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A room of one's own

I'm creating a Zen space for myself.

So, it's 2015. 

I wonder what the year will hold in store? Good things, one hopes, but much of it is out of one's own control.

Last year was a good year for us workwise: this year starts with unemployment. But on the bright side, perhaps less exhaustion from overwork to go with it. I will have to take back the gardening in-house this year as we can no longer afford to employ someone, the dogs are back on dechets, which will save us 80 euros a month, and I aim to put myself under a new-clothing embargo in the interests of economy.

Ideally I would spend nothing all year on clothing, but I think that's a tad unrealistic - but I'm hoping to manage the first three months without spending any money on clothes. Because the truth is that I have no clothing needs, only wants. 

Because I do not believe in resolutions, only in intentions, I will not commit to something like Project 333 (I'll blog more about this later), but I hope to stick to something similar myself, along with my other intentions for 2015: to lose weight, to gain fitness, to do more yoga, and to practice more zazen. 

In the interests of not spending money on clothes, I've spent the past couple of weeks diligently unsubscribing from five email feeds each day. It's remarkable now little crap is now coming into my inbox. Some of these firms, such as Finisterre and Lands' End, I did sign up for, but there were many that I did not - I've never bought a damn thing from Next, for instance, and yet there were their email offers, endlessly cluttering up my inbox. 

In the interests of doing more yoga and zazen, I've also stopped looking at the news, listed some Zen and simplicity blog favourites to read over breakfast, and clawed back a dedicated space for myself in the house. Our 'second' bedroom, which has in turns been a guest room, a sewing room and a winter bedroom, is now going to be 'my' room. Weeks of decluttering and discarding furniture (25 sacks of clothes and fabric so far, plus a double bed and a marble washstand) have resulted in a space large enough to accommodate a nice daybed for lounging and reading, plus a huge area to put down a yoga mat. Most of the rest of the room is empty and I am using the money gained by selling furniture to have another closet built in.  

Earlier in the year, we had closets built into one half of the room, which we exchanged for our vintage Karmann Ghia, which was rusting away in the garage. I think I got the better part of the deal, with floor-to-ceiling storage 60cm deep now running along the whole of one wall. Following Marie Kondo's advice, I also put a bookcase in the back of the hanging section, which freed up space on our landing as well as providing me with storage for sweaters, shoes, etc.   

The room is now starting to feel very Zen, and will be even more so by the summer, I hope. Here will be my singing bowl, my rune stones, my scented candles, my miniature Zen garden and my SAD lightboxes. Everything white and calm. And no-one allowed in except by appointment... 


The revamp progresses

Our winter bedroom is coming along bit by bit

New bed thumbnail

Our new winter bedroom is progressing, if not apace, then at least by degrees. 

For the past couple of weeks, most evenings, I've gone up and done an hour or two of tidying and sorting. Even unfolding and refolding my fabric stash has resulted in a massive amount of saved space and I haven't even really started with the chucking out of out-of-date or used clothing, etc - there are still many bags labelled 'to sort'. 

Our plans for the bedroom had to be revised when we got the quote for building in the wardrobes - at about 1,000 euros we just haven't got the cash, so instead we decided to hire the carpenter to close off the top floor with a glass stair panel and panelled perspex door, to stop heat from escaping onto the top storey. We will live with the motley assortment of wardrobes for now. 

I also changed my mind about the bed, deciding that the Ikea Fjell didn't provide enough storage underneath (and would look a mess anyway, since the floor slopes by 10cm and the bed will still have to be chocked at one side) and that we should revert to the idea of a standard bed with good clearance so we can stow vacuum packs under it.

New bed

Instead, I've opted for this bed from Ebay. With its low foot end (which you're looking directly across as you enter the room) and its light wrought-iron and wood design, I think it's very pretty. It needs to be visually light as the bed stands between the door and the window.

At 170 euros, including base and delivery, it is also massively cheaper than the 600 euros the Fjell would have cost. In fact, the mattress will account for most of the spend on the actual bed, as here, we are opting for the same one as we have on our other bed - a pocket-sprung, high-end model that has made a great difference to our sleep. That way, there will be no change when we switch from the 'summer setting' to the 'winter setting'. In the double size, it's about 420 euros. 

Clearing the room has also entailed getting rid of my art deco 'clockface' cocktail cabinet, at which, I admit, I shed a tear. My dad found that for me when I was about 14 and I bought it with my pocket money. My parents then immediately purloined it for their glass collection. But I have never lived anywhere that it looked any good, and it's never 'gone' in this medieval stone house, so I sold it to a 'troc' dealer, and once it had gone and I had gotten over myself, the room suddenly looked enormous.  

Recently, I visited a couple of friends whose house I seriously envy, especially their new garden-room extension. Well, we may not be able to stretch to an extension, but reclaiming over 20 square metres of bedroom certainly feels like a whole new house and is making me feel a lot more positive about winter and I hope I will dread, far less, the act of going to bed, which for the past few winters has entailed putting ON clothes rather than taking them off.

