A Beautiful Mess

“At the worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”

Dame Rose Macaulay ((1881-1958)

An Oil-Pastel Drawing I made last year.
A space that allows us to grow and express ourselves is truly a thing of beauty, and that is one of the ideas behind this oil pastel drawing.

My grandma used to smile sometimes with a shrug of her shoulders and refer to the famous piece of French wisdom, “It’s a beautiful mess”.  Her home was always wonderfully kept; a welcoming place full of flowers and fresh baking.  But this attitude helped her enjoy her grandchildren and embrace life’s imperfections.

Because life comes first, and there is a real wisdom in arranging our priorities and our spaces with that in mind.

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A home doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect.  It doesn’t have to sport the most stylish and expensive decor.  It doesn’t have to be spotless.

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Displaying special items collected through our experiences can be an inexpensive and uplifting way to decorate.

The real joy comes from creating a space where we can live fully.  A place that expresses who we are, and that enables us to do the things that really matter to us.

After all, there is a profound beauty in living life well.

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Where Do You Like To Do Your Creative Work?

My son and I both have this week off, and it has been a wonderful holiday so far! We have relaxed, and taken some great walks in the beautiful weather. My son spent Saturday with grandma, so my husband and I even had time for a lovely date. And even though time is going fast and it’s already Wednesday, we have made plenty of time for creative work up to this point.

Question, by Graur Codrin, from Freedidigtalfotos.net.

My son has been practicing his drawing skills and working on a small comic strip.  So, busy with all this creative work, we started to think about how different people have different ways of working.

Where do you like to do your creative work? (Writing, drawing… whatever you prefer to do.) Is there a place where you feel your creative juices flow most naturally?

How Some Famous Authors Found Their Flow.

It is fascinating how creative types work best under different conditions, and using different rituals. Here are a few famous examples of how some authors have found their flow:

vintage-typewriter-Witthaya Phonsawatfdp2

Laying Down: Maya Angelou (I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings) would rent a hotel room for several months at a time. She would ask the staff to remove all visual stimuli from the walls. Then, she would spend about 5 or 6 hours each morning in the hotel room, writing on the bed while leaning on her elbow.

Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) has called himself a “horizontal author”, finding his muse while laying on a couch or a bed.

Standing up:  Apparently, Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man And The Sea standing up! He would wake up at dawn and pour out his thoughts, standing over his typewriter until noon. Then, he would head to the bar!

Out and about: J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) loves to wonder into a cafe with her notebook and write blissfully, seeing where it will take her.

Creative people tend to have their unique preferences!  Some people love to lay down, others sit at a table, or a desk.  Some people like their space cluttered, others like it clear and sparse.  Some like to work in a dark space, others like a bright work area.  Some like a quiet space, others like a lot of action and activity around them.

How About The Humble Hobby Artists Around This House?

A drawing of a small bedroom.

How do we like to work around here?  Well, my son loves to draw (and sometimes write) in the late evening, right before bedtime. He lies down comfortably on the rug on his bedroom floor, and turns on his work lamp. Aside from that light source, he likes the room dark as he gets his ideas down on paper.

Me? When writing, I like to sit comfortably on the couch or, my favourite place to write, on my bed.  I like the room bright with warm light.  Normally, I do my visual art in the studio, but sometimes I even like to sketch while in  bed. In fact, that is where I did the quick sketch featured above. (It is not based on any of the rooms in our house, but rather on the idea of small spaces, which kind of fascinate me). Anyhow, this is all very amusing to my spouse, an early bird who jumps out of bed as soon as he opens his eyes!

Where do you like to work? We’d love to hear about it.

 

Image Credits:

The first image is by saphatthachat, the second image is by Graur Codrin, and the third image is by Witthaya Phonsawat.  All of three images are courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

 

Ways to Declutter, Organize, and Celebrate Your Home! Part 2

How I Transformed My Home Without Spending (almost any) Money

Some years ago, I decided to declutter my basement by getting rid of the baby items that my son had outgrown.  This should only take a few hours, I had thought.  Ha!  Was I wrong!  The project gained momentum.

You see, as I got rid of “junk”, I began to rediscover forgotten items – imperfect treasures with patina,  character, and personal stories.   Suddenly,  I wanted to display these things that I had once abandoned in basement storage.

A New MindSet

Up until that point, I hadn’t focused on the full potential a home “set-up” has to nourish our experiences and personalities.  I started to see that my set-up didn’t make certain activities that I valued  – like  drawing  or painting-  very convenient.  Also,  I wanted my space to be more authentic; to be an expression of who I was.  In my diary, I wrote:

“Rethink the living room. Transform it into a room where the living includes creativity.”

