Living With Authenticity.

Living with authenticity is living in a home which reflects and accepts your true life. Similar to the joy you experience when you are your true self; a home that caters to your life can bring you peace and joy.

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The living room is our movie room, play room, reading room, hang-out room, music room, and dance room.

I often have people (mostly my friends or neighbors) ask me to help them with their homes.  Most of the time, as they hopelessly wrangle their hands in despair at the state of their home, I realize that they are trying to live up to certain ideals of what they think a home should be.  Often when someone tells me that they need to move (often to the suburbs); or they want more space; or they need a bigger yard; or they need a bigger kitchen;  I realize their discontent stems from them living in a way that doesn’t embrace their authentic life.

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Jai’s room is our play room, hang out spot, music room and art room.

Living in an inauthentic home is similar to being around an inauthentic person.  They both make your uncomfortable.  Countless times I’ve had people say they dislike coming home or they feel restless at home. The solution to living in an authentic home is not simple because you have to be introspective .  Most people shy away from this.  With our constant distractions by our phones, computer, TV etc. we seek to escape the present instead of revelling in it.  However, if we can honestly evaluate our homes (and our lives because one does lead to the other) and make our homes work for us the transformation is quite magical.  Most importantly this isn’t expensive and doesn’t require moving, expanding or spending a lot of money.  A minimal budget is often sufficient.

The most common issue I’ve realized is uncomfortable furniture.  Please throw out those overly stuffed sofas, or the too modern sofa with very little space to sit on.  Buy a comfortable, slender couch.  There are so many options!

Living in row homes in Philly there is generally no space for a “play room”.  I hear people with children incessantly lamenting the lack of space for a play room.  I say if you simply can’t designate a room as a “play room” accept it and move on.  We don’t have a designated room as a play room and I really don’t understand the need for a play room.  Children should be welcome into all the rooms in our homes. I think it is a common misperception of parents that children need toys to play.  Children can help cook dinner and play in the kitchen with water, bowls and spoons.  They can draw and paint in the dining room.  They can read in the living the room…the list is endless.  What we need to do is provide them with a home that they can enjoy.  I suggest dining tables that can be wiped down, floors like wood or tile that can be easily cleaned and furniture that isn’t too precious .  I am not suggesting clearing away all beautiful objects or breakable objects.  Children appreciate beauty just as much and most times more than adults. Whenever I buy fresh flowers Kiran and Jai always make a small flower arrangement for their rooms.  They haven’t dropped or broken any of their vases.

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Fresh flowers, plants, and foliage bring nature into our house.

Another common issue I see is unused space.  People often have a guest room that lays empty unless they have guests visiting or formal living rooms they never use.   Meanwhile more and more people seem to be finishing their basements and living entirely in their basements! Basements have become living rooms, play rooms, office rooms, and TV rooms.  Meanwhile the living room or guest room above ground, often filled with great light and beautiful proportions remains under utilized.  I’m biased towards basements:  I don’t like to live in them. They are musty and damp and there is nothing that can be done about it.  Whether they are new construction homes, or updated basements in old row homes you just can’t get around the fact that they are below grade and have very little light.  We can use our guest rooms as office rooms, and living rooms can also be TV rooms  or office rooms.  I like the small separate rooms in row houses because they are cozy and offer privacy.  By keeping the separate rooms we can use each room for various things.

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The bathroom is the kids play-in-the-tub-forever room, spa room and dressing room

Your home, whether it is grand or small, whether you rent or own, is where you spend your private time.  It should envelope you with comfort and joy.  Take the time to assess your home and then start your path to living in your authentic home.  Dispel any rules that are floating around in your head telling you how you should live.  Instead take the time to see and understand what you really need.

Simplicity.

I love how the word simplicity rolls off the tongue.  It is such an  unassuming word with such a depth of significance.  I’ve found myself moving towards simplicity in decorating and other aspects of my life. Decorating with simplicity doesn’t mean living a spartan life. Simplicity to me means living with what you love.  Creating beauty at home is the ultimate luxury.  Simple cut flowers from our tiny garden, a lit candle, a favorite record playing…these are the things that make me happy.

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Kiran cut and arranged these flowers

I’ve been a collector of stuff for a long time.  I collected photographs, notes, books, furniture and almost anything else that I found sentimental or beautiful.  In the last few years I felt a tug to let go.   I have emptied drawers, closets (we don’t have a lot of closets) and the basement.  I mercilessly threw out or donated anything that I didn’t use, wouldn’t use or wasn’t beautiful.

Everything now has a place.  Our drawers are generally half filled.  Jai + Kiran get Ikea boxes in which to store their paintings/drawings and notes and we label them with a date range.  Really nice art gets framed and goes up on the wall. Similarly, I enlarge photographs that we like, frame them and add them to the wall. I display the photographs and art work in ad hoc arrangements. I especially like hanging things low to the ground so that Kiran+ Jai can enjoy them.

This is a photograph of Jai’s room.  He picked which pictures we hung over his bed.

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Jai’s Room

This is our living room wall.  One day I would like to buy a white wall hung T.V.  For now I try to hide the T.V. in the surrounding pictures.

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Living Room: photographs and paintings

On a recent trip to Greece Kiran + Jai collected  rocks, pebbles and large pieces of bark from olive trees.  Instead of just storing these I made  rock mobiles and hung them around the house.  Displaying treasures allows us to appreciate them everyday.

