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Home Decorating After Divorce

Sometimes in life we end up being an expert on something we never planned. Like, if you need help finding the best oat milk latte in Oregon, I’m your gal. And, well, in the last few years we can add home styling after a divorce to my list of skills as well. Not only have I gone through the process myself, transitioning between a few homes and a hot minute in an apartment, I’ve been honored to help other women create their own new chapter after a split. So, here I am, latte in hand with my bag of tricks for decorating after a divorce. 

remodeled kitchen with black cabinets, white tile, and open shelving

And while we might not all be facing this particular life challenge, chances are we might know a friend or family member going through what can only be described as gut wrenching – even on the best day.  If so, they might need or want to see this article, so kindly share. I know I needed all the guidance.

So while decorating might sound trivial, I think it’s more than that. Just like home styling in general, it’s about creating a safe place for your heart. It’s making life as cozy as possible when it might just feel like gravel inside. It’s about paving the way for new chapters and new love. 

1. Clean Slate – In All the Ways

Can we just start with the obvious? I’m a big fan of the obvious, because that’s often the very thing we overlook! 

When styling a home after a big transition like a divorce, I suggest starting with a clean slate. This will look different for everyone. It might mean literally starting over in a new place or it might mean just clearing out all the clutter. 

For me, the very first thing I did was get a new bed. New day, new bed. 

neutral bedroom with rug, nightstand, shelf, curtains, and bed

2. Use Things in New Ways

Ok, we can’t put everything in storage. So what about the items we keep? They likely hold their own memories. So depending on the furniture item, we might think about it in different ways. Or, we might even think of the entire space in a new way.

Maybe we use it differently. Like a bench becomes a console. Or a previously shared dresser gets painted and takes on new life (that’s what I did with the one below!). 

I’ve found this can help create a bit of emotional distance with the item and the memories. 

black painted dresser in a bedroom

3. Resist Copy & Paste

When deciding how to style our space after moving on, it can be tempting to just replicate what was there.

We likely had a certain decor style together with that person. Maybe entire rooms we really loved. It can be tempting to just hit Ctrl-C and paste that entire version into your new space. 

But, I think it’s important to mix things up. Sure, maybe you keep that same style but avoid just replicating what once was. Not only does that keep you in the past, it can be unsettling all around.

4. Try a New Technique 

So, this brings me to the next tip of home styling after divorce. Try something new! Maybe you always wanted to paint a black accent wall (never met one I didn’t love!) or you’re actually leaning towards a whole Coastal vibe. 

Now’s the time! 

Decorating after divorce is all about trying something new and seeing what feels authentic to you.

5. Accept the Casualties of Divorce 

There were a lot of pieces pre-divorce that I absolutely loved. They had meaning. They were beautiful. They were part of our home.

Like the vintage captain’s chairs I scoured all over the state to find. Or the lovely china cabinet which was our first actual grown up furniture purchase together. Or the hand painted original artwork of the artist I found in a California coffee shop. 

Just like the relationship itself. It’s ok to grieve these things. It’s not silly or trivial. It’s just time to find new pieces and make new meanings. 

What’s your home decor style?

6. Embrace symbolism 

Call me a hippie, I don’t care. But I firmly believe there’s a lot of good that can come from embracing the symbolism of creating a new space

At home, I think this means getting out the sage to clear out old feelings. Or maybe investing in houseplants to legit watch something grow.  Maybe it’s putting up photos of yourself with your kids, friends, and family so you can literally see yourself happy and loved. 

office nook with desk, chair, and artwork

7. Consider Neutral

Another tip for decorating is to consider going neutral. I mean, I love neutral decor with or without a divorce (wink). However, I found that my monochromatic ways also made transitions a whole lot easier. 

No colors to match or hues to tackle. No bright yellows to stare at on days I felt absolutely blue. Neutral decor made it easier to transition from one phase to another.

8. Focus on Comfort

Ok, rounding it out with what maybe also feels obvious but in the midst of a major life transition our brain doesn’t always think of these things, so I’m saying it here. 

Of course, I’m all about function. That’s one of my design mantras. However, when you’re decorating after divorce, it’s time to take comfort to the next level

That will look different for everyone. For me, it means a bench to see the sunrise every morning and blankets to wrap up in every night on the couch. It means mugs and cups and fruit bowls in the kitchen where my teenage boys gravitate. It means a lovely tea and coffee station for me and my daily comforts.

decorating after divorce

Well, there we go. I hope this lands where it needs to and helps others create space for their new chapters. Decorating after divorce is not easy, but there are bright spots ahead.

If you need more support, this list of divorce resources might also help.

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