Thursday, February 23, 2012

Living in your Rooms

A seat by the fire, a table for your lap-top, a mantle for the cat, and notes hanging from a defunct light fixture. No matter how pretty a room is, it has to function for who you are right now, giving you what you need to enjoy where you live.

Many of us are tremendously lucky to have more room than we need, but often, we don't take advantage of that space. We have spare bedrooms filled with things that are waiting "to be put away", or a living room overflowing with remnants of a life that we lived 10 years ago. Wouldn't it be great if you could store things there that you really needed, or have a lovely living room that you couldn't wait to sit in?

I know it takes a lot of time to undo these things, but the pay-off is worth far more than we realize. Keeping things that we don't use, want or need, and having spaces that don't nurture our current way of living, is a waste of who we are, and what we have.

Next time you have a few moments, take a wander around your home, especially the places that you don't use very often. Take note of what you have, and make a list. Sit down and ask yourself why those things are there, and if you still need them. Write down what you wish you had instead, and what is really important to you. Then, figure out what you can do to change it. Here is a (fictitious) example to get you started.


China cabinet and buffet filled with wedding china and silver. Two sofas and a chair. A big box of toys. Ridiculously oversized, dried flower arrangement. A dining room chair. Collection of crystal elephants.
Why are they there?
I haven't redecorated this room in over 10 years. Brought in the dining room chair last Christmas, and forgot to put it back. My son used to play with his toys in here when he was little (he is now 15). It is my ex-husband's collection of crystal elephants (I got custody of them in the divorce). I bought the dried flower arrangement at a flea market in Woodstock, NY. It was handmade by a woman who looked like Janis Joplin (my favorite singer) and it was so big I had to tie it to the top of my car to get it home.
Do I still need them?
No. My son is grown, I don't like elephants, and I can't be bothered to dust the dried flower arrangement.
What I wish, and what is important to me:
I want the room to be less cluttered, and for it to have things in it that I like now. I would like a place that feels more friendly when people come over. I want to be able to sit and drink tea, read a magazine and daydream.
What can I do to change it:
Take out the dining room chair, the toy box, the dried flower arrangement and the elephant collection.
Display my crystal giraffe collection instead.
Bring in a table (or two) for my cup of tea and magazines.
Display my current china and serving dishes in the china cabinet. Store the wedding china and silver out of sight, in the buffet.
Buy some fresh flowers at the supermarket. They can be changed all the time, and don't get dusty.

Be inspired to change your home to suit your needs as you go along. The apartment in the photograph above is just 400 square feet of carefully placed things that are well loved and lived.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Juju What?

“Have you heard of Juju hats? I must have one for my house! You must blog about them!”, a friend wrote to me earlier this week. Of course, I googled them, not knowing what they were, but presuming they were some type of archaic medicinal type of voodoo device, that was worn on the head to scare away the bad guys.

Up popped these wonderfully whimsical, feathery concoctions hanging on beautiful, large walls. I knew why she loved them. After seeing the price (originally handmade in Cameroon), we instantly started wondering if we could make our own, what color we would use and where we would put them. Eternally optimistic, we added it to our wish list.

Later that night, I was flicking through a magazine, when I came across an entire line of accessories made from Shagreen. Again, I hadn’t heard of this. Apparently, years ago, the skins of sharks and stingrays were used to make cigarette holders and the like, giving an exotic appeal to something quite ordinary. Now, it is being reinvented in a kind of faux way (with the assurance that they are no longer being made from real shark or stingray). A strange, pebbly texture, it seems a bit like suede, and is now being used for all sorts of things, but mainly decorative items like picture frames and vases.

Not sure if the Juju and Shagreen will be a long-lasting trend, but the point is to continue suggesting something new; trends make us stop and think, pass them by, or fall in love with them. It's up to us.

Gorgeous, gerbera type Juju hat picture from the Brown Button blog (who, in 2010, was further ahead of the trend than I was).