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THIS OLD HOUSE
How much I love my space, love making it mine, love surrounding myself with ephemera and the pleasing shapes of furniture and items that speak to me in some way. Ever since I had my first own room, I've loved making my space mine. Choosing the colors around me, which paintings to hang where, which items to set out for admiration. Arranging books on shelves, picking out pillows for sofas, rearranging things until they are just so.

My first own room was in Belgium, in the house we rented for 3 years in the little village of Overpelt. Isn't that a great name for a village? Almost as good as Flyinge. What I loved about that first OWN room: light blue walls, a tiny sink nook with mirror, under-eaves attic closet.

What I loved about my second own room in Landstuhl, Germany was that our apartment was on the 12th floor of a high-rise building. It was like living in the clouds. There was no closet in my room (or in any of our rooms); there were amoires out in the hallway instead. Which meant lots more room for my own furniture and stuff and more opportunities for rearranging!

Then I went to college at Michigan State and shared a room, with 3 other girls. Then another one with 3 other girls. Then I had a room in a house with 5 other girls: the smallest room, with a loft bed. It was like living in a closet, but it was cozy. My rooms and apartments for awhile after college were nothing special (except for the one with the fireplace: I still miss that), until I got my OWN apartment. It was like having my own room TIMES FOUR! Living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom: all mine to do with what I pleased.

I loved my first OWN apartment. I loved the dark dove grey carpeting and the built-in glass-front cabinets in the kitchen and the huge walk-in closets and the high ceilings and the wall of paned windows. I loved the view over the rooftops to the trees by the lakeshore. I've written about it before, I loved that place so much.

It's harder to make your space your own when you share it with a family, though. I have still managed to do it to a great extent, and to feel like I am surrounded by things, as well as people, that mean something to me. I liked our old house in Flyinge, but I LOVE this one.

What do I love about it? I love:
  • the way the tiles in the foyer are cut diagonally because I asked Anders to do them that way and he did, even though it's harder to cut & fit tiles diagonally, for a birthday present for me
  • the way the windows in the big room go all the way to the ground
  • the way the kids's department is separate from the rest of the house: containment!
  • the fact that my husband did all the work in the house from the spackling to the wallpapering, from the tiling to the flooring
  • the choices that we made in tiles and wallpapers
  • the big bay window in the kitchen
  • the moose bathroom
  • the porch and the deck
  • the rounded paving stones at the end of the corridor between the house and the garage
  • the stylish hipped roof, unusual in Sweden, that we really fought for
  • the wallpaper border in the computer room; one we had in our old house which I liked it so much I had to have it again
  • all the closets
It might seem silly to go on about the structural design and minutiae of this house, but finding the right house plan, having it built, choosing the interiors makes it so much ours, so much mine, that every now and then I just want to put it out there for posterity; I love this home of ours. We've lived here in this house for over 7 years now, and I still notice these things: they still thrill me as much as they did when the house was new and we had just moved in. Walking through the foyer and noticing the tiles again fills me up frequently with love.

Do you love your space, your place in the world? What about it causes you delight?
 sleepy
mood: sleepy
music: Chelsea's thumping tail


Comments

Mmmmm..makes me think of my house. I'm not the nester, but JF's sense of color and design is really unerring. I love our old house.

How nice to be among fellow house-lovers!

(Anonymous)
Joy here

My apartment in WI, before the one I am in now was my favorite of all apartments. It had a small balcony and the whole apartment was just cozy. The apartment here in TN was not my choice of apartments but had to be because I had a hard time finding an apartment right before school started. At first, I hated it. It is in a bigger building than I like (40 apts instead of the one in WI, which was only 8). But it has a built in bookcase, from floor to ceiling, a bigger bathroom and I have found my neighbors are nice people. So, for all my disappointment, I like this better than I thought.

Joy

Re: Joy here

It sure is nice to find out you like something better than you expected :)

It's not silly at all to be desperately in love with one's house. I am! (and it KILLS me that we have no hope of ever owning it) In fact, I am so delighted over our house--both the structure and the minutiae, as you said--that I purposely haven't posted photos even though I said I would. I'm afraid simple photos would seem too much like gloating. :) I'd love to see some snapshots of your place though and what makes it YOU.

Why no hope of ever owning it? There are (rather old, but still fairly valid) photos of our house on www.lizardek.com if you want to see what it looks like. Though I need to put up new ones of the kids' rooms :)

Oops, I don't know if you're still checking comments this far down... But to answer your question, we're living in one of those lovely, custom-built family houses (notably, not OUR family's) with the grandparents on one floor and the children's families on the other. The son who lived on the top floor had a major dispute with his mother and moved his family out, so now we're renting the floor. As welcome as we are here, the house is a family heirloom that they would never dream of selling. Poo.

I hope you don't get kicked out if he and mom make it up!

Three things assure me that that won't be happening:
1) We have a four-year rent contract that our landlord is not legally allowed to break for ANY reason,
2) The son's family bought their own house in a neighboring city and have pretty well established themselves there now,
and
3) The mother passed away.
Many facets of Italian lives resemble soap operas, but hopefully our stay here won't!

I love your house too - it has the feeling of a house created by YOU and your family. And every time I come home from your house I SO want to make my own house more me, more clean, more organized.

The problem here is that we moved into a fully furnished cabin (old stuff that is a mix of precious things Björn inherited from his grandmother and things that were already here 40 years ago when the family bought it). We then added our own furniture to the cabin without removing much (because we had too little time to move properly and thought we would just get everything in and then sort it out later - HA). And then we added precious things from Kjell's house after he died. So we live in a tiny cabin that has at least three times as much stuff in it as it should, and I do not really know which things I can toss and which are precious to Björn. He is a saver of things, not a tosser of things which makes my attempts at turning this place into what I imagine it could be more of an uphill battle than I'm willing to take on.

