I've been hanging out with this book a lot lately (see the sidebar for info). I bought it right after we moved into the little gray house, which is actually a bigger-than-we-need gray house, because after over ten years of apartment and condo living, Neel and I were moving into our first honest-to-god house together. On our drive across the country to a land both foreign and familiar to us, I spent a lot of time thinking about framing our new life in this new space.
I still think about these things, oh, almost daily, and I love books like this. I tried for a long time with this book and books like Denise Linn's Sacred Space, or Karen Kingston's to work hard at really creating the kinds of spaces that they talk about. A lot of it doesn't quite feel like the right fit for me. Too much bell-ringing and energy-clearing. Oh, I tried it all, but boy did I feel self-conscious doing it. Still, books like this are so inspiring and... well, comforting. They tell me it's okay to spend time (way too much time, actually) thinking about stuff like, so, if I do get some brown curtains for the bedroom, what will that do to the gray and red quilt I want to make us? I still haven't decided about that one, but what I find works best for me is to simply be mindful of the space I'm living in. Really, being mindful is the way I want to try to live every aspect of my life, but it comes out more clearly in my home.
Jane Alexander talks about bringing Hestia, the goddess of the hearth back into our homes. Our lives, Alexander argues, are Hermes-driven, hectic and over-full. Over-full to the point that we have lost the essential order and sense of haven that our homes should give us. And I love this: Alexander points out that the word "focus" is a Latin word for hearth, and the hearth is Hestia's domain. You honor Hestia when you lay your table with attention and care, or when you light a fire to sit by on a cool autumn evening.
When I think about the rooms in my home, the idea of intention is what comes most to my mind. I like rooms with intention. Rooms that have a clear use and are clearly used. That's where Hestia seems to sing most for me. I offends my sense of order and focus when rooms are a hodge-podge of items and intents. "Let's put the CD case in here because there's room on that one wall, and it doesn't really go anywhere else," kinds of rooms. I'm never successful, but boy I'm trying. Our kitchen is our family room and home office, but really it's meant to be all of those things. Do I think a comfy sectional with a wall-mounted flat screen for tv watching and XBOX playing would give it more intention, well sure. But the sofa that's here now is serving it's purpose just fine. The tv too, I suppose. And what else is funny is that my same sense of order isn't offended in other homes. Just my own. In other people's houses, I tend to find myself thinking things like, "what a great idea to put the CD cabinet there. I wonder if ours would work in a different spot." Go figure.
All this thought about intention brings me right around to the Blue Rain Room. Of all our rooms, this room has had the least intention of any. For awhile, at least. When we moved in, the previous owners were finishing up a master bedroom/kitchen (don't get me started on that one...) addition, and what was once just a smallish bedroom became a walk-through room to the master. It's hard to know what to do with a walk-through bedroom with no lighting, only one outlet and a really small closet. If we'd had another baby, it would have made a great nursery, for awhile at least, but since we didn't, it just became a room we walked through to get to our bedroom. We plunked some bookshelves in there because that was a good place for them. We talked about ordering a closet system from IKEA and turing it into a closet space while using our current closet to expand our master bath. Somewhere along the way, as we were just walking through, I painted it this lovely shade of gray blue (Rain Washed, by Behr), and the color alone made me happier to be in there.
I started sewing only shortly before starting blogging, so have only recently needed a space. Knitting, which I've been doing for awhile, can be done anywhere... in the car, in front of the tv, on the front porch. Stuff your yarn and needles somewhere and you're good to go.
Sewing's different. With sewing, you need to be somewhere. Knitting you can pick up and take along. Knitting you can realize halfway through Top Chef that you have an unfinished sock or Josephine next to you and work your way through a few rows. Sewing you have to intend to do. It requires intention. Perhaps that's why I'm falling in love with it.
So I carved out a little space. Moved a table, squeezed in my machine, bought an ironing board. Tried to hang a shelf (it fell). Cleared a bookcase for some fabric. Bought some lights. Dragged in about a mile of extension cords. I did some research too. Spent a lot of time looking enviously at other crafter's studios. Some of my favorites can be found here and here or here or here. And did you know there's a whole craftroom pool over at Flickr? I could spend days digging around all those photos. Those spaces, and many others too numerous to name, all sing the same song to me. They are ordered and deliberate and intentional. They are as much about inspiration as they are about utilzation. Intention, as I well know, can be beautiful, and I want the Blue Rain Room to be filled with order and intention and inspiration too.
We've been working hard in here over the past few weeks. Really hung some shelves. Paid attention to what went on them. Oh the luxury of more than enough space. It's a dream really. I already felt lucky to have a room here that I could carve out just for me and my endeavours. Now, walking through here, I feel extra-blessed.
Many of the things that inspire me are here, from the baby blanket my great-grandmother made me to some pottery of Callum's to a photo of Neel as a young child...even the range of colors on the spools of thread hanging on the wall. There's still work to do, I need a better table to cut fabric on and definitely some better lighting. And one day I'll get my act together and get over to flickr to put some notes on these photos, but right now I can't wait to get to work!
Sometimes being mindful is about nothing more than putting my daily (or three) sparkling water in my grandmother's glass with a slice of lemon instead of just drinking it from the can. Sometimes it involves measuring and painting and many trips to the hardware store and pilot holes like a dotted line across the wall. Sometimes it's as much about how you got the room this way as it is about what you do in it once that space is ordered to your liking. All I know is that I smile when I walk through here now. That it's hard to walk through without stopping and grabbing a piece of fabric or digging out a matching bobbin. That I seem to settle into myself when I'm in there. And that my brain is about to explode with all the stuff I want to do, starting with every single project first and doing them all right now.