It has long been my belief that your environment is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. After all, it is where you live and demonstrates how you live. This is your haven and refuge. A place set apart from the mundane and commonplace. It is from whence you leave to work and play and it is where you return for shelter and comfort, and yes, escape. Does your space reflect the love and respect that you have for yourself? One that says, “I deserve this. I deserve to live in beauty and harmony.” Or is it chaos and clutter. You don’t have to be rich to be clean.
Every apartment that I lived in no matter what the décor soon began to take on my personality. From Brady Bunch shag carpet to the outdated appliances, I changed what I could and found a way to incorporate what I couldn’t. Soon the personal touches of my Spiritual path could be found in every room and the voice of the Divine guided me and put me in alignment with the most awesome ‘finds’. Crystals, candles, pictures, and figurines of Crows, Owls and Hawks found their niches and the scent of incense had replaced the stench of stale cigarette smoke of previous renters. It became home, but like the homes of the nomads of this Earth, it was temporary, all of it was movable and would indeed move many times.
Building a house is an extraordinary experience. For the first time, we could choose everything from the faucets and lighting to the floor coverings. Fortunately, the builder had specific places under contract from which we were able to make these choices. That made things easier in that we didn’t have to run all over the city which was great because all of these stores showcased enough items to keep us more than busy selecting and then changing our minds. The chandelier in the foyer was probably the most memorable. After finally choosing what we wanted, I spotted one on the way to do the paperwork to put in the order. I stopped in my tracks and pointed…”That one”. This was after at least two hours of looking at every light in the place. “Are you sure?”, quarried the clerk and my husband. “Yes, that’s it”, I assured. It is the focal point of the foyer and I love it more every time I hit the switch and dim it to ‘just right’.
If there is a downside to building, it would be that everything is put in brand new at the same time and has a tendency to need replacing at the same time. This gets a bit ‘spendy’. So, you put off what you can and replace the things that drive you nuts. This was the case with the carpet.
It was a soft silver gray that I loved initially. Even though we never wear shoes indoors, with the Cat’s Technicolor ‘yawns’ and assorted spills, running my carpet cleaner on a regular basis was the only way to keep it acceptable. When we bought Cat food we would discuss getting flavors that ‘matched the carpet’. Fellow Cat people would give us a knowing nod. Salmon was definitely out unless you’re into pink residual spots no matter how much oxy you apply. Over the years it was stretched 3 times but soon a new ‘wrinkle’ would appear and no amount of furniture placement could hide the lumps. It had to go.
At first I thought tile in the foyer and wood in the great room, but soon decided that I no longer wanted that line of separation. I wanted it all to flow and provide a space that said ‘come on in’ instead of ‘wait here’. In addition to having the carpet in the great room, it was also in the hallway and master bedroom on the second level. We talked of doing wood in the kitchen as well which is lofted over the great room, but my first idea was to do that in tile. This is a future project since the stuff that’s in there is vinyl that looks like tile and is still in great shape. We decided on laminate because of the hardness factor and knowing that it would not have to be sanded and refinished in years to come plus we wanted a ‘floating’ floor.
When we spoke of getting the laminate installed, we were told how easy it would be to do it ourselves. Beyond replacing outdoor lighting and painting we are not exactly very knowledgeable, but are willing to learn. I was like a kid with a water canon when I got a nail gun to work on the lower level several years ago. Kathunk, kathunk, kathunk. I only hope we won’t need to pull all of those out in years to come. We have a table saw that we got to cut one board and a compound miter saw, neither of which has any bits of flesh clinging to the blades.
Some family and friends offered to ‘help’ with the floor project. This consisted of us waiting for instructions since they actually knew what they were doing. I did have the joy of ripping up the carpet. What fun!!! Did you know that sucker is tacked down with some nasty wooden strips and sharp pointy things? I guess I had assumed that gravity kept it there. The padding was stapled as well and when that was removed there was a layer of rough stuff that was none too comfortable on the knees.
We also discovered a sub floor under the vinyl in the foyer and the removal of that put us behind about 4 hours. Did you ever take a crowbar to your living space? Makes you euphoric and feel like vomiting at the same time like riding one of those roller coasters that inverts you in loops. That odd combination of joy and dread that would be less nerve wracking if done in someone else’s house. No wonder people like to ‘help’.
The new floor got put in with only a few snags like the odd wood trim around the fireplace. There is still a gap there that I am optimistic I can artfully disguise with the trim I got yesterday. Then, there was when our teenage feline, Hmandu, decided to tour the ductwork when the cold air return vent plate was off.
The upper level had to be completed two weeks later so I got to do all the prep myself, but it’s done now and I am not missing the carpet at all. The last vestiges of it remains on the stairs and they will get new carpet at a later date. It’s a bit flat, but lacks the bagginess so I can look at it without screaming.
Today is my target for getting my walk in closet put back together so I no longer have to recycle the same 5 outfits. It was a great opportunity to weed out and haul bags of purchases of clothing that became ‘what was I thinkings’ when they never saw the light of day. In the near future I get to play this game again when I have my new ‘closet system’ installed…this updating thing doesn’t snowball…it creates an avalanche. Oh well.
I also replaced the sofa in the great room and hauled the old one down to the pub and got rid of the junky one that was down there. If you’re gonna be a Bear, be a Grizzly as they say. So, it’s all a bit streamlined now and more open. The highest complement came from my daughter, the interior designer when she said, “your house looks much more awesome now”.
You really need to do this for yourself. Even just moving things around a bit can bring a sense of renewal that comes on the winds of change. Your place, your space, your way. Let it be quirky if that’s what you are. Touches of elegance have the ability to invoke the feeling of beauty and refinement after a long day in the ‘trenches’. Get a whistling kettle and let its song be the signal to get out a lovely china cup bought from a second hand store and allow it to reveal its history when you brew and sip.
You deserve to have a beautiful environment filled with a collection of beautiful things. No, we can’t take it with us and so many people downplay the importance of ‘things’, but what inspires and provides slices of joy is never overrated. Items of the past have us reliving the moments and provide us with a lineage that is tangible and can be touched as long as we outlive them. One of my favorite ‘things’ is a small collection of fossils. Not only do they carry their own history, they have now become a part of mine.