Relishing the bells and whistles of a new, custom-designed space: the Eau soaking tub, hand-carved for each custom order, and complimentary Wave pedestal and Roma vessel sink in Carrara marble. Products and photo courtesy Stone Forest, Santa Fe

You’re finally in your new space and are trying out all the bells and whistles. How much fun to play with the soft-close kitchen drawers, brew a perfect cup of coffee in the built-in coffee maker, and take a spa-like eucalyptus steam shower. But, it’s almost inevitable that there will be some anxiety and frustration as well. We are creatures of habit, and your new space will bump up against engrained neural paths: how your brain expects your space to be. How do you live with and maintain that new-house luster and move forward living your new interior story?

We don’t often consider how many mundane things our brain manages for us on auto-pilot: grabbing a water glass in the upper right cabinet, expecting a door to swing right; and working at a counter at a slightly different height — cabinets in older homes are often set lower than the current standard of 34 to 36 inches. Your new space may challenge all of these ingrained habits. But remember, the changes were most likely made by your design team to increase functionality, add performance, improve aesthetics, or a combination of those. From experience, these kinds of changes take some adjustment time, but also, as we like to tell clients, scientists assure us that changing habits and pattered behavior is good for brain health!

Just like a new car, all the sparkly new finishes and fabrics in your space require care and upkeep to keep them looking and performing their best. Designer pro tip: Take notes when the contractor is reviewing tricks and best practices, and start a binder for storing all the new manuals and instructions for easy reference. It’s items like how to keep your new glass shower glass door crystal-clear that you want to learn about early on. This collected information is critical to share with housekeepers, caretakers, or others who are likely to need it.

After months of focus, anxiety, and high energy during the life of your project, you may notice a shift on moving in. Your interior is remarkably empty of crews coming and going, the constant chatter, and the daily deluge of questions coming from all sides. While this is probably a welcome relief, it might also feel too quiet, too quickly. We have noticed almost of bit of separation anxiety at this point in a project even though this is the moment you have been dreaming about. Don’t panic! Not too far into the future is that warm, nesting feeling where your space goes from a construction site to being all yours.

And of course, take a close look around your space and enjoy the many stories that you, your designers, your builders and craftspeople, and everyone else on the team incorporated into your own: the steel fabricator who crafted that one-of-a-kind sink vanity; the unbelievably meticulous tilesetter who took care to get the layout and cuts just so; and the decorative plasterer who spent days working a hard trowel getting the sheen to perfection. And, no it’s not really over. You’ll need eventually to consider what adding to your story looks like and how to develop its patina.

Also, as you spend time in your new space, you will probably notice walls, corners, and other surfaces that still could use more attention. It could be art, bedding or other linens — things that you may have deferred, waiting to see how the larger picture would unfold. These are opportunities for working with your designer to continue developing your story.

Heather Van Luchene, ASID, and Steffany Hollingsworth, ASID, are partners in HVL Interiors, LLC, an interior-design firm offering professional residential and hospitality design services. Both are New Mexico-licensed interior designers. They can be reached at (505) 983-3601 or info@hvlinteriors.com.

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