At eighteen I moved to a house of my own and I remember, for a while, being alarmed at having such a large space to fill with myself and so little of what I was sure of to fill it with. The clutter of flatmates and life and text books and juggling balls helped. A husband, dog and two kids put an end to the problem that was filling vacant spaces. Gradually, you grow a accustomed to a gradual spreading of both their things and yours, the important and the mundane, throughout the entire house.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve found your bedroom has molded to the bland purpose it’s technically intended for… it’s the room where your bed is. The place where you keep your clothes. Just another functional space in your house.
I’ve been mulling over this one lately as I attempt to create some boundaries between myself and my kids. It’s a strategy I’m using against my own sense of burn out, something I’m trialling in an attempt to temper my own irritation at them.
For the first time since my son was born, I’m taking back my space. My bedroom is becoming my own again. I need a second sanctuary for when it’s wet or cold or windy or dark and I can’t float around my fairy garden.
In first world reality, a few hours at IKEA and a chunk out of my savings account could have had this problem KO’ed in a weekend. But flat packs and cheap mass–produced plastics seem to be an anti thesis to the ‘returning to self’ initiative I’m undertaking. I decide to take a slightly more old fashioned, sustainable approach to interior design and decoration.
The first step is sourcing some replacement furniture for the desk and dressing table I’ve had for the last twelve years. Both are still in quite good condition, and they are at least fifty years old. They go under the house, into storage until I can strip and repaint them for my son’s room.
The new furniture is sourced from the same place I’ve been getting a lot of my forty eight legs from, ever since I first left home– the continually revolving pool of family decor. It’s a collection of furniture bought new or hand made by my mum’s side of the family at some point in the last hundred years. Since purchase or production, this mismatched house and half full of tables, chairs, bed frames, blanket boxes, dressing tables, lounge chairs and wardrobes have been passed, free of charge, from parents to children, grandparents to grandchildren, siblings to their kin. When not in use, various pieces of it are stored in garages and sheds, ready to be dusted down and sanded if necessary, and shipped off to whoever was in need. It’s a way of continuing that sustainability we’re always banging on about in a way that’s practical and useful.
|Maori marriage painting.|
In addition to new(ish) furniture, I’ve done a bit of a shuffle of the pictures and paintings on my walls. Some of my favorite things hang in my room. I have a marriage painting done for Tony and I by a Maori friend of ours. He had it sent home to be blessed by the leader of his tribe before it was given to us. The spiral in the centre is man– the black– and wife– the brown– and the four designs in the corners are the four winds of the earth. It’s painted with the intention that the winds work to push the man and woman closer together, to make the spiral tighter, rather than blow them apart.
I’ve also got some 1930′s French pseudo–porn I picked up at an opshop, felt Lori, and a bookcase with my apothecary supplies and odds and ends– jewelry from friends, crockery from Shed Five, sentimental presents and my prized vintage style Monopoly wooden boxed set.
|Spot the French pseudo-porn.|
I decide to add a photo of Tony and the kids– there aren’t many of them, and I’m still choosing which one I prefer– and one of the shots I had done just recently– I’m just slightly excited about them, and there is a blog post coming very soon. I source funky, chunky wooden frames from the op shop and find new places to hang them. I also pick up a soft light lamp and a colorful sarong to replace the faded waffle blanket covering the old arm chair I use to lay my clothes out on.
When I first moved into my flat, my house mate and I were obsessive about moving the furniture in tiny lounge room. It was a bit like playing Tetris, trying to shuffle a dining and lounge room’s furnishings into a space not much bigger than the bedroom I have now. Despite the difficulty of the task– and the fact that we often failed miserably and shoved everything back into its original position at sundown after a day of fruitless rearrangements– it never failed to leave both of us feeling refreshed. Walking out first thing in the morning to a new view is good for the brain, even if it’s just the fact that your lounge is against a different wall.
With this in mind, I push the furniture in my room around, change the perspective just a little. I dust and wipe down everything, clean the mirrors and give the floor a better vacuum than its had since I moved in. I go throw my drawers and my wardrobe, putting clothes I no
longer wear either into the rag bag or in a garbage bag to go to the local Vinnies.
|Attempting to recreate that website look in real life…|
|Close. Not exact, but close. Win.|
And then I attack my sleep space… my bed. The same bed I shared with my husband– we’d bought it only twelve months before he passed away and the mattress is so comfortable, there was no way I was replacing it. And besides, while it was emotionally painful to sleep on those first few months; as of now it feels as though all the good vibes, all the nights we held each other and those other nights where there were four of us packed in, all the whispered conversations in fertile darkness… this mattress holds all of those memories, all of those blessings, and more.
I turn and flip the mattress and vacuum it ruthlessly. I wash my pillows, dry them in the sunshine and fluff them out, adding a few drops of lavender oil to the rinse; then do the same with my thick, warm woolen doona cover.
Living with grandmother for a few years when I was a teenager was a lesson in economics learnt fifty years at the height of the Depression, when money was scant and families both sensible and resourceful. She valued things of quality that she budgeted to be able to purchase– and, like so many woman of her generation, linen was considered an essential that was worth investing in. After all, you used it for life and spent two thirds of every day laying on or between it. If there was anything worth the extra expenditure, it was that. As we know, I love all that old–fashioned nanna stuff, and my inner hippy laps it up. It seems only logical that if I’m going to reuse old made-to-last furniture, I should at the very least invest in some linen that will be comfortable, look good, feel a little like every-day pampering and last a lifetime; rather than continuing the false thriftiness I’ve had going on for a few years now and buying ten dollar on special sheet sets from Big W that become threadbare and pilly after two washes, have shot elastic at the corners and are all too easy to put your feet through, especially if you don’t cut your toenails often enough. All those cheap and nasty sheets, added up… had I just bought myself something cotton and high thread count back in the day, it would certainly have paid off.
I had all this on my mind a month or so ago when I got an email from an Aussie online company called I Love Linen. I Love Linen is run by Lauren and her mum. The are passionate about making quality, lasting linen accessible to everyone the way it was thirty years ago. There’s something nostalgic about I Love Linen, and that’s an oddity for an online store unless you are all of twelve years old. It’s not so much the site itself. It’s having Lauren personally answering emails and actually being interested in your response when she asks ‘How are you?’. It’s that ILL are more interested in people than profits.
It’s the simple fact that the packages come wrapped in brown paper and string (because these are a few of my favorite things).
Having some insight into my desperate love of sleep, Lauren at I Love Linen sent me one of their 1000 thread count doona covers and, after I said pretty please, a bed runner to set off the whole look (I know– I’ve never had one either. And I even remember to put it back on every morning).
So, jellybeans. If I’m inspired, I like others to come along with me… it’s more fun that way. Let’s play a game of re–magination. I’d love to see the key pieces you either have used, or would use, to recreate your bedroom into a space that is just yours again– a home for your soul. Tell me about the furniture, the colour, the decos and wall art. And pick yourself out some luxurious, good quality sheets that will last a lifetime and actually make you look forward to going to bed for reasons other than just passing out from exhaustion.
Either leave me the details of what you’d love in a comment on this post; or leave me a link to where you’ve blogged, InstaGrammed, Tweeted, FBed or Flickred your ideas. Bonus points for collages (if you are among the PicMonkey uninitiated, their collage tool is way awesome) and creativity. And, of course, make sure you include what sheets you’d pamper yourself with…
Because that’s what we’re winning here– I’ve got three $50 gift vouchers from I Love Linen to give away. I’ve also got two sets of Ambrosia teapots and teacups with some strawberry tea with which to sit back, relax and enjoy your sacred space.