Window seat

Bringing the magic to your home

As a child I read a lot – and I mean a lot. The places people lived in those books ranged from normal houses to castles, homes by the sea or boarding schools, amongst others. And in these diverse dwellings there seemed to be a liberal sprinkling of window seats. It was where you curled up with a book, watched the weather, waited for those who had been away or just dreamed the day away. And so my longing for a window seat began.

When we moved to our present home nearly 18 years ago, the bay window in our bedroom had definite window seat potential, but I resisted – it’s an old house and we had a lot of more essential items to budget for, like a new boiler and double glazing.

That bay window space needed something, so first we tried a wooden blanket box, but cushions on the top slid off and it left funny shaped gaps either side. Next I acquired a very small decorative sofa my mother no longer wanted. I knew I should have removed the decorative fringing as wasn’t really my taste, but I didn’t want to disturb it until I’d decided which fabric to recover it with. (In the meantime our cats decided to deal with the fringing for me…) The sofa never seemed to really work either facing into the room or looking out of the window and was really a place to put stuff rather than a seat.

After a few years the bedroom reached a point where it was time to re-decorate and replace the faded curtains. And at that point my husband persuaded me to give in to my long held fantasy of a window seat. Now it’s hard to remember the room without it.

The seat hides a useful cupboard which houses spare duvets and my yoga mat. Which is very convenient as the floor space in front of it is where I practise yoga. The cabinet was built in, painted and finished off with a fitted cushion covered in a wonderful textured velvet I hadn’t been able to resist in a sample sale.

The point in sharing this, is not because I assume everyone shares my strange fascination with window seats – but to suggest that perhaps the physical features that bring us joy in our homes go beyond the latest trend or what we saw in our friend’s home or a magazine page.

As a child particular spaces or pieces of furniture can take on a magical significance. As an adult we probably know we’re not going to step through the back of a wardrobe into a mystical land of talking animals, lions and witches. But that doesn’t mean as adults we can’t bring a bit of everyday magic to our homes. 

To the person who loves clothes there is something very special about stepping into a carefully laid out walk in wardrobe with a place for everything. To the keen crafter or artist there is definitely something magical in finding perfect storage – whether it’s in a home studio or simply the right combination of shelves and cupboards. The satisfaction in seeing your tools and materials carefully stored and waiting for you is a kind of inspiration to create in itself.

If there’s something you do that means a lot – read, practise yoga, lift weights, paint, play music, collect model soldiers – creating space for that activity in your home will make a world of difference. 

You may say ‘I don’t have space’. But before you convince yourself that’s true, take a look at what you do give space to. Do you have tins with bits of paint from decorating that took place several years ago? I understand why you kept it at the time, but chances are it’s now not fit to use. How about clothes that don’t fit? Equipment you don’t use? Old electrical or IT kit? Boxes for things you don’t store in them, that are long since out of guarantee?

The pandemic lockdowns forced many of us to spend longer in our homes. And maybe that had useful lessons for us about our homes, about what’s important, if we listen. So grab yourself a coffee, something to write on and ask yourself these questions:

– What do I really like to do at home?
– Where do I read / sew / paint / play music / exercise / meditate? (delete as appropriate, and add in your own suggestions – this is about you, not some imagined ‘ideal’ existence)

– Do I have spaces that encourage me to do the things I enjoy?
– Do I have space to be alone?
– Are there spaces in my home that depress or annoy me?
– What’s my favourite view from my home?
– What’s my favourite inanimate object? – irrespective of age, condition or value.

When you answer these questions you’ll be one step closer to adding magic to your home. And hopefully you’ll see we didn’t need a castle with many rooms – just space to do the things we love.

If you’d like help to make the wish a reality, drop me a line. 

Window seat

Jeanette Mercer interior designer from Fresh Traditions based in Horsham.

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