It’s a funny thing, being an empty nester. The house is quiet, there’s no sporting events to go to constantly, less people visit, the fridge has way less food, and (the saddest part) there are way less happy distractions from what you are doing. However, I have to admit, I pictured my life less chaotic than it currently is. With a growing business, marrying off the youngest child, moving to a smaller house and trying to live through a renovation, I have needed to focus on life’s essentials. When living amongst boxes with all of our “stuff” packed away, I don’t have any of that excess around to entertain me, so it was important to set up our current living space with what’s important.
My husband travels for business quite often and is used to living out of a hotel and frankly, I can go anywhere for two weeks with a carry-on of a few items that become 114 outfits. But what happens when your home feels like a temporary space? This has really forced me to look at how we spend our time and what necessary things we need to have to make ourselves comfy. We all have times where we find our space “no longer working” for our current lifestyle. Some days, we may need to just stop and look at the basics in a different way. How can your space be tweaked to suit your NOW needs? It usually comes down to 3 main things; work, sleep and rejuvenate. With how crazy life gets, these should be the best 3 places in your home (along with a killer kitchen, which we will discuss in another post since ours is currently on hiatus, so we will save that for another day).
1. A Comfy Bed is King (or Queen) – I keep dreaming of this bed we slept in at Rachel Ashwell’s Prairie, where we had our daughter’s wedding. It had a cloud of a feather bed, along with the comfiest, most luscious down comforter on it, where one of my adult children promptly jumped onto it like a child upon entering the room, it was that inviting! There were piles of down filled pillows and crisp beautiful sheets and duvet cover and I couldn’t wait until the end of the day so I could slip inside. It’s not that our own bed is uncomfortable or anything, we sleep on a Sleep Number bed with Shabby Chic linens as well, but it’s always wonderful when we travel and find that comfy haven to slumber after a long and event filled day. Since my own life has made a temporary stop at Chaos-ville, I have appreciated this pleasure more and more, each day and night, and pondered how important this really is. As our children have set up their own homes over the years, and asked for my decorating advice, my one mantra has always been “spend your money where you sleep” after all, we do spend one third of our life there! But currently I would have to say I’m obsessed with the concept.
At Bungalow 47, we sell Bella Notte Linens and everyday when I come into work and walk through the store, I walk by this sumptious bed full of beautiful pillows and lacey pretties. If I ever need a minute of stress reduction while working, I literally step out of my office and into the store so I can look at all the lovely sample fabrics that can be ordered in this yummy line of bedding. And while the pricing is above what you would casually spend to purchase a new duvet cover, it is so worth the luxury that, I swear, I’d go on a ‘broccoli only’ diet if I had to to save up for it! Whether you are raising kids, sleeping alone, working nights or finding each day to be a little mundane, you deserve the pleasure of a comfortable bed and a haven to go to! Take the time to make sure that your sleeping space can be the best it can be. Clean off the nightstand and place something pretty so when you wake up, your first view is something wonderful. Stack up as many cushy pillows as you need or want, buying the best fill that you can afford, even if anyone else complains about the pillow abundance! I have really come to appreciate that the basic essentials of life is where I will put my focus (and budget) as needed and there is never any excuse for these places not to be pretty.
Every good bedside can benefit from good mood lighting or an awesome reading lamp, so gather a few different lamps and try things out at night. It’s nice to have an overhead light in a bedroom, but a variety of lamp light will be helpful as well. If you like to have water bedside, for when you are feeling parched at night, set up a little tray with a glass decanter to make it a bit prettier. Lip balm or hand lotion can be kept handy in a pretty bowl. I mean, seriously, how many little things do you have tucked away that you are waiting to find a use for? This is it. Tissue can even be put into a decorative jar instead of a tissue holder. Look at things different and add your personality to this essential area.
