A Space of One’s Own

May 16th, 2008

The need for an alone place, a place where you express yourself as an individual and reconnect to your essence is often overlooked in homes because it seems impractical or unimportant.  Yet it is a crucial component to your home.   Virginia Wolfe describes the significance of having a private space in her book A Room of One’s Own.  The book was written at a time when female authors were relegated to the parlor in the company of family and friends to hone their craft.  Though she advocated specifically for women and their need for a private room, her message holds true for us all; we need a place of our own to develop our creativity.  Art studios, wood shops, work areas or a garden provide a place for quiet reflection and creative endeavors that are grounding.  These spaces do not necessarily need to be a separate room.  They can be as simple as a table in an alcove, a desk niche under a stairway, or work bench in the garage devoted to tying flies.  They are the pulse of the home.


Every person in your home needs a space to call their own.  Take some time to evaluate your home and determine how each room is used and who uses it.  It’s not uncommon for rooms to be shared by several people but consider carving out individual space within the context of a larger room.  Determine which rooms in your home have potential for personal niches.


This music space is nestled in the corner of the great room.

Don’t overlook the kids.  Creating a special space for children can be playful and fun.  These can be temporary and or portable, such as a castle made from an appliance box or permanent such as a bedroom loft, a closet niche, or a tree house.


The curtains added to this bed niche creates a great child’s hide-away

Don’t forget the adults.  Many families have separate bedrooms for each child, yet the couple often shares their space. It can be difficult to find a place for personal endeavors but make it a priority.  It may mean reclaiming the guest bedroom, finishing a room in the basement, adding a loft in the garage, or building a small greenhouse in the yard.


This garage loft is a perfect place for wood working

Dream a little.  Make a list of activities you enjoy doing and begin envisioning the perfect space you would create for yourself if time or money was not an obstacle.  Begin collecting photographs that capture the essence your place.  Sketch simple plans or purchase some small item that reminds you of your dream and makes it tangible.


For the owner of this home, the climbing wall off the dining room is a dream-come-true

Create a ritual for your space.  Perhaps you can set a specific time aside each day to spend in your place.  My uncle, an avid gardener, would head to his garden everyday after work to unwind and reconnect with nature before joining the family for dinner.  Another person may rise early each morning, light a candle and nestle into their overstuffed chair for a time of meditation.


Burning incense is a simple ritual that engages the senses

Make an alter for meditation or prayer spaces.  Creating a focal point in a room is a powerful tool that connects you to a space and is especially true for personal places of retreat.  This is an opportunity to display meaningful objects, to express your unique personality and also deepen your relationship with the divine.


A simple alter with meaningful objects


Small or crowded houses can make it difficult to find personal space. Consider a spring clean, reorganizing closets and cabinets; discarding unused items and seldom worn clothes.  Paring down can allow a place to store a sacred space chest that holds art supplies, sewing notions, collections or other items that can be brought out and used daily without requiring a separate room or niche for the activity.  Using a folding screen that can be tucked in a closet when not in use can provide a private place without taking away square footage from your home.  Fold-away furniture is another wonderful way to maximize limited space allowing multiple uses in one room. (see side bar for resouces)


The art box allows this artist to paint where ever she finds space

Noise can interfere with the activity you’ve chosen to nurture your soul.  The acoustics of your home is an important element to consider when locating your private space.   Depending on what you’re doing, choose a place away from the most active areas in your home.  Adding insulation to interior walls and floors, using soft materials such as tapestries or rugs to dampen sound, or adding white noise such as a fountain to your space can help minimize noise intrusion.  Another option is to pick a time of day, either early in the morning or in the evening, when others are away or asleep to allow for an uninterrupted time of quiet.

Soaking in a tub tucked away from the activity of the household is a pleasant evening retreat

Busy lives can make it difficult to find time for the activities you enjoy and bring you back to center.  Creating a specific place to engage in these pastimes will help motivate you to set time aside for what you love.  Scheduling a specific time of day or day of the week and actually writing it in your planner is another way to honor your dreams.  Committing to small increments of time, say 10-15 minutes each day is a simple way to make space for what’s important to you.


This hermitage is the ultimate Space of One’s Own providing a place of quiet solitude

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