London – “There are 51 images of women in your home,” interiors therapist Suzanne Robson informs me. “They’re strong, iconic women. But they’re all single.”
Oh heavens, I look around my living room. There are four large paintings and prints of lone women, plus a huge Japanese textile emblazoned with a woman’s face, not to mention jugs, vases and cushions decorated with women. I love images of women in art, from Frida Kahlo and Tracey Emin to Marlene Dietrich. They make me feel I’m surrounded by a warrior army.
But I hadn’t realised there were quite so many. “It’s the interior of a strong single woman,” Suzanne says. “But what it’s telling people is: ‘I’m fine on my own. I don’t need anybody else. I am perfectly comfortable as I am. Don’t mess with me’.”
Aha. That may explain things. A date I invited around for drinks recently was rendered speechless by my decor. And he’s an architect. Which did make me a bit thoughtful. Am I unconsciously saying there’s no room for a man in my life?
Clearly I need an intervention. And Suzanne Robson, 52, who runs ClutterFree.coach, is the woman to help. “When I’ve finished fine-tuning things, there will be room for a man to be here with you,” she promises.
Suzanne believes “interior therapy” can help us move forward into a new chapter of our lives. Our decor isn’t just about aesthetics; we need to address the psychological and spiritual need for change.
Subconsciously we’re holding on to the past if we don’t reassess after a break-up or major life change.
She practises the KonMari method, developed by decluttering queen, Marie Kondo, where you throw away bags full of excess stuff. But she’s also a qualified life coach specialising in an emotional overhaul of your home or workspace after a break-up and at other “times of transition”.
Interior therapists are fashionable. Jennifer Aniston allegedly wanted to “purge” her estranged husband Justin Theroux from the Bel Air home they once shared, and hired an interior therapist to help her reclaim the space and cleanse it from anything significant decided on as a couple.
“Time to ditch the negative memories and move on,” says Suzanne, who arrives with black bin liners tied with glitter and a white orchid in a pot, symbolic of the rebirth of my home.
The funny thing is I was actually feeling quite proud of my flat. After I split with my ex five years ago, my friend Geraldine, who runs a small design business, persuaded me to remodel my rather chaotic interior as a female palace.
She helped bring in light and colour with bold feature wallpaper, rugs, and quirky furniture.
The piece de resistance in the living room is a new portrait. Last year artist Philippa Stockley asked me to sit for a portrait for a competition. She posed me against a brilliant vintage wallpaper Geraldine found on eBay. My friends loved it so much, they persuaded me to buy it. It’s striking – you feel like you’ve come to a slightly bonkers stately home.
But I have noticed straight male guests eyeing it narrowly. Am I living in a manrepeller house?
So what I can do to make my home more loveable? Suzanne says the trick is to clear and streamline. Hanging on to things can be detrimental, she says, as she wanders through my interior, identifying emotional triggers that hold me back. Dear reader, there are a lot.