“Add new things, get rid of some things, make it organic, open, welcoming and comfortable.”

And so it began: I put pictures up in old frames and displayed them in groupings. I put cool keepsakes on my shelves, and brought up old lamps that I had relegated to our basement storage.

I got rid of things that I didn’t really enjoy, or that didn’t serve a purpose, and I completely shifted my furniture around.

I painted my porch and furnished it with a couch, coffee table, and shelf that were no longer needed inside the house.

Most importantly, I created a small work station, right in my living room, where I could paint, draw and write, while spending time with my family. It was basically a desk with good lighting, tucked into a corner.  We mounted a funky cork bulletin board on the wall beside it, where I pinned pictures, drawings and quotes. It became what I affectionately referred to as the “evolving (because I was open to continually adjusting the space to better suit our needs) creative centre of our home”. It inspired my son to join me in creative activities, and added life to our space.

It took some hard work, but when I was done the whole process, I couldn’t believe how our home had changed. It was so satisfying, and it enhanced our quality of life as well.

7 Tips That Helped Me Set Up My Home.

These are the ideas that helped us set up a space we really enjoy. Maybe some of them can be useful to you:

1) When organizing a space, first ask yourself:  What do I love to do? How do I want to spend my time, on a regular basis, in this space?  What activities do I want to do easily in this space? Make a list. Let your interests (and those of your family) guide your decisions, and then make room for those activities: make them a priority. That can be challenging, especially in a smaller space, I know. It might mean that you have to make some unconventional choices, and get a bit creative with your use of space. Why not try it, though? It is your life! You can make your space what you need it to be!

2) As a general guideline, surround yourself with things that you enjoy, that hold positive associations or special meaning .  This helps you feel good in the space. (See the next point.)

3) When decluttering, look at each item, and ask yourself the following two questions:

Does it serve a purpose?

Does it have special meaning? (For example: maybe it’s a collectable, it’s beautiful, it’s a keepsake from a trip, or a special gift…)

If it doesn’t serve a purpose, and it doesn’t have any special meaning, is there another reason to keep it? Would someone else benefit more from having it? Use your judgment. It’s your choice to make.

This tip gets easier and easier with practice, so do it regularly!

Keep a  box handy, and put “maybe” items in there for a while, and see if you miss them. When you are ready, drive down to a thrift store and drop them off.

4) Don’t get overwhelmed. I got a bit carried away when I rearranged my house, but it was a lot of hard work – both physical, and mental (I was making so many decisions about what to keep, and what to throw, where things should go, how to arrange things…).  Usually,  it is a good idea to reorganize one area at a time.  For example, change your bedroom around this season.  If you enjoyed the way that worked out, focus  on the dining room next summer.  It doesn’t all have to be done at once.

5)  Same thing goes for decluttering!  It’s a good idea to do a small section at a time: a drawer one weekend, a closet next month.  Be patient, and recognize when you are feeling tired.  Get rest, and start fresh again later.

6) Be aware of what you bring into the house. For me, it’s not just about getting rid of things. I try to avoid buying things that will soon become unwanted clutter.  The added bonus: this tip can save you a lot of money.  Give yourself time before purchasing items: if in doubt, just go home and think about it.  I’ve been doing this most of my adult life, and it has probably saved me a fortune.

7)  Above all, have fun with itexperiment with different ideas, and arrange things in a way that works for you and your family.  Only you can decide what is the “right”  set-up for your home!

Editor’s Note:  We have since moved to a new home, and I have used those 7 ideas to help me set up and keep a space where we love to live!

Photograph by Tungphoto, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com, and I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

 

 

Ways to Declutter, Organize, and Celebrate Your Home! Part 1

“At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”

–Dame Rose Macaulay

A Great Read!

Today’s quote is from one of my favourite books on the subject of home: “A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life”, by Mary Randolph Carter.  It’s a great book filled with wonderful photographs and interesting ideas on “how to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc… and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place”.

Reconsidering Clutter: An Opportunity to Share and Express!

It’s true that an uncluttered space has a certain appeal – it can be calming and efficient. But it’s also important to recognize that purposeful “clutter” can express our personality and our history,  and can create warmth and visual appeal.

When I first found  Carter’s book, it was a great source of inspiration for me. It was a period in my life when, more than ever before, I started to focus on how to set up my home in a way that celebrated our life and nourished our interests.

I liked Carter’s take on clutter:

“Embrace it, make peace with it, take control of it, share it, reorganize it, and when the time seems right, bid it farewell.”

“Clutter is the grand parade that follows us all our days from a playpen of toys… to the places we call home.”

“Find solace and a little beauty in the clutter of the things we cherish in our everyday lives at home and at work.”

