Some Kind Of Tiny, Sacred Space For Me.

by Lori Dwyer on August 20, 2012 · 21 comments

When I was a teenager, my bedroom was a holy place, an sanctuary. It was the only place that was mine. I could decorate it as I saw fit (within the reasonable confines of budget, imagination and parental discretion, naturally). I made the rules. I chose the music that played, the posters on the walls. It was the space where I nursed my adolescent heartache. It was the only place I had an element of control. It was where I built my sense of sense, the place where I could push boundaries and experiment with what I liked, as far as form and function went. As an insecure teenage girl, my bedroom was where I learnt who I was.

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.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

marybelle September 5, 2012 at 9:55 pm

A bedroom has to be cosy & welcoming. I found an image of how I would love my bedroom to FEEL. Warm & inviting with the most amazing light & ceiling.

The SAND PEBBLE BLOCK COLOUR 1000 thread count would be perfect in my attic hideaway.



Amanda Hardy August 28, 2012 at 9:09 am

My current doona cover and pillow set has been washed exactly once and is so obnoxiously pilly I can't stand the touch of it. I got it because it was cheap, and now it's making me feel cheap. I hate that.

For my sacred space, I made a book nook at the end of the bed – a spot between two bookshelves, with my sewing rainbow on top of it. Those threads that I got from the Salvos are one of my favourite purchases ever, they make me happy every time I see them.

Considering I've been listening to a toy SWAT car playing bad boys on repeat interspersed with sirens for the last two hours, happy things are like gold around here.

Amanda (taliana42 at hotmail dot com)


Anonymous August 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Hi Lori, my bedroom is my sacred space. No toys are allowed, Lego Men and fogotten ponies are hurled into the hallway and the door slammed shut. It has some special ornaments on a whote wooden tallboy, Willow Tree, Disney and Lilliput Lane, all from my husband. Six pillows and a thick warm doona are on our bed. We have a beautiful courtyard, which means that we can draw our blinds back to let the sunshine or moonlight in. One entire wall of our bedroom is tinted mirrors, and the other is a sliding glass door. Feeling relaxed yet ? :p


S aka Zombie Mummy August 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm

What an excellent giveaway! Our bedroom decor and colour scheme hasn't changed in about 7-8 years even though I have matured and my style choices have. Our bedroom is teal and brown (great for hiding baby snot) but I would love to have crisp fresh white sheets and a white bedroom suite.

And a maid to vacuum it regularly as it is always the room I forget as it down the end of the house where its tiled and seems to attract dirt


Poetic Mumma’s ~ Family of Eight August 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

OH New Sheets! Heaven on Earth :)
I could most definetely pamper myself with QUEEN CHARCOAL 1000 thread count hotel sheet set by I LOVE LINEN.
I have recently spent time creating even spaces in my room, so that it seems that our little man has his own space in our room. And that we too have a space to call our own.

You can see pictures on my facebook page:!/photo.php?fbid=439105082795328&set;=a.235611996477972.58348.211023708936801&type;=1&theater;

Great competition Lori!


theinkdarkmoon August 27, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I love planning what my house is going to look like when I 'grow up' (I'm in my 30s…) I'm not sure how practical it is, but I love the idea of a 'hidden' bed, like a cave to hide from the world…


Mrs S August 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I'm in the process (going on 2.5 years!) of making a king size patchwork quilt cover for our bedroom space, so some quality king size sheets might just inspire me to get a wriggle on and finish the cover!


Donna Jones August 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I think the last time I got new bedding was about 10 years ago. Must be time to update to reflect my my new maturity… yeah right who am I kidding I never grew up.. just had kids


perthwife August 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

My bedroom would be white – bright white to reflect the morning sunlight that comes in. I would like to keep my wooden furniture as I love the colour and tone of the wood. But I'd have soft white linen sheets – about 400 thread count (any higher and I find the sheets too hot for summer) with a feather down doona. The doona cover would be white with some kind of lovely texture to it. And I'd have a grassy green throw blanket across the bottom of the bed to (try) keep my ever-cold feet warm.

My teeny tiny walk-in-wardrobe would be perfectly organised rather than jammed so full that all the beautifully ironed stuff gets wrinkled immediately.

Oh, and there'd be no black sock fluff, dog fur or cat sick on the white carpet. Ever.


Lib August 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I would love to freshen our bedroom up. When we built our house we did everything in neutral colours. I'd love to throw a splash of color on our walls. I also saw a lovely wall applique I'd love to stick to the wall above the bed. And my DH introduced me to the wonder that is 1000 thread count. I love linen….and must stop myself from buying more and more…if I had unlimited room I'd fill it up quick smart!


Maya, Mo and Me August 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I love high thread count and sateen sheets sets! devine


Kel August 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm

My bed must have high thread count sheets and a cozy Donna. There are lots of pillows that I can sink into to while I read. A cozy lamp, a place for my tea and I'm set.

I love nothing more than getting into bed at night. Sometimes I sneak in with my iPad and watch tv shows I missed. Its definitely one of my favourite places to be.


Anonymous August 25, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Love the idea of reclaiming your bedroom space hun..I know exactly how it feels to crave that for your own.
For me, I love unique and fabulous chairs! They need to be soft, dreamy and comfortable. I saw some velvet ones the other day on the site "Ruby Star Traders" (under category chairs and ottomans). They are so stunning. If I ever did my bedroom, I'd love to get one of those chairs.
As for sheets…the king charcoal 1000 thread count hotel sheet set from I love linen look amazing!..Funny how you can almost feel the softness through the picture :D aahhh :P


Bin August 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Hell Yeahyahhh bring on the sheets! Check my giveaway too, you might like this Lori!


Spagsy August 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Ok truth time.


Catherine August 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I'd love a tufted headboard, and a grey, white and navy colour scheme. A little vintage, a little new, a little quirky. The only thing I even like in there right now is a wardrobe mirror I took from my Dad's home after he died – nothing else meant anything. It's here if you want to have a look…

I completely agree about wanting a sanctuary. It's something I look forward to when I can finally get my 18 month old to sleep in his cot instead of on top of me (but that's another story!) If he was a snuggler that would be fine, but he's a wriggler! Beautiful linen would make a big difference thought I'm sure… couldn't go past the Queen White Block Colour!

Reply August 21, 2012 at 8:22 am

I've always said, 'when I'm a "proper grown up" I'll have good sheets instead of the linen travesties on my bed at the moment. But, sadly, it seem I Love Linen has no double bed sheets for my tiny, tiny bed. Nooooo! One day, one day…


Melissa August 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Beautiful! :)


Madeline August 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm

I need a new sheet set. The last set I bought just 3 years ago from a reputable department store starting with D and J ripped the other night!! I swear, I was doing nothing more than sleeping on them too.


Kaz Robinson August 20, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I dont want to win – I just won your Stuck on You competition – thank you so very much. Little Millicent will have everything with her name on it for daycare next year – thanks again!!

But as for thread count – totally agree. I though 400 was lovely years ago. But this year I bought 1200 from Target on special at 50% off so $100. Oh my how thick and silky these cotton sheets are and how I will never buy anything less that this again. I will be saving up for a second set and some single bed ones for the girls as they will last forever – even though they are Target sheets.

I will definately check out ILL rather than Target. thanks again Lori, my little 9 week Millie will be kitted out for labels next year. Thanks again


Jenny August 20, 2012 at 8:55 am

Squee! It makes me happy you have that felt portrait in your bedroom :)


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