Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Space and simplicity

I have just finished reading Margaret Forster's book Keeping the world away - a novel about the effect that Gwen John's painting of the corner of an attic bedroom has on the women who hang it on their walls.

It is, in part, a study of the yearning for simplicity and control symbolised by the spare, composed painting.

I enjoyed the book very much and was thinking of it today while I drove though the sublime landscape of deep cleft valleys and deep reflective lochs that is between here and Loch Fyne.

It is a beautiful, beautiful drive, I was on my own in the car and it is quite the most relaxing thing I have done this week. I was going up to The Tree Shop, run by the Ardkinglas tree nursery to pick up some beautiful white birch trees - Betula utilis "Jacquemontii snowqueen" which I am intending to use to make a small glade at this wedding in ten days time. The idea is that it will make the large space a bit more intimate and give a sense of enclosure for the guests who want to sit down after the meal away from the music.

At the moment the state of the house is getting to me. It is completely my own fault so I can't really complain - but I do. It isn't really a case of it not being clean - it is just that we have far too much stuff in a house with no storage and I try to run a business at the same time. Add into this mix we bought kitchen furniture before we have enlarged the kitchen and that we are all messy, messy creatures who can't seem to pick up anything off our seemingly magnetic floors.

The result is a feeling of camping in amidst piles of toppling stuff - it is driving me mad and I now want to move out into Gwen John's little attic with only a chair, a desk and a vase of primroses.


alice c said...

Don't worry Jane - it is normal. It is part of having a busy, happy family. There are ways of improving the situation and I am sure there are some that work for your family but I know that my house is tidiest when the children are not there. And that is not so much maybe tripping over my son's shoes is a price worth paying.

carolyn said...

This post really struck a note with me. I sometimes wonder if I will ever have a tidy house but actually most of the time I don't really give a hoot because everyone is happy - like pigs in muck!

Alison said...

You ave magnetic floors as well!
I think it is a side effect of having children:-)
Alison x

the flour loft said...

hello Jane,
I love the mind space that driving in beautiful country side creates. I also at times yearn for a simple space with little clutter. My reality sounds similar to yours. My house is well shall we say 'lived in' but it is a happy, creative home and i am proud of it..things are unfinished and probably will remain so for a good while. Don't get me wrong it does sometimes get on top of me ( this weekend in fact).. i sound off for a bit .. get everyone active with a bit of sorting out , set a few 'tidy responsibilities'( which come next week will have been forgotten by kids,husband and me) and then realise it's not so bad... till the next time!
hope you can create a wee bit of time to attack the bit that's pissing you off the most.. it will lighten everything else and make you feel the rest at some stage is also achievable.

Gigibird said...

I have the same problem - too many possessions and not enough/any storage. I've tried 'culling' but there is only so much I can dispose of.
Have you considered wall to wall 'hidden' cupboards?
I too think it's normal if you're not a tidy freak to have a house that looks like a bomb has hit it.

Tracy said...

i have the same feelings as you at the moment - surrounded by boxes and stacked furniture.....
today i finally reached the moment when i could not stand it anymore - i emptied one bedroom of everything, cleaned and hoovered, and put just a matteress on the floor to sleep on.
can you clear a small space and call it your own?
if not keep going on those wonderful drives!
tracy x

Raindrops said...

oh welcome to my world and I am so glad I am not alone. And I know it will get worse now the school holidays are here. The magnetic floors will go into overdrive. Like you we have far too much stuff in the house and not enough storage. I feel overwhelmed at times by the whole thing family, business, house, the lot. But this summer (such as it is at the moment) I am on a mission to be ruthless and get rid of stuff and do some decoration and try and put some order into my house. Well that is the plan ;-) (who am I kidding it will all go pear shaped I hear you say LOL) Tricia

Jane said...

It will get better - part of the problem is that we are meant to be extending into the garage - this is now about 6 months late.

There is something very destructive about house plans - they make you see how the house will be much better, much easier, how I will have a room of my own, how there will be cupboards and more than one bathroom and a utility room that isn't a futility room and so on. It makes you quite fed up with what is there at the moment.

Today we are off to visit Ospreys and crannogs and pretend we are the kind of parents that take their children places.

I'm very glad that other people have magnetic floors.