere to put your stuff. It’s the place where you heal, grow, restore, dream, work, love, gather, and create memories for a lifetime. Make sure that your surroundings are healthy, uplifting, and inspiring. Your home should be your safe haven where fear does not reside.

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