Friday, February 26, 2016

Creating a book nook...

When a change occurs in your thinking or your style more often than not it is a gradual realisation that one day hits you in the face and brings about a rather surprising 'aha' experience.
Such was the case recently (read about it here) when I discovered the shift in my decorating 'eye' from pure shabby chic to a bohemian/gypsy/vintage/shabby look.

Just the way this drift of personal style had crept up on me over a number of months (perhaps a year?) the time it will take for me to plan and reflect that change in my home and surrounds will also require time; it's not something I can hurry. 
It can't be done on impulse. 
I need to first consider the space in which I live and whether or not it's being used in a way that benefits myself and my husband. After all you can't change cushions, paint furniture, or replace 'stuff' without first being content with the layout of the rooms and assessing their suitability for your family purposes.
During our weekend away I pondered this quite a lot, so when we arrived home from Cairns on Monday afternoon I already had one small plan I could tackle to kick start the makeover of our rental house.

Before I was a designer I was a very contented homeschool mum, taking full educational responsibility for our two youngest children from Grade 1 through to Grades 10 and 12. Books were our lifeblood, and reading was a huge part of every day - not just for learning, but for sheer delight. 
Our walls were covered in bookcases holding stories and ideas in the form of 1,000+ books. We read original novels from the 1600's through to modern literature, and just about anything interesting and inspiring in between. Every afternoon I'd prepare a pot of tea, something delicious such as scones or cinnamon scrolls, and we three would settle into comfy chairs to eat and drink while I read to them for two hours. This was a ritual my children never tired of, even at age 17 and 18 they would still ask me to read to them. 

The kids grew up, got jobs, left home...I designed. Most of the books were sold or donated as we were still moving house each year and Mr E wasn't getting any younger so didn't need the physical stress of carrying 50 heavy book boxes to and from a moving van. 

And you know, that wonderful daily habit of reading vanished, like a balloon taken high and carried out of sight on a windy day it simply wasn't visible in my life anymore. I still read my Bible each day, did regular Bible studies, and browsed many non-fiction books and magazines over a cup of coffee - but I was lucky to be relaxed and engrossed in only one or two a jolly good fictional or autobiographical reads per year. 

Why did I stop reading?
This was one of the things I reflected on during my birthday weekend, sitting on a balcony watching the vivid blue ripples of the Pacific Ocean as the tide rolled in. I'd brought books with me on our mini holiday and actually spent time reading them, happily reading, restfully reading, so why couldn't I do this at home each day despite my best intentions to do so??

Busyness and business  top the list as time takers, but that's a choice I made for myself so they can also be things I adjust to offer a quieter and less intense day.
A comfortable place to read  was close runner up in the obstacles list.
The routine/ritual of afternoon tea times and reading had been broken  when the children started working outside the home and I forgot that I could still read to me.
I thought purchasing books on Kindle  would help because they don't take up shelf space and I could 'carry' them with me wherever I went, but too many are the titles of which I've read the first few chapters and promptly forgot about because I found reading on Kindle a less than enjoyable experience.

The first step to change is to take that step.
If you've seen photos of my house on the blog you know that right beside the galley kitchen is our smallish dining table which sits beneath the large un-curtained front window. (look here)
I decided it was time to move the table into the living area and create for myself a book nook, a place to sit and read in a comfy chair with good natural light.

This idea is still evolving as I need to shift my pattern folders and some of the craft books over to another book case so I can fill this one with 'reading books'...

...but the fact is that I've made a change for the better and as weeks pass the vision I have in my mind and heart for this book nook will come to light.

After re-stocking the reading choices in the bookcase I intend painting the chest of drawers, making a cushion and cover for my chair and finding a suitable footstool I can recover to suit. There's also room between the drawers and bookcase for a lovely indoor plant so a trip to the Sunday markets is also in order. 

I don't mind my view into the kitchen from the book nook because I love being in the kitchen, baking and preparing meals for my husband...
Taking small steps to create what's in your heart doesn't have to be difficult. Not everything needs to be done on a large scale, and it's not necessary to adhere to an 'all or nothing' mindset.
This has been a refreshing revelation for me, and it wasn't overwhelming at all.
From this one change done in a single afternoon I have put in motion two wonderful things that mean a lot - a return to reading for pleasure, and the bones of a nook I can decorate in the style I've recently discovered reflects who I am.

And the bonus for my dear husband is that having the dining table in the living room means he can bring his laptop/work out of the office each evening and sit near me while I stitch and watch my favourite British mysteries. You wouldn't think moving the dining table eight feet to the right would make such a difference but it does.

