Over the years, I have discovered that I am part of a secret underground of people who are virtually incapable of NOT rearranging spaces where we are staying. We quietly shift them to come closer to our personal sense of harmony or to infuse beauty into the downright ugly, like the little still-life (below) psychotherapist Rachel Fleishman forged in a somewhat dilapidated, bare-bones cabin she stayed in in July. All of it is improvised, using whatever is at hand.
This strange, essential form of decorating is due in part to an acute sense of personal feng shui/harmony, and in part to a kind of survivalist mentality. In hotel rooms I hide placards, take down “art”, remove a busy bedspread or use its neutral side to cover ugly sofas and armoires, and shift the position of chairs. Crazy? Control freak? Highly Sensitive Person? Maybe. But if it makes me feel better, why not, especially since it does no harm? All can be changed back in a few moments.
Here are some small adjustments I made to the lovely, simple, very peaceful country house a friend and I stayed in recently, and the logic behind them.* My friend said they made the place better. What do you think?
Since one of my priorities is waking up to a great view whenever possible, I slept with my head at the foot of the bed, a simple shift of pillows made after reading in the normal position before sleep. It takes viewing the bed as NOT having a fixed direction. Odd perhaps, but it was lovely to wake to the corner of forest. (To calm the room further, I also disappeared the blinking digital clock by the bed and a couple of tchotchkes, replacing them before leaving).
I noticed right away that two writing tables in the house were faced away from the wonderful view. In the living room, one was placed along the back of the long sofa, so it looked into the house and at the big (necessary) air conditioner.
Turning it 45 degrees to face the window allowed my friend and I to write looking out at the woods and made the space seem bigger.
In the little second bedroom, the table faced a wall to look through the door into the living room, with the windows behind and out-of-sight. Another 45 degree shift of table and we could write looking out at the trees.
It took me a couple of days to figure out the solution to the stereo system that stuck up a few inches above the window sill to insert “electronics” into the serene view.
As I sat mulling the shelf the stereo was on, I realized that if I just turned it UPSIDE-DOWN (with its legs in the air) and replaced everything as it was on the three (now flipped) shelves, the stereo would be just the right height below the sill, with little change in the owner’s placement or access to the CDs.
So I tried my idea out. Taking everything off the shelf gave me a chance to check out the CD’s and replace orphans into their cases…
Et voila: an unobstructed view and a curiously BIG relief to my eye. I wondered if the owner would notice.
And finally, though there was a huge covered porch, the only seating were director’s chairs, not the comfortable Adirondack chairs we would have loved to hang out in. So we carefully moved the easy chair in the living room outdoors (making sure to monitor the weather), using a director’s chair as foot stool and table. To chase mosquitos away one hazy afternoon, I set up an old fan I found in a closet, remembering that mosquitos don’t like moving air. It became a lovely place to read, write, think. We moved the chair back inside when it threatened to rain.
For those of us who do this naturally, we’ve learned to listen to our hyper-aware-of-space selves, in order to feel comfortable and balanced. It is something that can be practiced by “listening” to the space, and how we feel in the moment, and assuming the “Why not” mindset. (For those lucky enough to feel fine just as things are, don’t mess with a good and efficient thing.)
*Apologies for the not-brilliant photo quality. On vacation, I didn’t think I’d turn this into a post…