2. All Work and Some Play – When we moved, the most important call I felt I had made was to the cable company to get our internet set up. This is our connection to work and life, as we all seem to be connecting through social media and the web these days, we had to have our internet in place. One of the big changes we made to this house we bought was making the old dining room (quite large for this house) into a study where we live and work each day. The kitchen was small with an eat in space and had single door openings to the dining room and the main hallway. Realizing that the kitchen is always the center of the home, even with all the kids gone, we wanted to have the entire space be just the whole kitchen. Since we had the dining room, a living room and another room off that space that led into a sunroom, we just needed to rethink the space and how we would use it. Reworking it to fit our needs, we stole a few feet from the dining room to add to the kitchen, closed the space in and added french doors and called it our new den. I love that word den, for so many reasons. First, it conjures up in my mind a cozy space where animals cuddle and live, like a fox den. Second, my father created a room in the house I grew up in that he called ‘the den’ that was floor to ceiling built-in book shelves on one side, and which always had a cozy place to sit. I spent hours there, reading at his feet, or playing barbies on the floor and creating their dream house using books for walls. Lastly, that word is part of my husband’s name, so I just love it.
Our den is the place we spend a fair amount of time. My husband works here when he is not traveling. I spend hours at the computer here each day for work as well, and it is our ‘command central’ for this new home we are creating. When I need some escape time, I can flip on the TV or sit comfortably on the small sofa and chat with the kids on the phone. I love that we are using every inch of this house and I believe it is very important to create that space where you can work calmly and unwind when the time comes. I always have a stack of decorating magazines to peruse when needed and the computer is close incase I need some Pinterest inspiration. You can follow us at Bungalow 47 here, or me personally here.
What room can you tweak or reinvent to be more focused of how you spend your time? Have you always wanted a sewing room or a place for another hobby? Now is the time to steal that space and make it happen. A library space can even be made in a hallway. We had a very large square hallway in a house we had in California when the kids were teens. It was an awkward space, with a cubby of cabinets for a linen closet. I stared at it long enough and finally figured out that it would make the perfect homework area! I removed the lower cabinets and made the area a desk. The hallway was big enough to have a few floating club chairs facing each other with a coffee table between them. The kids spent most days up there with their friends, doing homework, working on projects and using a space that had once been wasted. Look at your rooms differently and change it to your NOW essential!
3. A Clean Throne is Important – As the dust flies, and each room seems to become worse until it finally becomes better, the one thing remains is that it’s mandatory to have a clean bathroom. I can take having my stuff in boxes, and I don’t mind not being able to actually sit at the table and have a meal I cooked myself (I mean, what are restaurants for anyway?) but I quite simply have to have a clean bathroom. I need fluffy clean towels (I always prefer white), t.p. nearby (I mean, really, it’s the little things) and a clean shower/tub with good water pressure. Basically my essentials lists are the things found in a decent hotel, where all you really need to do is work, unwind, sleep and get cleaned up. We are so spoiled and blessed as Americans, with most of us living with running water, private commodes and enough luxuries to make our hair soft and face presentable to the world. And I always believe, even if you have meager means, you can always have a clean space.
That basic room, the bathroom, can also be made decorative not just functional. Make-up can be stored in pretty jars on the counter top, towels rolled into a cute basket, even jewelry displayed so you can see it and remember to wear it! Look at your space and see how you can add those little luxuries to your essential room. I like to have extra toilet paper rolls in a big basket nearby, so I am never caught without one (must be something traumatic from my childhood). And any bathroom can always be enhanced by good reading material! Any way you look at it, we all spend enough time in the bathroom to make it a place that deserves good decor!
One day this house will be clean, everything will be put away (even labeled or color coded if I get crazy on it), or maybe we will lose power for 6 days like we did last winter over Christmas from an ice storm and have to go to ‘survival’ mode, but our essentials will be the same. All we really need is a soft bed, place to read or work, and a clean bathroom to visit. Regardless of where we live, or what kind of budget we are on, we can work to have those essentials inhabit little luxuries as well. What can you do to make those spaces more of what you need, prettier, cleaner or more organized? Share your thoughts and ideas with us here in a comment.
Be happy, Jill