The names are so evocative: Sobek, Fern Court, Fowler’s Olive… After spending the morning playing around with colour options for our new dining room I had finally narrowed the choice from this selction of olive greens. They are laid out on the table that will be in this room so I can see how the wood and colour will work together.

olive swatches


I merrily trotted off to my favourite paint shop with my head full of images of lush, natural, leafy hues brought to life with a contrasting shot of russet orange (another story…) Only to find it was unexpectedly closed for the day – hmm, what now?

olive lidsIn the past I have tried unsuccessfully to match ‘fancy’ paints with Dulux and the subtlety of hue is always an issue;but recently I noticed the Leyland range of paints has a broad spectrum with some subtle variations and today I found some practically identical matches. Large samples on lining paper are currently drying to test out in situ.

But these are called S5010-G70Y and S5020-G70Y. Somehow not quite as catchy. And the ‘snot’ and ‘sludge’ description my son gave them is even worse… maybe green is not such a good choice after all!

This reminded me of a time I was visiting a friend to talk through her future building plans. As she hurried me past a busy looking room with an embarrassed “That room is just a disaster!” it ocurred to me that was an area that was causing her more immediate concern and irritation. She was so tied up with her vision of the future that she had given up with the here and now.

The room was a busy room – it was functioning as a playroom, children’s art space, piano room and her work zone and was called ‘the study’.

Now, a study to me brings images of a quiet and studious atmosphere; calm, organised, space for deep logical thought. No wonder this space was casuing her some anxiety. We put a plan in place but I also suggested she re-frame it in her mind as “The Activity Room”.

A week later she emailed me full of enthusiasm. Having devoted some time to a thorough edit of the toys and games that had been accumulating, re-arranged some furniture and even cleaned the rug she was already feeling more positive about the space.

“I knew doing that would make me feel better” she commented, “but I have been so surprised at the change in my thinking just at your suggestion of calling the room our Activity Space. Even the children enjoy using it more and I don’t find it so frustrating when it gets busy and a bit messy. That’s its purpose now and it feels right for us.”

That’s quite a big improvement from the frustration she felt before!

Re-framing is a tried and tested psychological technique and NLP therapists often use it with clients to encourage a new, more postive way of thinking.

So paint companies can use it to encourage you to buy snot green paint, and changing your language can radically affect how you feel about something. What can you re-frame in your home buy using new words to change how you feel about a space?

This isn’t a way to avoid any change you may need to make about the way you live and the way you use a space. More about being kind to yourself and realistic about the type of home that works best for you. Accepting the reality of living with small children, time constraints and your expectations is the first step in planning a way to live with fewer frustrations.

I’d be really interested to hear if this works for you, let me know in the comments below…




2 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. Food for thought ! We have a ” middle room” between kitchen and lounge. It has the dining room table in which we only really use when there is more than 2 of us around. It’s the room where stuff gets dumped on table when it’s not in use so often gets full of washing, post,bike parts and the odd cat sneaks in amongst it all ! Often a real mess ! I find myself getting frustrated with this dumping ground. . . . Maybe I need to reframe it ? To what ? ………..

  2. Perfect example Jayne! It sounds like a very useful space but one that is lacking identity. Notice what builds up – post needs a set place where you can sort it out – where does this happen? Washing is a fact of life that needs attention – if here is a good place to do the irong then can you create a more permanent place for it so that it feels ‘at home’ rather than out of place? Do you have storage in this room that you can check and re-use for some of the activities that actually happen here? And then it’s a question of what you would like it to be – sounds like a Projects Room to me!

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