A Home Is For Living!

Part of the reason that I connected with this book, I think, is  that I was raised in an unpretentious home where living life was the priority.   What was surprising, though, is that this book about embracing clutter inspired me to  start a process of decluttering. 

It was a big job. I began to go through all of our stuff, starting with our basement, which we basically used for storage.  I got rid of countless things: I donated tonnes of stuff, and threw out or recycled what was not fit for giving.

In the process, I rediscovered mementos that were real treasures; imperfect, and full of personal history and interesting stories.  These items didn’t belong in storage. It was time for them to add some character to my home!

It was during this period of time that my personal philosophy of home “organization” really started to evolve.

ClutterFree With a Twist!

In some ways, my philosophy is somewhat minimalist. I enjoy living in a space that is not overly or needlessly cluttered.   At the same time, I find it joyful to be surrounded by the things that I love – books, pictures, and keepsakes.  My home is lived in, not perfect;  but it’s bright, clean, and welcoming

So my home has become a  combination of an uncluttered calm space, mixed with meaningful, useful and comforting objects that enhance my life.  It is all about about enjoying the things that you love, in a functional space that enables you to do the things that you love!

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Part 2:

How I Transformed My Home Without Spending (almost any) Money!

 

The above image is by Adam, courtesy of freerangestock.com

 

 

Ideas on Creating a Welcoming Home

“… It was amazing what a little noise and brightness could do to a house and a life, how much the smallest bit of each could change everything…”

-Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

What Makes a Home Welcoming?

When I was young, probably 12 years old, my aunt, who was working on her master’s degree, took me to a party.   It was hosted by a friend of hers from university and the house seemed to me  full with interesting adults. It was a lively, enchanting affair held in an older home, with arched doorways that connected the rooms. The thing is, decades later, sometimes I still think back to that home and revel in how it made me feel. It had character, but was simple; maybe pretty.  On the surface, there was nothing exceptional about that small house, but the ambiance was warm, welcoming and comfortable. I can’t remember the deco in much detail-  just that it was not pretentious, and that it gave me this feeling of embracing life; a home that was honest and comfortable with itself. These people enjoyed their friends and opened their home in a way that was genuine and, it turns out, unforgettable.

The Secret: Focus On What You Do Have.

Experiences like this have convinced me: It doesn’t matter what kind of house you have. Don’t worry about the imperfections or the size of your house, or the age of the furniture. Your home may be lived in rather than spotless, and the furniture may not be right out of a glossy magazine. Who cares? As we head into the holidays, forget about useless expectations that rob you of the moment. Instead, focus on what you do have and make the most of it.  

So, in that spirit,  here are a few…

Easy Tips to Create a Welcoming Ambiance :

~ Think about lighting. Candles (supervised, of course), and/or Christmas lights create a wonderful feeling.  Lamps can be used to brighten the room softly.  When entertaining, I often use a combination of light sources to create a cozy, but well illuminated space.

~ Music transforms the atmosphere. Download a fabulous free app like Songza, which has themed playlists. You can switch up the playlists to accompany the different activities, enhancing the mood you wish to create. Personally, I love lively, but relaxing music when enjoying pre-dinner drinks, followed by jazzy, soothing music while dining.

~ Informal elegance is the new classic! Think comfortable, gracious hospitality with a down-to-earth touch.

~ Remember that older items often acquire a certain patina, growing more beautiful with age and use.  So display items that tell a story or have positive associations for you! They are personal, charming and interesting to talk about!

~ Plants!  They purify the air and bring colour and life to a room.   I have some geraniums that need a lot of sunlight, so in the winter months I keep them in the family room, which gets sun throughout the short days.  When guests are coming, I take them to the living room, where their bright red blooms create a cheerful welcome and enhance the colours in that space.  Even if you aren’t much of a green thumb, there are plenty of beautiful plants that don’t need much care.  For example, I have several Spider Plants that do well no matter where I put them, and I only need to  fill the self-watering pots every 10 days or so.

Create a Home with Heart

This December, take time to focus on the things in your life for which you are grateful.  A house filled with a generosity of spirit, warmed by smiles, and illuminated  with genuine welcomes is a home with heart. Let’s face it: that is the most beautiful kind of house there is.

Image by Just2shutter, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net. 

 

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Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com and I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

In the next few days, I will be writing a post on the easiest way to declutter, while keeping the clutter that counts! Believe me, I have experience decluttering! But I believe that it is wonderful to keep, display, and enjoy “clutter” that has a special meaning, purpose, or visual appeal. Anyhow, this is a great tip for creating a welcoming home, but requires a full article to explain properly. So if you are interested, stay tuned for that.