Friday, November 11, 2011

to make a home

Today, a break from the usual, I will not be joining SouleMama for {this moment}.

Just over one month ago we moved into this lovey new apartment in Chicago.  At our very first (and only) showing, I fell in love with it after about a minute.  It speaks to me of my childhood with its very high ceilings, heavy pocket doors, tall windows, crown molding and quirky modernizations.  The home(s) that I spent my early days in were both Victorian and that's what this apartment is also.  I was just a baby at the time, but I'm told that my parents and grandfather did a huge amount of work on our first house to make it a home.  This apartment that we're in now is beautiful, but it has clearly been lived in for many, many years and has not been updated or cleaned and decorated (and redecorated) with its best interest in mind.  A few examples would be - the electrical wiring is all on the outside of the walls, there are layers of paint over all of the light switches and cover plates (though thankfully the switches still work), the tiles in the bathroom are loosing their cheap exterior, some of the walls are very cracked and totally uneven, there is a "closet" in the middle of the kitchen that holds the hot water heater.

Essentially, our place still feels like a rental unit, not quite our home.  Of course, we have all our furniture in here but it's all things that we bought to fit our previous apartment, which may or may not fit properly in this apartment.  We know we want to paint a few of the rooms but we're having trouble settling on a color and my mind keeps moving from one style or picture that I like to another.

I have a number of interior design books that I picked up second-hand a few years ago in the hopes that they could feed my creative side.  Creating a space, especially in a house {to make it a home}, is important to me and it is not always easy to do.  Then, through a rather odd connection I ended up doing a creative advertisement job for Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan [long story short, I was in New York on my semester off and a college friend was his child's nanny; he needed advertisement for his website's color contest and our "theater company" needed money so I painted all of my visible body blue and went with friends to pass out fliers on the streets of new york].  I had no idea who this man was at the time, but I ended up with his book, Apartment Therapy.  Turns out he runs a very popular business and website of the same name.

I've owned the book for a few years now and finally picked it up last night.  It has struck a cord with me.  Maxwell has worked as an interior designer and a Waldorf teacher before launching this apartment therapy business and subsequent website/blog.  His training culminates in an understanding of home that is both spacial/aesthetic and spiritual/emotional.  He talks in this book about the "energy" of a home and warns that when we alter our homes and seek to make changes, changes should be expected to appear in our lives.  Our homes are part of who we are and they are deeply emotional places as well as physical space.  This is the only book I've read so far that talks about home from this perspective [although Home Comforts comes close and will be a good companion in this effort]. 

The subtitle of the book is "the eight-step home cure."  The majority of the book is devoted to helping you restore health to the organic space that is your home.  He leads you through self-examination (of yourself and your home) and then helps you diagnose yourself.  Based on the result, you either follow the deep-treatment steps or the one-room steps.  The first is meant to bring big restoration and change to your way of living in your home and making long-put-off changes to it; the latter is for when your home is relatively healthy, but a certain room needs an update.

After taking the quiz, it looks like we'll be in for the deep-treatment.  On the surface, I really like our home but I think we need to focus on the big things before we get to paint colors.  And Maxwell was right ... it brought up some serious emotions thinking about the state of my home and what I wish for it - insecurities, childhood dreams, even a bit of confusion over what my "style" is.  Grady will take the quiz too and then we'll find out where to go from there.  My hope is that we will start the eight steps (which take 1 week each to complete) towards a cure soon!  We don't have much by way of funds and we rent this place but I'm willing to stretch my imagination as far as possible to make this space feel more like our home.  We'll see what's in store!

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