“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
Whether it is your decision or not, getting a divorce is an unanticipated change in lifestyle which alters the definition of family as we have come to know it and as it has been historically dictated. The biggest concern however, is never for one’s self, but for one’s children.
I realized my role in this project wasn’t simply to design a space, but to help rebuild a home with the hopes and dreams that were yet to come. A home is where we all begin, dream, feel safe, build lives come an go from, it is our safety net where there is both balance and harmony.
After having met with the client, a man in his late 30s, I knew personally the pain and emotional difficulty which was going to be experienced. The question at hand; how is someone supposed to move on with their lives after suddenly being forced to let go of the idea of ‘till death do us part’?
This wasn’t just a ‘design project’, it was the first step of someone’s new life. As I spoke to my client, it was clear to me that what they needed was someone who was going to journey with them through one of the most difficult stages of their lives. Yes, I would be taking on my professional role of deciding paint colour, furniture, and accessories however, I was also going to need to have tissue on hand, to be able to hold their hand through the tough realization that, “this is now my reality.”
I knew first-hand that divorce was synonymous with loss. The loss of what was, what could have been, and what one expects marriage to be, as well as the loss of a home. A change in residences is difficult enough without the additional alteration of the entire family structure. I knew what was required to make these houses into homes and I felt that it was my responsibility to ensure that this family still saw themselves as a family by creating a space where love could continue to foster and memories made.
In this family, the home had traditionally been the domain of the woman and, as such, decisions surrounding decor had been made by the woman of the household. To this newly divorced man, the idea of working, having playdates, moving on with life, and also creating a hospitable home seemed like an unimaginable impossibility. However, with the children spending half of their time with him, it was a necessity. It took a lot for him to accept that, although his family would never again look the way it once had, it would still always be a family.
At the end of the walk through I received a hug, tears, smiles from the kids and the best possible words; “I did not think a home with such warmth was possible, I love it. Thank you for making a home where my kids and I can accept our new lives. Have play dates and do homework. I can now come to accept with time that the life that I knew is gone but not forgo:en, but the life that I have to look forward to is beautiful.”
Yes I cried, Success! My role here wasn’t to simply design a space, but to rebuild a space they now call “my home”.
Eventually there IS solace in chaos.
Tasleem Jessani, Lead Designer at Mango Tango Interiors, strives to achieve a balance of individuality, sustainability and versatility in every project she oversees. “Anywhere you spend time, the experience should offer you continuous growth, suit your needs and reflect your values,” she says.