How to Craft a Better-for-You Home, According to Designer Anita Yokota

In her new book, designer and licensed therapist Anita Yokota walks readers through how to create a more fulfilling, functional home.

Home Therapy by Anita Yokota and photo of DIY murphy bed on green overlay

Penguin Random House (Left); Edmund Barr (Right); Design: Better Homes & Gardens

When we talk about design, we often focus on complementary color schemes and furniture silhouettes and textures: details that affect how a room looks. How your home makes you feel is a priority much less often—though that is slowly changing, as more people work to add relaxing spaces and other features that help them feel more comfortable at home. Still, there’s so much more to understand about how our homes affect all aspects of our lives, something designer Anita Yokota has been clued in on for years.

Earlier in her career, Yokota worked as a licensed marriage and family therapist. Today, with a popular blog, a totally done-over home, projects featured in publications including Real Simple and Apartment Therapy, and a new book (Home Therapy: Interior Design for Increasing Happiness, Boosting Confidence, and Creating Calm, available starting December 6), Yokota is on a mission to help everyone enrich their lives at home through design, ultimately creating homes that reflect and serve them.

Home Therapy book cover by Anita Yokota

Penguin Random House

“As a therapist who worked with clients for 20 years, I helped them make sense of their narrative,” Yokota tells Better Homes & Gardens. “And now as a designer, I get to help them tell it through their homes.”

While working as a therapist, Yokota noticed how the home often reflected issues her clients were dealing with—a bickering couple might start each morning fighting for space at their shared bathroom sink, for example, kicking off each day with an argument—and developed what she calls the Home Therapy Method: a multi-faceted approach to home decor and organization that makes your home more beautiful, sure, but also helps you create a more fulfilling, functional space that boosts your own life satisfaction.

Yokota’s method—and her book—starts with discovering your Core Desire. (Home Therapy includes a downloadable and printable Intake Form for readers to fill out to help determine their Core Desire.) Your Core Desire is the intention you want to express throughout your home.

“You have to find your why,” Yokota says. “Basically, when I say core desire, it’s finding your why.”

Yokota says common Core Desires include interacting more with family at home, soothing relationships between household members, and even achieving professional or wellness goals. Once you’ve determined your Core Desire—whatever it is—you can move forward with design choices large and small to help you reach it.

Altogether, Home Therapy helps you feel better in your home.

“It’s a different perspective that really enriches our family life and our home life through design,” Yokota says.

Once you understand your Core Desire, Yokota’s path to creating a more fulfilling home requires addressing four key domains—Individual, Organizational, Communal, and Renewal—in ways that speak to and serve you. Home Therapy offers inspirational photos and actionable guides alike to help walk you through the process, no matter what you and your home need right now.

Yokota’s approach is strongly empathetic: “This book is really cool because there’s no judgement about where you are now,” Yokota says.

Anita Yokota

It’s a different perspective that really enriches our family life and our home life through design.

— Anita Yokota

Whether you’re looking to completely remodel your living spaces with the goal of promoting more family (and no-screen) time or you just want to rearrange your kitchen so you can spend less time tidying up and more time working enjoying your hobbies, Yokota’s book offers tips to help—and her approach isn’t limited to major overhauls or a specific design style. Instead, Yokota approaches each of her own design projects on a client-by-client basis.

“I want them to understand their story better, because when they understand their family story and we reflect it into aesthetics, that’s amazing,” she says. “Talk about living your best life at home.”

That flexibility is reflected in the book, which features photographic inspiration (and specific design tips) for spaces of all sizes. Even if you’re just starting to better understand yourself and your home, the Home Therapy method has something for you.

“It’s very fluid, because just as we are human beings in therapy, our homes reflect who we are,” Yokota says. “As a designer, I help the clients really own the home of where they’re at.”

With that in mind, Home Therapy is the sort of book (and method) that shifts with you throughout your life. Any therapy or counseling proponent will tell you that the journey of self-improvement is ongoing, and most designers will agree that a space is never “done”: There’s always space for a new decorative detail or color experiment, and trends (and personal taste) will shift over time. Yokota’s method melds those ongoing processes.

“What I really love about my method and my book is that you can read this book 20 times over in different seasons of your life, and you’re going to go, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Yokota says. “You find something new or you find something that you’ve evolved from, but it doesn’t mean it’s out of date. It’s almost just a personal growth journey.”

You can purchase Home Therapy: Interior Design for Increasing Happiness, Boosting Confidence, and Creating Calm by Anita Yokota online or from a bookstore near you.

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