My Sanctuary

*written at home on my backyard deck in lovely New Orleans, Louisiana on a sweltering summer morning

My backyard office
My backyard office

Never before have I so fully come to realize the importance of loving home, my house, my sanctuary. I used to think owning a house would feel suffocating, that I’d be beholden to a structure that would keep me in one place, the cancer to my wanderlust. Never mind the fact that I did live in one place for over 7 years that I loved, but that was in Brooklyn and the hope of owning a home there would have been a pipe dream for someone of my financial status at that time. Until buying my house in NOLA 2 years ago, I’d been a perpetual renter. I had also moved 6 times in three years, two of those moves were halfway across the country.

It’s my two-year anniversary of my taking on a regional management position with Yelp, meaning 2 years of frequent traveling. That’s great for me, I’ve loved just about every minute of it (minus the missed connecting flights and long layovers in airports without any decent vegan snacks). And this realization about home being so important has come late, but as much self-insight I believe myself to possess, it’s often the no-brainers that elude me.

Last weekend, I was purchasing another piece of reclaimed wood furniture to add to my collection (I’m obsessed!), and started thinking about how much joy this material object was giving me and it all hit me. I never thought I’d say this, but I really love being a homemaker, in addition to concentrating on my career. By homemaker, I don’t mean mom or wife, as I am neither of these. I fully admit to not being the most conventional of women, yet I find myself drooling over home porn and vegan recipes that might take me a couple hours to make that take less than an hour to make. I’m also not a crafty gal by any means – I wish. It would save me lots of money. Instead of splurging on a bag or pair of shoes, I’m plunking my card down for velvet black-out drapes. I never thought I’d be this way.

Much of it relates to the fact that I’m away so often. Ultimately, when I get off a plane, I need to feel like being home is a cherished thing. It can be intoxicating to stay in a posh hotel, where everything is sparkling clean, the beds are plush and the gym is right at my disposal. It’s taken a while for me to actually feel like home is a sanctuary without looking around and wishing that I could change this or that (truthfully, that feeling may diminish a bit, but it never goes away, does it?) See, when I first acquired my house, it had a lot of work to be completed on it and like most people, I didn’t have the funds or time to get it all completed at once.

(the previous owner named it this due to the sun painted in the peaks of the upstairs dormer windows)
House of the Rising Sun (the previous owner named it this due to the sun painted in the peaks of the upstairs dormer windows)

Industrial, cheap carpet had to be removed, and one, sometimes two layers of cheap linoleum tiles had to be lifted. Wood paneling (horrors!) had to be removed to reveal actual wood walls. Plank floor boards had to be sanded back to their former glory (and in the case of upstairs, entirely replaced thanks to someone in their infinite wisdom glueing crappy tile down on top of them). Walls had to be knocked out to make upstairs one giant bedroom. Generations of previous homeowners had taken a lot of the charm out of this 110+ year old Creole cottage and it was an intimidating task to (almost) restore it. It’s been two full years of work. Danny, my boyfriend, did most of the fixing and it’s pretty damn amazing. As I’m not so handy, I did some of the painting, including those gold ceilings but being that I’d be away up to three or four times a month, I’d have to fit in the work, not to mention the constant cleaning (uncovered 100-year old floors procure tons of dirt).

But, the bathroom. Oh, the hellhole that was my bathroom until just recently. It made me prone to fits of despair, not exaggerating. I think a lot of us gals understand and value a good bathroom. I, however, may be obsessed with bathrooms. This began when I was a child and I’d have to investigate the loo in any public place. It was this burning need, I tell you. My favorite bathrooms were the most garish, those dripping in gold fixtures and faucets and perhaps even a chandelier. I adored ante chambers outfitted with mirrors and velvet cushioned couches. The Dolly Parton of powder rooms.

You can imagine my dilemma when confronted with a bathroom this disgusting, yet not having the appropriate funds just yet to change anything. To give you an idea of what horrors were lurking, when Danny was gutting it, he realized that the wood was so rotted that the tub was close to falling through the floor to the ground outside. I couldn’t even bear to look at the 3-inch space between the tub and the sink. It was just narrow enough to be impossible to clean thoroughly and there were years of accumulated filth & mold that we’d pour bleach over to no avail. It also had spaces that allowed our famous Louisiana giant palmetto bugs entry and I don’t think I need to tell anyone how these things make me want to commit suicide. Just seeing a dead one in the morning (thank god for boric acid) was enough to make me want to move immediately. But I owned the damn thing.

I’m glad I hung in there, though and in due time, I was able to have the bathroom of my dreams (if those dreams allowed for a teeny tiny bathroom that could just about fit a 5-ft claw foot tub, toilet and pedestal sink). It only took 20 or so months to get here. Anyone who is on a budget and owns a home that requires a plethora of repairs can understand, right?

Just a partial view, but you get the idea…

I’m on my way to having a killer home porn addiction, friends. I first started with Pinterest 2 years ago after acquiring my house. Facebook got my cookies and I’d get constant reminders about Joss & Main, Dot & BO, Joybird, etc. offering up the accoutrements that I am obsessed with (and if you are curious about these obsessions, check out my home decor board!) I’ve barely gotten started on Houzz. I can probably lose hours on these sites and I have to force myself to stay away because I’m on a self-enforced strict budget. And I like to shop local, so there’s that little bit of restraint I do possess.

When I started this blog a couple months ago, my intention was to only write from airports, planes, trains and other places of transit. I think I write differently when I’m home. Instead of fevered, practically frenetic musings, I find myself writing from a place of calm. It must be that I’m sort of happy in this place…

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