Is having your own room the secret to being happier in your home? I just had a spat with my minimalist husband who complained about the 20 tablecloths I have hanging in his wardrobe. Okay, that was a mistake. While I should never have hung them up in his closet, it seemed the logical place given he has a huge amount of space. I am a full-blown maximalist. I love being surrounded by beautiful things. Also, I love having an abundance of choice. However, I come from a long line of pack rats. So my natural tendency to keep everything can get me into trouble on occasion with my husband who has the opposite instincts. He enjoys getting rid of things and finds it exhilarating whereas I find it difficult, painful and exhausting. It also feels so terribly wasteful. I tend to part ways only when something has been thoroughly and completely used up.
I asked him how many tablecloths he felt would be acceptable. He thought we could get by with one or two. Then I explained that we have different sized tables and need round ones for the round tables and rectangular ones for rectangular tables. I agreed to half my tablecloth collection, albeit with great reluctance, and to half the cookbook collection. We agreed to donate it all to Oxfam to keep things simple and easy.
But when it comes to my antiques, I just can’t seem to let them go. (Want to clear your clutter? Read about clutter clearing tips for maximalists here).
I love antiques and he likes modern; I like cozy and he likes cool. Sometimes, I wonder why we ever got married. Ha! Thankfully, he counteracts my natural default setting to excess. He prompts me to periodically do a big purge and donate loads to charity. So what am I going to do? I don’t want to part with my lovely antiques and he doesn’t want to look at them…
I’ve come up with a simple solution: a room of my own.
We have two guest rooms in the house. So I’m going to take over one room for “My room of beautiful things”. I will donate one of the two single beds so that it can still serve as a guest room, if needed. To make the space mine, I’ll add a writing desk, and paper the room in toile (I’m the only one in the house who happens to love toile). I remember seeing a magazine photo of a pied a terre in London and it was a glorious studio apartment that was elegant and full of museum pieces of sculpture and art all beautifully displayed right there among the kitchen pots and pans. They managed to do everything in one small but artistically appointed space.
I have a home office over the garage, but that is a very functional space with computers and printers and files. This is going to be entirely different…a magical space with the books and music I love. A little retreat space just for me and all my beautiful things. This way I won’t be bothering anyone else in the house and can sit and enjoy my things in peace while I write or meditate. I think this may be the solution that enables my minimalist husband to feel good as he has no need or reason to go up to the top floor and look at my beautiful things. Perfect!
A girlfriend who recently downsized wondered why, as grownups, we have to share a bedroom but the kids get a room of their own? If you can spare the room, why not claim it for your own? You can then decorate and fill it with your personal collections or treasures to your heart’s content. Or, leave it empty and use it for yoga or meditation. One of my clients has a large basement filled with all sorts of stuff, but doesn’t have a room of her own. The solution is to clear out the junk, set aside a wall for storage, and then set up the space for her crafts and other projects.
If you don’t have any room in the house, perhaps you could convert the garage or add a home office in the back garden. Another friend of mine bought a camper van they use for family getaways and a guest room. Then she turned the guest room into a study for herself. The key is to rethink how you are using your space and change it around so that it gives you the greatest happiness and joy.
If you have a formal dining room that rarely gets used, could you transform it? One family has a ping pong table in the dining room. When they entertain, they simply cover it with a big tablecloth. I’ve also seen billiards tables that can be converted into dining room tables. Maybe all you need is a card or game table that is folded away when not in use. If you love books, could you turn your dining room into a library by lining the walls with bookshelves, adding a comfy chair and reading lamp?
Reassess the space in your home and reconfigure it so that you and your family are happier. I’ve found that as the kids have grown and changed, so have our needs.