Sunday, February 26, 2017

Personal Space in Retirement-Do You Have Your "Sweet Spot"?

When we chose our current home, it was a joint decision. The investors wanted us to be long term, invested tenants (who would improve the property). So there were an awful lot of criteria in this selection. Although I could live with a step into the house, everything else had to be one level for me. Unlike a Golden Girl scenario with bedroom and shared space everywhere else, we wanted as much individual space as we each could get. This meant basically a single floor for each person and a shared kitchen and two living spaces.  There were a lot of other requirements including large front windows.

Notice my room is turquoise of course!

By dividing this space we have both ended up with completely separate areas. Her space includes an almost double sized living room (big enough to include an art studio), full bath, large office and large bedroom. My space includes a bedroom, guest room, office and bathroom and our shared space includes a very large kitchen, guest bath and two living spaces. Rarely do we invade each others space unless I need the laundry/storage room (downstairs) or she needs the storage closet/pantry (in my apartment). Never is one offended by the other disappearing. 

Part of dividing that shared space meant taking two rooms on both sides of the large kitchen (one with a fireplace, one narrow room going out to our patio and pergola) and creating two living spaces rather than say, a dining room and living room. The long narrow living room leading out to the patio became the dog room (notice the blankets) and the "TV" room for lack of a better word. The other space has two large comfy chairs, and a dining room table in it's smallest position. This has become a so called "quiet" room and leads to my private space, and the back living room leads downstairs to a separate apartment. The end result is that one living area has been designated as hers and one as mine.

An unusual configuration, with the table in the center, but it works for us and we are missing a large entrance alcove, so this table sometimes gets used as a staging area! My living room.

A never clean kitchen which divides the area and could hold a large dining room table. Note the wood above the fridge where the movers tried to fit a too large refrigerator in the alcove-they measured wrong. It's on my short list of that which must be dealt with by a handyman.
  This in no way means that I don't watch TV or that we don't interact. The rooms are on two different sides of the kitchen (with the TV room having the open counter or breakfast nook area). We watch TV together and separately, and because of the configuration we can even hear each other and talk to each other-and I can hear the TV depending on it's loudness. And in fact, we both have our own little couch corners when we are watching TV together.

Our dog friendly, patio friendly TV watching room. Notice how the dogs each have their own blankets and the floor shows evidence of yard dragged in the house!!

Our favorite spaces are in different places because of our "sweet spots".  My chair, the place I would rather sit than anywhere else, is next to the window in the front room-the room that has the fireplace and the dining room table and two big chairs (for those who remember my dilemma, we finally named it the fireplace room as there aren't enough books in this room to call it a library). For a long time, my chair was a large blue chair and a half. In fact there are more pictures on this blog of my dog sitting in said chair than of anything else. 

A chair so loved, it has followed me three places!
These days my chair is a recliner-smaller, but needed because of leg deterioration. I recently grabbed this at a Sears sale, while I look for a nice leather chair that has the handles to lower the legs. My leg is now so weak that I cannot kick down a regular recliner on my own. More importantly, be it this chair or the leather one for which I am searching, this is my "spot".  And much of the time, it shows, at least during the day.   

A place holder for a nice leather recliner, as soon as I find one I love!
 This chair often has a basket or two sitting on the table next to it. While I have a desk in my sewing room, this is where I generally sit to knit, read, draw, play or work on my tablet, or daydream. Invariably, you are liable to see a basket on my table with notebooks and pens and other necessities of life, a basket on the floor of knitting or pictures, a quilt and a pillow to lean against or lean my tablet or kindle on-at least until I get myself this puppy (Yes, I have discovered that I really can watch shows on my tablet or laptop, as long as it is not something that requires a wide screen). I am not a person who puts everything away every night, so be it in this room, the living room or elsewhere, I have baskets and bins-for art projects, knitting, library books and just general accumulations. 

On the other hand my sister's "chair", is an old, quality lazy boy that she has had for years. She has her chair in this area because of the large windows behind her, because it is an area that she can also spread out in, and because it is at the top of the stairs that lead to her "apartment". This works for us. We watch television together, we watch separately. There are also times when she is sitting in her chair reading or sewing, and I am sitting in my chair. It works for us.

