HOME | Step 2. Environmental scan


This step is all about accessing a starting point in order to outline how to get to the final destination - a house that feels like a home, based on the current situation and means available. So after establishing what I am going for, it's time take a moment and look inside: What do I like in my house? Can I maximize it? What are the features I don't like? Can I change them or integrate them in a way I'll enjoy it more? How much money do I have available for this? And how much time will I be able to dedicate to this project?

What do I like in my house? Can I maximize it?

1. Location.

I simply love to live here, between these particular mountains. I can't imagine living happier anywhere else. One of my earliest childhood memories is linked to the first time I visited Alentejo, which is a beautiful lowland place in Portugal. I remember feeling a strange sense of inadequacy the whole time I was there. I was missing something, but I couldn't figure out what. Upon returning, I realized: it lacked the mountains in the horizon. Since then, every return to these mountains feels like a come back home. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, and that's a major point for this house to become my home.

*** Just looking outside the window makes me feel I am I where I'm supposed to be ***

2. Memories.

Eight years is enough time to create memories. One room isn't just one room, but all the little moments lived there, much contributing to the home feeling I’m trying to achieve.

*** Displaying mementos and/or photos could enhance this feeling ***

3. Garden.

The WHY we bought a house instead of an apartment. It was a major choice, divergent from everyone close to us, but one that I don't regret for a minute. It allows some life quality for our pets (enter rule #1 - consider everyone’s needs), and now it's great for my son as well. I use it mainly for resting, but I would love growing flowers and vegetables there in time.

*** I must free up time in my schedule, either by abandon or devote less time to current activities ***

What are the features I don't like? Can I change them or integrate them in a way I'll enjoy it more?

1. Our house is too big for our family.

It means so much time cleaning, and tidying... it invites having more things, as they can easily be put aside and out of sight. I don't want to sound ungrateful, as I know space is a valuable thing. However, I think that there's a point when space doesn't add to your happiness, instead it diverts you from the things that matter the most. I've always lived with the idea that a home is never finished (and tidying is forever), but right now I want to finish this house and establish that those empty spaces are supposed to stay empty and will stay empty.

*** The house needs to be decluttered ***

2. Bad flow.

One that does not think flow matters never lived in a house with poor flow situation. Take, for instance, our laundry state of affairs: The bedrooms are in the second floor, the washing machine on the basement and the drying lines in the garden, parallel to the first floor. (This is actually a common arrangement in Portuguese houses, I can only imagine that the architects never do laundry on their own…) Anyway, now picture me carrying loads of closes down the stairs and, down the stairs again, and (when I don’t forget the clothes were there) up the stairs, over and over again, cursing this situation every time. (Sorry for this little rambling about laundry, but you see, it’s the little details that make your life easier that are important, wouldn't you agree?)

*** Consider little changes to house arrangements to make it more practical ***

3. Poor lighting.

Who doesn't want a home flooded with natural light? I thought I was getting it, but the reality is that the house is quite dark, or darker than I wish, at least.

*** Find ways to let more light in ***

4. Wood trim everywhere.

I have mismatched feeling about our wood trim, doors, kitchen cabinets, and fireplace. I love wood, but I feel it’s too much and it darkens the house.

*** Consider painting the trim ***

5. Floors.

Floors must be made of wood, real wood preferably. I’m able to accept other material for the kitchen and bathrooms, but I’m sure I’ll never grow into to like our ceramic living room floors. The solution I have for now is to cover a large part of the floor with rugs.

*** Change the floors ***

6. We have been dealing with humidity problems for the past few years. Probably due to the place itself (there were once lagoons here…) and/or poor construction, we can’t be sure, but solving this problem has been our major priority. I'm hoping we finally got rid of it, but only time will tell. Currently, the house holds the scarce of the disease, and it’s dreadful to look at our damp walls.

*** Paint the walls ***



Some of the problems would be easy to solve if we had unlimited budget – which we don´t.  So, we will have to make choices on where we'll be applying our money, considering what we need the most and trying to be creative towards the rest.


Ideally, there should be a magic trick to hold on life while we tackle big projects. But life insists on keep going and so must we, the only solution will be to take small actions one at a time, and find a way to keep motivated through the process.


  1. Asking all the right questions! I made a scrapbook of ideas and finding it some years and a lot of hard work later am delighted to find I have more or less achieved what I wanted. Of course it is never finished....good luck!

    1. Such a good realization, I can only imagine. I will definitely be needing some good luck by my side...