Is there a step you'd like to take so your own life can be a bit sweeter?
I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment so we can all inspire each other...



gracie said...

I love the room...everything about it!

Ondrea said...

Such a lovely space. I tend to read in bed at night. Having said that, for the past year or so I haven't read much at all. I have gone from about 60 books a year to about 10. I find that I need to get back into it by making time. I have about 10 books sitting on a shelf waiting to be read. The big problem is that I have run out of bookshelves. I love keeping books as they are usually non fiction or a series of a particular author and I don't want to part with them. The idea of a Kindle leaves me cold. I love to sit in bed holding book, flipping the pages . Somehow a Kindle wouldn't feel the same. Also, I like to lend my books and you can't do that with a Kindle. I have heard that Kindle books can actually be removed despite having paid for them! Enjoy your new space, enjoy reading again and enjoy relaxing while you travel to places you have never been to with people you have never met.

Julie said...

Your new little book nook area looks just so welcoming & cosy & inviting Jenny. The perfect spot to curl up with a book & a cuppa. I hope you do find a footstool to decorate, you may come across something at the markets or the thrift stores.

Águeda said...

I like your sweet home. I think : When homemaker`s soul moves, the furniture moves. Each new stage of my life, changes the couch site. When I need a change, one table changes of room :) That is good: Our home evolves with us.
I love read in electronic book. I read lying in bed and the greats books, the weight, is difficult for my. But, when I go to vacances, I love the paper books. In vacances , I read upright :))))
Have a sweet day. God bless you.

Allie-oops Designs said...

What a splendid idea! I still read, but miss being able to read from the kindle app on my phone - not enough storage space. I find it more difficult to hold a heavy book. I like your little nook, dear Jenny, I think it perfectly reflects you and your heart. For me, it would be stress to see into the kitchen, lol....and too close to nibbles that aren't good for me! I tend to eat while I read. One time, I got so engrossed in a good murder mystery that I ate a dozen deviled eggs. Oh the tummyache!

LadyRose said...

Good idea Jenny!
Our house has to reflect our personnality and habits....
I wonder what I'm going to change in mine?? :)
Have a good reading!
(Hope my english is not too bad....)

Baa. xxx said...

Love it! Heading down country to see my Hannah first thing she asks me to bring is 3 of her books - she was missing reading!

Cattinka said...

I want to read more, too. After reading your blogpost I went and ordered some books. Thanks for the inspiration

Christine B said...

Lovely post Jenny! Enjoy your new book nook... it looks great and I am sure it will continue to evolve! Have a lovely weekend! Christine x

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

This is a smart move on all levels. I have gotten away from reading too. I like a book much better than digital. I have become addicted to a digital game. I think I should switch that obsession to reading. Sometimes it only takes a nudge....thank you.
xx, Carol

cucki said...

Aww so beautiful
Love your swet home dear enjoy your sweet cozy book nook cute my dear like you
Happy time x

JES said...

Love this idea and so glad you will acquaint yourself to the world of books again! :) Those hours of reading aloud in our homeschool are precious... Thank you for the reminder that they won't last forever so that I can treasure them more... On a side note, just curious what your favorite British mysteries are... I am always looking for something on the cleaner side if you have any suggestions? :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny what a lovely idea,I love the feel of your rooms,enjoy your beautiful reading nook my friend xx

Little Penpen said...

Oh, you will enjoy your reading nook so much! I agree that reading from the Kindle is not as enjoyable as flipping pages and holding a book in your lap. Plus, when the books are stored away on my Kindle, I just don't think about them. I forget they are there and many have not been read.

Brenda said...

Good Morning Jenny! Oh, what a splendid idea for a special reading area! I am not much of a decorator, yet, I do enjoy every so often moving the furniture around and just changing this or that a tad bit. For quite some time, I have been trying to get the extra bedroom turned into my craft/fabric storage is a mess with not enough shelving and room LOL. It is nice to read that these changes are working for both you and Mr. E. Thank you for sharing and have a fantastic creative day!

Anonymous said...

Demolish the house and start over? =) I do everything in the same place - reading, stitching, watching TV. I do read in bed at night before sleeping, though. I discovered early in life that if I'm not reading something just for pleasure every single day, I become a total grouch! I like your nook. It's appealing and seeing the window open behind your setting ... well, I can hardly wait for the two weeks of spring where I can have MINE open! I think a plant in that space will be great! Do you have a variety in mind? I love plants, and I love cut flowers. I can't afford the flowers I used to get weekly right now, but I'm nursing all my plants along, waiting for them to go out on the deck when we aren't freezing any more. I even potted the bamboo my son abandoned here. I thought it was time for it to have dirt instead of water, and it is flourishing! Thanks for this thoughtful post. I have been thinking for a while that there are some changes that I need to make in my living room. I think I'll start by finding out how to care for my ancient pie safe. It wasn't bought, but built by hand in the 1800s, and I'm sure the wood needs care. Maybe the tin-punched doors do, too. I wouldn't have thought of that if you hadn't posted this today. =)

Michelle said...

