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Interior Designer, Licensed Therapist & SoCal mama of three. Welcome to the blog!  I hope it brings you inspiration to create a life (and home) you really love.


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How To Discover Your Unique Design Identity

March 5, 2024

Building a home is not all about aesthetics. By understanding your unique design identity, you can turn your personal space into a happy and harmonious place that truly resonates with you. In this solo episode, Anita Yokota explains how to strategically design a beautiful home that captures and expresses your authentic self, all while effectively […]

Building a home is not all about aesthetics. By understanding your unique design identity, you can turn your personal space into a happy and harmonious place that truly resonates with you. In this solo episode, Anita Yokota explains how to strategically design a beautiful home that captures and expresses your authentic self, all while effectively combining comfort, functionality, inspiration, and connection.

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here


How To Discover Your Unique Design Identity

We have a solo session on understanding the importance of design identity. How many of you feel confused about a certain spot in your home or feel lost and do not know what style you want or have? As a therapist who’s helped clients make sense of their story for several years and a designer who helps them tell it, it is a profound connection between who we are and what our homes feel and look like.

When I was a young therapist, I did lots of home visits. For the first step into a home, I already knew the emotional climate because physically, I could see the environment to be a chaotic, disorganized, cluttered, or sterile environment that’s clean or non-emotional. These are all clues to me of how that family functioned in the space.

Functionality And Comfort

I became their home organizer and therapist wherever there was an interpersonal conflict. I helped them organize the space and increase their functionality and aesthetics. It went hand in hand. In hindsight, I can see why the homes were impactful to the relationships that lived in them. The layout of a room, the lighting, the furniture, and all these elements can support or detract from our mental health.

Our design identity is a reflection of who we are at our core. It’s about understanding our preferences, our desires, and our unique sense of style, and when we live in these spaces that align with our design identity, we feel more comfortable, more at peace, and more authentically ourselves. This is the reason why I get up in the morning. I love helping people discover who they are, and what better way to discover who we are than in our own homes?

Authenticity And Expression

Our home is a place where vulnerability can be born. It’s scary to be vulnerable. A lot of times, I don’t like it, but I know it’s necessary to pave the road for authenticity. My goal is to have meaningful connections with my family, myself, and others outside of the home. It’s important to me to have a home environment that’s cozy and inviting and fosters improving relationships and connections.

Back to being a therapist and doing all those home visits, I also observed that once we cleared up the chaos, identified the interpersonal conflicts, and made the home environment conducive to more positive interactions, all of a sudden, their stress decreased. They were able to verbalize their needs and wants more effectively. They were able to problem-solve and improve decision-making.

Achieving Clarity

Here’s why it’s important to know your design identity. It’s because your decision-making is cut down to something that’s clear. When you have clarity and focus, you’re not going to be inundated with 5 million paint colors or 6 million tile patterns. Because you’re confident and secure about yourself, there’s no second-guessing, overthinking, fears, or limiting beliefs. It’s more of an effortless process. Your home should be a reflection of who you are and nobody else’s.

When you have clarity and focus, you will never have a difficult time designing your home because you know your identity. You are confident and secure about yourself. Click To Tweet

When your living space aligns with your design identity, it’s a tangible expression of your personal interests, tastes, and personality. Your design identity affects not only aesthetics but also the functionality of your home. By understanding your needs and expectations, you can tailor your space to your lifestyle and enhance everyday experiences. This could be furniture layout, storage solutions, lighting, and everything that contributes to a comfortable and practical living environment.

Your home should be a reflection of who you are and nobody else. When your space aligns with your identity, it becomes a tangible expression of your interests, tastes, and personality. Click To Tweet

Relationships And Connection

Relationships and connections are what fuel me to be your home therapist. You’re not going to feel like someone’s going to judge you when they come over. You’re going to feel like you’re free to host events. You’re confident about it. You are happy to invite people into your home. Your home becomes a welcoming and inviting backdrop for social interactions, fostering meaningful connections with families and friends. Sharing your home becomes a joyous experience where you’re deepening your relationships and creating those core memories.

Sharing your home is a joyous experience where you can deepen relationships and create core memories. Click To Tweet

In my opinion, homes are your creative playground. When you can experiment, take design risks, put yourself out of your comfort zone, and find different patterns that you didn’t think you would like before or try different colors or styles of furniture. A lot of us have these limiting beliefs that once our home is set or we have the perfect picture home, it’s going to stay the same forever, and it’s static.

Life doesn’t work that way. I want it static, but change is the constant. Change is a good thing. What you and your family need now can be different from a year or six months from now. Live in it, experiment, and design your home in the way that you need and thrive. Don’t put anything on hold and don’t hang on to things that don’t work for you anymore.

A Creative Playground

Now that we’ve talked about the importance of design entity, I’m sure you’re asking, “How do I find it?” Here’s the thing. You always have to think about your why or purpose. In my method, I call it the core desire. In this therapy, understanding your core values and motivations is key to personal growth and healing. Clarifying your intention and living environment is fundamental to creating a home that supports your well-being.

Your core desire is the heart and soul of your home. It’s a guiding principle that informs every design decision, from the layout and color scheme to the furniture and décor. Without a clear understanding of what your core desire is, this is where we run into trouble. We start going one way and down a rabbit hole, or we go another way on Pinterest. We confuse ourselves.

All of these things send us into analysis paralysis, and that never helps us. We want a way to free our mind, body, and spirit at home so we can live our best lives. Think of your core desire as the foundation on which your home is built. Your core desire is a compass. It keeps you anchored. Once your design identity has a core desire, you’re not going to go off into tangents about different tiles that you see the next day. Once you make a design decision, you stick with it.

The next question you might have for me is, “I know my core desire. I have a grasp of my design identity. How do I translate that into actionable tasks, decisions, and choices?” I’ve developed a unique home therapy tool. It’s called the intake form. It’s similar to when you first have your therapy session with a new therapist, and you’re getting to know each other.

This form prompts you to ask certain questions like, what feelings do you want your home to evoke? What activities do you engage in most frequently in your home? What values are important to you, and how can they be reflected in your space? How do you envision your ideal lifestyle within your home? By taking the time to complete this intake form, you’re going to gain valuable insights into your design preferences, lifestyle priorities, and underlying motivations. You are gonna feel confident to make design choices that align with your core desire and design identity.

Doesn’t that feel good? Isn’t that exciting? I’m going to share a quick story. My family room is tiny. It’s one of those builder-grade homes that have the kitchen and family room squished together. On the other side, the living room and dining room combo are squished together. The builder decided how our family was going to live. After several years, I was like, “No, my family and I are going to decide how we’re going to live.

I swapped the dining room from the living room combo over into the family room, which is one large, but I call it a mini great room. We have the dining room near the kitchen, and it makes so much more sense. When we discovered, as a family, our core desire, intention, and purpose for the different spaces, and we shuffled it around, it was a game changer. It’s a true reflection of who we are now.

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