Today, my area looks even more "lived in" than usual. This is because I could no longer avoid the creeping crud, aka the cold from you know where. Everyone else had bronchitis and severe colds-weeks ago. I thought I had missed it but no such luck. So while I am not a NyQuil advertisement, I have a stuffy nose, achy, constant cough, can't get comfortable cold-for which there is no cure.

As a result, I have grabbed a blanket for coverage. Next to me is a large basket of family photos and other things I am working on for immigration and my genealogy, my daily basket (notebooks, chapstick, pens, glasses, lotion and so on), my knitting bag, a table with two drinks and snacks,  and various medicines and the Sunday paper. To say I am settled in would be an understatement! 

I am a firm believer that we all need our own place or space, no matter how small our homes or apartments or trailers may be. Sometimes that space is a corner in a bedroom that has been sacrificed for an office or studio, sometimes it is a chair, sometimes it's a garage corner. We also need our own corner, whether it is his and hers recliners or designated ends of sofas-corners where we can have our own pillows, leave coffee cups as needed and know that reading material or sweaters will be where we left them. Heck, our dogs both have their own blankets, showing their semi-reserved spots on our sofas. And whileO both my husband and I had lots of personal space in Germany, in DC we lived in a small brownstone duplex (Our choice, the price of "urban village" living). We ended up putting hubbies office in a dedicated corner of our bedroom and a small screened in porch was semi insulated so that I could sew and write three quarters of the year. Creativity at it's best.

Fortunately in my current living arrangement,  am blessed to have both personal space and my own little corners-and believe me, on a regular day in my home, you would know which one was mine. What about you, do you have a favorite chair or corner? Do others in your home?  Does your pet have one as well? Are you a put everything away every night type, or are you an "I'll leave the book sitting in my chair until I return" type?  


  1. Your living arrangements sound well suited to the two of you. I am like you, leave things as they are til I return the next day.

  2. Really like the looks of your arrangement. I do have a sweet spot where I curl up in the corner on the end of my sofa with my books, a nice lamp, and table of my favorite things.

  3. I've lived alone for >20 yrs and was able to design and build my own home >16 yrs ago. During a house tour, one of my neighbors commented that the upstairs "playroom" would be a great personal space. I reminded him that the whole house was my personal space. The majority of my living takes place on the 1024sqft main floor. I have a few sweet spots - the chair in front of the SE facing window by the dining area where I can watch the sunrise and the deer go by and "have a meeting with myself" at the start of the day; the end of the couch in front of the wood stove - fires and newborns, you can't take your eyes off them; the front verandah for morning coffee and cool breezes in the summer. I'm currently sharing my space with my 20yr old cousin while she's completing a practicum in the area and I'm conscious of having another energy in my space. I pick up in the common area at the end of the day so that it's ready for her in the morning. When I'm alone, I tend to leave some things lying around until the next time I need it. My bedroom gets tidied each morning in preparation for me to crawl in at the end of the day. My home is my oasis and in the words of Nate Berkus, I want it to "rise up and greet me".

  4. The one thing I noticed with my husband (almost a decade older than me) as he aged and mobility became more of an issues, he started accumulating items he might use throughout the day and kept them within arms reach of the big recliner where he always sat. I began to realize a few years ago I've begun to do the same thing though I'm much more mobile than he was becoming. I am inclined to one small recliner but have had periods when I occupied his since he's been gone. My "gatherings" are all in the area where I also watch TV whereas for earlier years they would have been in another room and this living area would have been more clutter-free.

    Sounds like you have a good setup for "togetherness" and "apartness". There's much to be said for having some space and time for ourselves.

  5. I too have a sweet spot in my house. Mine is a comfy wingback chair in the livingroom next to the front picture window so I have great views of the farmland my house is on. I am a collector of baskets of all sizes. The largest surround my chair and are filled with crocheting, books, crossword puzzles and newspapers. I have a blue blanket (given to me by my daughter in law) that I cuddle with. My family calls it my "Linus" blanket. This is my sweet spot where I can nestle and enjoy my world.

  6. I agree that "we all need our own place or space, no matter how small our homes." Even if we love each other. B and I sit around the corner from each other in our 1BR condo and it works out okay. But I look forward to the day (don't tell B) when we no longer have to share a bathroom!

  7. We all need our own space, I know I get grouchy when Harvey decides to invade my sewing room.

    God bless.


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