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Around the home

My Own Space

manuelita otero

Let’s take a tour around your home, walking slowly from room to room.  Let’s visit the places where you spend most of your time, maybe it's an area where you have fun with your children or the garden where you spend quiet time or the kitchen where you let your creativity flow.  After observing every room, did you see an area that you would consider yours?  A cozy hide-away where you work, think, or simply relax?  

As I was preparing to write about this topic, I took my own advice and slowly observed each area of our home. There is definitely a little of me in each room, but I also realized that there is not one special place for me. A place where I can work, recharge my batteries, and spend time on my own.  I usually work in our dining room so that area is a little cluttered, full of piles of books and projects that I will get to one day.  I quickly get bored so I need to have several things going on at the same time, so you can imagine my mess! The more I thought about what to write, the more determined I became of practicing what I preached; I decided to create my own space.  As soon as I made the decision I did what I always do when I come up with an idea, I ran to the library. (Yes, I'm old fashion, what can I say?) I got as many books on decorating and design as I could carry, but soon I realized that to make my special place the books with decorating ideas were not the main thing, what I was going to need was quiet time to define what I wanted to surround myself with.  I needed to answer these questions: What do I love? What makes me happy? And what helps my creativity flow? 

The visit to the library was worthwhile because I came across one book called A Room of Her Own by Chris Madden.  It is full of beautiful photos of women’s personal spaces.  The places were as different as the women who spent their time in them and that is what I loved!  The variety, the originality, and the personal imprint each area had.  

My special place has to be a reflection of who I am; a place where I can see my dreams in the making.  Others may see a mess, cutouts from magazines stuck to the wall, photos, books and papers in different piles, but I see projects coming closer to reality; a space far away from noise and distraction.  

As if I needed any more incentive, in the book Finding Flow by Mihay Csikszentmihaly, I read that most women feel their best moods in the bathroom where they are free from demands and in the kitchen, where they are in control…. What? Are you kidding me?  If I am in the bathroom taking a nice warm bath I can understand it, but not if I am hiding from everyone looking for a second of peace and quiet, and in the kitchen?  I like to prepare nice meals for my family, but I could find other places to spend my free time.  This was the last straw which made me pack up my “dining room” office and occupy what I decided was going to be my creativity haven. Here are some ideas to get started: 

  • Get your spot:  Look around and when you see the place where you can possibly make your hide out, claim it!    The place doesn’t have to be big or fancy; it could be a special sofa in a corner or a small room in the attic or a large walk in closet that you could turn into a mini office. It just has to be yours, and hopefully with little distractions. Think what do you dream of doing here? Do you want to create, to be inspired? Or to relax and enjoy the silence?   
  • Get to know you: Take time to get to know awesome you.  What do you dream of doing? What do you love? What would you like to do if you had the time and the money? I love tribal patterns, bright colors, candles, flowers and photos.  I love beautiful things; I like to cut magazines to get ideas; I am not sure for what, but I figure when those ideas are ready, they will come out, so I like to have them close by.  That is what I am planning to surround myself with. 
  • Get the right color palette:  Are you inspired by the sea and the sky or are you energized by bold colors or maybe you prefer to be surrounded by cool green tones that will help you unwind. Consider colors that make you feel amazing and use them to create your cave’s basic palette.
  • Get to work:  In my mind my place looks as great as all those beautiful photos in the book I saw, but in reality it is more like a quilt with a lot of things that don’t match or are out of place, and yes, just as messy as my office in the dining room. I made my challenge even more interesting, I will not buy new things for my place, not only to save money but also to reuse, rediscover, and reinvent. Start small.  It's better to add later than to overstuff your space or to overspend.  And don’t forget to take some photos before you start your quest, don’t you just love the before and after effect in magazines? 

As women we spend most of our days nurturing, feeding, cleaning, solving problems at work or at home, and doing a thousand more things; we don’t want our energy, wisdom, and peace to run out. So, we need a stress free zone to reload.  I just have to be patient and realize that to create a special place takes time, but as messy as my new office looks now it makes me happy to have a place of my own.

Manuelita @manuelitaotero