I've always included alot of read-alouds in our homeschool day, and we still read aloud to our kids at night, even though the oldest is 21. I also read for my own pleasure, and have been thinking for a while of setting up a nook/tea area. You've inspired me.

Anonymous said...

Discovered your blog last year and am fully enjoying it. Came at a time when I was evaluating what my purpose/job should now be. Gentle domesticity! Interestingly, before the children came it was a wonderful time for husband and self - then life happens! - and somehow we think husband and self shouldn't be our goal. It is purposeful and joyful to care for husband and self and be content with each other daily.

I also found I haven't been reading as much. 1) not enough good material 2) hard to read - meaning my eyesight has diminished and it is hard to read. Got myself specific readers from the dr. and use them also for sewing and it's made all the difference! Digital books don't have the same feel and I don't like them, but I love my Bible on the ipad because I can change up the font and have a more enjoyable read.

Creating a new home is never easy. We are rethinking our dining area into something else for us but still able to use for family meals (when they come home). I'm not shabby chic but find I'm using more whites than I would ever have anticipated.

Good luck with your metamorphism. RSmith in WI, USA

Anonymous said...

I love reading it is my constant source of pleasure and has been since I first learnt how to do it. I am never without a book and when on holiday maybe read 6 or 7 in week. It is one of my main relaxations and I read everywhere, at the kitchen table while eating, in bed, on the bus and train. I am like you not a huge fan of the Kindle, I do appreciate that they are very useful and when I was away for work for 3 weeks a while ago appreciated having it as I could never have taken that many books with me. But I share books with my Mum and daughter and you just can't do that with a Kindle.
Hope that your new reading space means that you get lots more time to enjoy books, I will leave you with a quote from a post I have just done for my students about World Book Day which is next Thursday.
"Once you get reading, there's no stopping you. You can go anywhere. Explore the whole world."

Winifred said...

I love to read too but I do it mainly on holiday. The reason is I can't put books down, I have to finish them so I'm up half of the night!
Like you I prefer books. I downloaded books onto my tablet but I've never bothered with them. I think the bright screen puts me off.
How amazing that must have been reading with the girls every afternoon. You've given them some lovely memories there and created a great love of reading.
Like you I do love a mystery whether it's on telly or a book. I love the Andrea Camilleri series of Inspector Montalbano books & the TV series have been wonderful even thought they have subtitles. I've also enjoyed the Camilla Lackberg books about Inspector Patrik Hedstrom but no tell series that I've heard of.
Happy reading & reorganising Jenny.

Createology said...

You have created a wonderful comfortable reading space to enjoy any time of day or night. I still enjoy reading books and seem to do more Redding in Winter. It helps that I have "real books" for daylight hours and my eNook for night darkness. When my husband travelled a lot for business I would spend countless hours in my upstairs library which always seemed cozy and safe. Now that library room sits idle and lonely. Reading is a wonderful way to enrich our worlds...

janice15 said...

Very lovely space, I just talked about this finding a special place for yourself and surrounding yourself with things that you love.. With love Janice

EMRC said...

Bordar é algo muito especial. É colocar a delicadeza da alma por meio de fios e cores,
que enfeitam o dia-a-dia, dando-lhe graça e leveza. Em breve, espero iniciar um curso de
bordado. São lindos os seus trabalhos e sem dúvidas irão me inspirar. Um abraço!

EMRC said...

Lembrei de dizer que tenho um grupo no facebook chamado
"Focados em Leitura". Adoraria a participação de Jenny
e de seus leitores. Obrigada! Elda Maria Rodrigues

Unknown said...

Love the idea of a reading nook. I try to read something each day whether it us a book or magazine and done times look looking at my patterns. Can't wait to see your chair civer and footstool.

Mimi said...

Jenny, I cannot believe that you and I haven't met before. I am a friend of Annabels at The Bluebirds are Nesting, and I just found you at Jes's linkup at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth. Serendipty I guess! Well, it's a pleasure to meet you and I'm guessing you're an Aussie blogger too? Your little reading nook is glorious, and as someone of a similar 'vintage' I too, miss my reading. My baby girl is in Year 11 and we still have a little while to go, but I will look forward to creating a nook much like yours in a year or two. I have to add too, that your embroidery is deee-vine. Love, Mimi xxx