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making a rock mobile with jute thread

A clutter free home allows us to enjoy our time at home. Before we head out in the morning, however constrained we are for time, I tidy up the living room and dining room.  I fluff the pillows, put stray objects away and clear the dining room of breakfast dishes. This ensures that when I walk in from work I can relax and enjoy my time with kids.  When I put my key in the door I am always filled with joy and anticipation to be home.

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Living Room on a dark rainy day

 

Dining Room Corner.

I love that it feels almost like Spring (even though Spring has officially started). While it isn’t warm yet the light in the house has been amazing.  Here’s a quick photograph of the dining room corner.

We are very lucky to have two very large windows facing West in our dining room. The windows open up to a breeze-way which abuts an alley instead of another house.   This small difference between our house and our neighbors houses makes a huge impact in the amount of light we get.

Gone are the days when I would site quietly at the table in the early morning hours, enjoying my latte, and staring out the windows.  These days there is a flurry of activity in our house starting at 6 AM which may include early morning paper shredding…

Kiran eating his breakfast.

Jai eating his oatmeal with a fork.
I recall once sitting at the table and lazily thinking that I should install a wind chime outside the windows.  A good way for me to jump start my spring house projects will be to finally hang the wind chime…maybe next weekend….

It’s a Jungle Outside!

I overheard Kiran telling one of his friends at his school that we have a jungle outside our house!  Every year we sprinkle several sun flower seeds in the tiny cement-less area where we planted our tree.  Every year when the sunflowers bloom and we get visits from the most amazing array of birds I have ever seen in Philly.  There are these small birds with bright yellow feathers who come several times a day and they are so beautiful to watch.  They hop from flower to flower eating something (seeds?).  At the end of summer we pick a few flowers and remove the seeds and dry them inside.  Once they are completely dry I wrap them in paper towels and store them to be planted next summer.

Kiran and Jai outside our house

A half eaten sunflower

Our little garden patch also has a cold hardy saucer hibiscus and Rose of Shannon which faithfully bloom every year. I also planted an ornamental grass which is HUGE now.  I had no idea it would get so big. 

The hardy Saucer Hibiscus and Rose of Shannon

In the front of our house we have several potted plants.  Most of the plants stay outside year round.  I move the pot of Canna Lillies and the purple pot with “Wandering Jew” to the basement during winter.  Most of the plants are perennials and I also have some ever greens.  This is really not a very good picture because most of the plants are not in bloom.  But generally the orange rose plant (Joseph’s Coat), the hydrangeas, the butterfly bush, the red rose bush and the Canna Lillies are in bloom from Spring through late Fall. 

The Front of the House

Kiran’s Room Update.

It has been a while since I posted pictures of Kiran’s more grown up room.  We replaced his crib with a full size bed.  We opted for a full size bed because there was ample space for a full bed and we both prefer to lay down in his bed while reading to him. 

//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js This room has four large windows and is flooded with light.  I hung some fairy lights over Kiran’s bed which looks magical at night.  There are a lot of different types of light in this room just as in the rest of the house.  I rarely use the overhead lights, unless we are doing a painting project, puzzle etc.  There is a yellow bedside light (Ikea) for reading, a desk light (for all desk activities also from Ikea), wicker light (Ikea) for when we have dance parties or when the room needs to look moody, and another task light over the settee for reading.  All the lights in his room were inexpensive.

The bedspread is from Urban Outfitters, the long cushion is a new Vera print bought on sale at Anthropologie and the other cushion is from Urbanoutfitters.  The dresser is Scott’s old dresser from when he was a kid.  I plan on painting it sometime soon. 

 The vintage Casalino yellow chairs were our gift to Kiran for his 4th Birthday.  I think I paid $40 for the pair on eBay.  We made the desk using Ikea legs and a table top (also from Ikea) that Scott cut to measure the space.  The vintage settee (to the right of the below picture) needs to be upholstered. 

 The view from the second floor hallway into Kiran’s room.

This, that and the other.

It’s been a while…

Where have I been?  Well, we had another baby, Jai born on July 10, 2012.  Work has been crazy busy since my last post which has left me very little time to blog.  This does not mean that nothing has happened as far as renovating our house.  Partly due to my nesting instinct and partly because I was so busy at work and I was craving a creative release, we have done a lot of work to our house! More regular posts to follow. 

I’m Back!

The nightmare is over.  It turned out that Kiran also got an infection from the hospital likely due to the stint for the IV drip.  Anway he is better, Scott is better and we are safely back in gorgeous cold and snowy Philly! I think that it will probably take me a while to get over the emotional aspects of this trip.  I generally hate blaming others or harboring emotions of resentment for things in the past because it is just such a waste of time and really only serves to drive me crazy.  For whatever reason I am still angry about Kiran and Scott getting Dengue and the circumstances surrounding the illness, my parents reaction to the illness and  the magnitude of the decisions we had to make and the knowledge that a small miscalculation on our part could have resulted in a dire situation.  So while I am (unsuccessfully) trying to parse out these emotions I haven’t started on any new house projects.

However, after seeing this picture of this mirror for the second time (I initially saw it on Living Etc.) I am inspired! Isn’t it fabulous? I have a couple large vintage mirrors just gathering dust and I would like to paint one of them like this.  Maybe I will run out and buy some paint tomorrow after work…