Meanwhile, despite the torrential rain and the comparatively low temperatures, we are indeed using our new 'outdoor room' very frequently, so we're well pleased with that as well.    






A new room

We're revamping the house again.

fjell bed

Well, it's 3.00am and I can't sleep, so I might as well blog... 

We are carrying on with our declutter-fest. Having disposed of 100 items of clothing recently, I just decided to keep going, and then I hit on another bright idea.

We live in a three-storey house, because the attic is converted. But it's glacially cold up there, including our bedroom. It's a lovely room, with a cathedral ceiling and full of light, with its huge Velux window and casement looking out across the garden and orchard. Waking up in the summer months is a great experience, but it's a terrible struggle to keep it warm in winter.

Two years ago, it was 8 degrees, and this winter we managed to get it up to 13 or so degrees, but it cost a fortune in electricity (plug-in radiator, because we can't run the central heating for more than a couple of hours a day, being oil-fired and very expensive), and 13 degrees is still cold enough to wake you up with a cold face.

Then, recently, I hit on a bright idea. On the first floor, right above the living room, is my sewing room. It's long since ceased to be the room where I actually sew and become a repository for junk: fabrics, out of season clothing, my kimono collection and assorted storage (bedding, towels, old diaries, photos, etc) and furniture that's migrated from elsewhere in the house.

However, it's a relatively warm room as it has the chimney for the woodburner running through it and also benefits from the heat that builds up in the room below during the course of an evening. It used to be our guest room but we rejected it as a permanent bedroom for ourselves because it's so dark, lit only by one deep-silled window facing west and a tiny arrow-slit window to the south. 

But, in winter, it suddenly occured to me, this is not an issue, because you go to bed in the dark and you get up in the dark anyway. There's nothing to stop us having a winter bedroom and a summer bedroom. 

As often, when I mentioned it to the DH, it turned out he'd been thinking along similar lines (this often happens - probably a sign we should get married...).

I don't know why we'd never thought of this before. It gives us a ready-made spare bedroom for the occasional visitor and there's plenty of storage under (and on) each bed for items such as spare duvets, which do seem to take up a ridiculous amount of space. Clothing for each season can be stored in the relevant room and we'll just migrate in spring and autumn. 

Of course, the room will still have to do double-duty for sewing, but that is fairly easy, I think, as there is a deep alcove lined in shelving that can be curtained off fairly readily, and we have decided to hire a carpenter friend to build a storage wall on one side to make better use of the difficult space that goes around the spine beam and the sloping chimneypiece.

I have the above bed in mind for this room - the Fjell from Ikea - in order to keep the profile neat and not have dust bunnies under the bed. That, a couple of nightstands and a chair to sit on should suffice and since we want to move two of the four chairs out of our dining room anyway, in order to free up space, that kills another two birds with one stone.

So, this past couple of days I have set to and started chucking out, listing furniture for sale and getting rid of my old massage couch, which I haven't used in years.

It is a good feeling, decluttering and lightening up. You find an enormous amount of crap you've kept for reasons you can't fathom, and a lot of badly used storage (I had a bunch of empty shoe boxes, for instance). I've already filled two rubbish sacks with charity and chuckouts and have decided to start using up some of the sewing stash for quilts to sell on Etsy. 

Right, back to bed... 


In the midst of chaos

Swapping around our bedroom and home office is no mean feat and I'll be glad when it's all over

Just a quick blog this morning, as we are in the middle of an office move. 

In the usual Chinese puzzle fashion of our house, given that all the rooms are occupied, this has meant moving the bedroom into the sewing room, the office onto the landing, then the office into the former bedroom and the bedroom into the former office. And carting everything up a flight of very tight stairs with a bend in it. 

The house looks like a paper mill exploded inside it - I reckon we will cart at least five 120-litre sacks of rubbish out of the house, the vast majority of it paper - old magazines, old cuttings, old source material, out of date accounts...We do try to stay on top of it, we really do, and we aim to have big chuckouts twice a year, but all the same it builds up.  

It will be a while before the sewing room and landing are back to normal, but the weird thing is that we seem to have gained floor space everywhere, just by moving things around. Our old bedroom was enormous, but the new one is still very spacious and has the advantage of a huge cathedral ceiling, which we now lie looking up at - visual space rather than floor space.

Meanwhile, the office - the former bedroom with its low ceilings - has so much more floor space that we've been able to create a seating area for coffee breaks, and allow for much more shelving. Strangely enough, even the landing seems huge now that we've moved our giant daybed into the bedroom and tucked it under a beam - in the new bedroom it seems unobtrusive, but on the landing it was like a whale in a teapot. 

Just goes to show you, you can live in a place for 11 years and still find you've been doing it all wrong.  


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