Gee. That turned into a rant. :-)

I don't know how you stand it. I would have fits about not being able to get rid of things and do the things I wanted to make the house more mine!

I do have my own space down in the "little cabin". You inspired me with this entry - after my rant I decided to stay there in my office a little longer than my workday and reorganize. I cleared out four shelves and a big huge bag of stuff that was just waiting to be put away. I might not easily be able to do everything I want to do in the big house, but I can certainly be boss of my space in the little one. Thanks, Liz!

Awesome! There's nothing like that feeling! :)

Keeping Sane with Keepsakes

One solution you can propose is to photograph things that fit into that big category of "'Do we really need to keep this?' but guilt or concern over a lost memory prevents you from tossing it." I have put the photos in albums or used the images in other artworks, and now with digital frames, the pieces can be on constant rotation display. With the furniture, try a series of photos that can line a hallway, themed on the same relative, all done in some matching frames photographed in a similar style. Or you know that famous poster of all the classic Danish chairs? In other words, there are ways to hang on without hanging on. It's not the perfect solution for all keepsakes, and if your partner is a saver, it might be impossible to pull off, but think baby steps. Then you can take the original pieces and deliver them to one of the many second hand shops that draw in hundreds of people a weekend, looking for something old and special. Tempt him by putting the money in an account for something (one thing!) he really wants. (Wow, I've been watching way too much HGTV!)

Re: Keeping Sane with Keepsakes

Maybe YOU should be the guest speaker on Cutting Clutter that I've booked for our May AWC meeting! :)

From Megsie

I, too love my house. But, moving into this house four years ago made me love things about my old house that I took for granted. I loved my first apartment, because it was my first apartment. I loved that I had my own room, and my room-mate and I decorated it just so. I really loved my second apartment. I moved in there with my husband. I loved my closet in that house. I still WANT that closet. Then, we moved into the house that I grew up in. It was my house, so I didn't notice things like the huge closet across from the bathroom--for junk like paper towels and toilet paper and just stuff...light bulbs...sewing kit. Or the pantry. Or the walk-in closets in the basement and in the front hall. I miss the shudders on the windows too. And the pool. Especially the pool. I also miss the things we did to the house to make it ours. The basement bathroom with the glass block shower and the tile my husband laid himself. The gas fire place that finally solved the problem of a FREEZING basement. The built in bookshelves and cabinets. Things I love about our house now? That it is a two story house opposed to a rambler. That everyone has their own room. The carpet and the painted walls that I did myself with help from my parents and sister. That I have my *own* bathroom. The kitchen (for the most part). There are things that I DON"T like about our house now as well. But the good definitely out weighs the bad.

Re: From Megsie

There have been things that I have loved about nearly every place I've lived (and I've lived in a LOT of places. Not some of the college dumps, though! And not the dorms, though I did have GOOD times there. I just wasn't a big fan of 4 people in a really small room.

Re: From Megsie

I forgot to say in that long drawn-out comment how much I loved this post. I loved it for so many reasons. xoxo

I love my house/space. I think about it and I appreciate it every day. It is not a large house at all (only about 1600 sq ft.) but I love the flow and the feel and all the little spaces and colours and lights at different times of day. Sometimes I think about having a larger house, or a house in the country - but I'm very content with what I have.

Isn't that a nice feeling! Sometimes just the way the light falls across the floor in the big room makes me happy. (although not when I can see how badly the million windows need washing!)

(Anonymous)

I so connect with this feeling of loving your place. Though now I am finding the need to let that go, wanting something smaller and easier to care for - but realizing that this place IS special. A friend arrived at my door recently after hearing that I was starting (it will take awhile) to get the house ready to sell- with the words "You can't sell this house - it's so peaceful and beautiful, and...." But, after all the moves we've made, I do realize that the next place I find myself will also be beautiful and special because I will be putting myself in it! Just as you and Anders have done in Flyinge.
Love, Lizardmom

I totally understand that mixed feeling. Your house IS peaceful and beautiful and special in so many ways, but it IS also too big (and I think, too isolated) and hard to care for. But that's a good lesson that you've taught us as well: I think we're all able to put ourselves into our spaces and make them ours. :)

(Anonymous)

I love our apartment even though it is small (and I do dream of two bathrooms sometime!). We've managed to turn every bit of it into something that feels like us, either through color or furniture or books. I also love its old bones, and 19th c proportions. The tall ceilings and wood paneled doors make me happy every time I see them.

I'm going to have to search through your old pictures and find out what a hipped roof is now! Great post.

Happy Weekend!
julia@kolo

I can't imagine having less than 2 bathrooms with 4 people in the house! Even with only TWO people, it's a good thing :) 19th century proportions are a thing of beauty :) You can google hipped roof and find images!

(Anonymous)

Just today I was thinking about all the places I've lived, from my rooms in my parents house (the same one for 19 years), to college, to various apartments, to this current (temporary) space in Barcelona. I'm longing for the feeling of making a space my own, painting walls, planting flower pots, getting high quality prints of some of my favorite photos my husband and I have taken and framing them... I haven't really made a HOME yet, always rented, always thought of it as a year or two (the longest I've lived anywhere since leaving home is 3 years). When we get back to California next summer we will hopefully find a house that will become a first home for us. I can't wait.

Willow

Even some of the places I've rented over the years have been a home and been MINE (like the one in Chicago). I don't necessarily think that you have to OWN the space for it to be yours. I hope you find the perfect place to lay your hearts :)

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