Your Happy Habitat

Author has some tips on how to decorate and furnish your home to make it just feel good.

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The kitchen. While many kitchens now are multi-thousand dollar showplaces that function as the centerpiece of the home, the kitchen used to be considered a smelly room fit only for servants. "The kitchen parallels women’s history," says Gallagher. "When women had low or no status, the kitchen had no status. Now women have high status and so does the kitchen, but the paradox is that the woman whose paycheck is helping to pay for her $125,000 kitchen doesn’t have time to cook." Rather than judging whether big, showy kitchens are good or bad, Gallagher says, you really need to look at whether or not your kitchen serves your life.

  1. Sit down and figure out how often you actually cook, eat together as a family, or entertain friends for dinner. Do you use your kitchen enough to spend a small fortune remodeling it? "Some people realize, ‘Gee, I’d get more enjoyment out of a spa bath, or maybe I’d rather travel.’"
  2. Don’t make all your decisions based on money. Many people remodel kitchens because they think it’s the best way to get a higher price for their home at resale, Gallagher says. Often, however, buyers will want to redo the kitchen anyway, because it’s a few years old or doesn’t suit their tastes. "If you want to live in your home as if you’re just managing an asset, you’ll make different decisions than if you want to live in your home as an experience in the here and now."

Kathy McCleary is a frequent contributor to HGTV.com.

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