Saturday, February 12, 2022

Look For Me In The Retiring Room

Bringing home this pot of gold was one of my best decisions of the new year. The muscari is flourishing, and throughout the day I see it, smile, and feel brightened, cheered.
TaDa! I don't expect anyone knows what the bathroom looked like before, but this after picture is a big deal. I am not going to share the final color palette, or tile samples, but Mike is painting today. Paint. Today. And this is where we used to have a very large bathtub, and it is gone. It's something we decided to do a few years ago. We figured it could happen in the future, someday, because it was just a large area that was difficult to manage, unused, and for me... a teeny bit scary. The tub was over the part of the bathroom that extends, unsupported, in an overhang at the corner of the house. The few times I would fill the tub and enjoy a bath, when the water got cold, I would debate whether or not to add more water, and then my thoughts would wander... what does water weigh? (8.34lb/gallon) How strong is the framing? What if? Once my brain got to what if, the "relaxing" bath was a total bust. Cleaning the tub was another obstacle, a climb, and descent, and I can't imagine it getting easier in the years ahead. Yeah, yeah, obviously I had a list of justifications for taking the tub out. And when Mike got in there, before he ever heard that I have always been uneasy about the integrity of a large tub sitting on minimally supported flooring, he declared that the whole thing looked highly questionable, was creaky and squeaky, and the builders left heaps of old concrete in there!

Good-bye, big tub!

Okay, but the tub is in great shape and I do like baths, and so we are strongly considering framing it up and having a fabulous outdoor spa, where in the heat of summer, or winter (it's been in the 80s this week,) we can enjoy midnight soaks, cooling dips, a refreshing splash. I wasn't kidding about having harebrained ideas. It's kind of awesome, really.
Last peek! I am looking forward to sharing all of it, the before and the after. It's easy to see that this is going to be a great space, so that I am reluctant to call it "the bathroom." Is "Spa" too pretentious? What did they call these rooms in the Victorian times? Ah, yes... a retiring room! I heard it in Little Women, when Meg and Jo are at a party. Jo is a reluctant guest and hanging back in a quiet, generous sized room, which happens to include accomodations for a chamber pot, and Meg wants her to come back to the party. "You can't spend the whole evening in the retiring room, Jo." I could! I could thoroughly enjoy and appreciate a space where there is room to self-care, to wash away the day, both literally and figuratively. I realize I am recognizing some bias in my beliefs about "bathrooms," like the idea that they are only practical, functional, necessary, and yet almost an afterthought, not a place to hang out. Ideally, I am realizing, a bathroom, restroom, can be comfortable, inviting, that there can be features, or qualities, to it that are respectful of our bodies, our functions, and needs. I've mostly, out of habit, necessity, considered what was essential, and efficient in a bathroom: Go in, do your business, get on with the day. Do not dillydally. I am 55. I am going to dillydally all I can! I wish I'd started sooner, in fact. And I think on my old neighbor, and friend, Jennifer H, who taught me that when designing a space, consider what you would love if you were on a vacation, and include the fun, interesting, different, luxurious or inspiring, even if odd, things that make a getaway special. How about the Healthroom?

From the healthroom, you can see the large garden bed, where I have recently been weeding, planting, watering and giving thanks. And guess what... it's paying off! At long last, after years of failed attempts, and some small success last year, the chamomile has simply volunteered itself! I love chamomile so much, and have written about it so many times it could have it's own blog label.

Bird House Notes: Would anyone like to see a post that is exclusively snapshots of paint chips, tile samples, and faucet choices? I have loads of those! At some point all of this searching and deliberating will pay off! Right? February 10, 2022

When was the last time I talked about the weather? It's noteworthy this week. It's in the 80s. February and 80+ degrees, and ages since it last rained. I know... it's more comfortable than the sub-zero temps, but without some rain around here, and more snow in our mountains, the months ahead, fire season, will be something dreadful. I don't want to think about this. February 10, 2022


Janece said...

OMGee, Natalie -- your retiring room-to-be is unbelievable! You are going to thank yourselves over and over for creating that space!! (And the outdoor spa idea is inspired!)

I cannot wait to see how it all comes together! Your home projects always fill me with inspiration (and a bit of I wish... maybe someday we will be able to own a home again...) But, for now, I get that absolute joy of living vicariously through you and the BirdHouse!

Little Dorrit does... said...

Very excited to see the finished healthroom overlooking the chamomile bed. The hints and glimpses of colours and tiles have all been very tantalising.

The big tub really was a BIG tub - I can totally understand why it was hard to relax in it when it was positioned above the unsupported overhang - but the harebrained outdoor spa plan is not harebrained at all - it's pure genius! The big tub was surely made for al fresco soaking, and you can use the water to irrigate the garden afterwards!

Jennifer's advice is very good. When we had our little windowless downstairs shower-room done after 20 years of utilitarian blandness I went with black slate and irridescent mosaic tiles with an alcove shelf full of fake ferns because I had a vision of it being some kind of cave-like grotto! Certainly not to many/most people's taste, but I feel happy every time I have a shower, so why not?!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I wish for you, too, Janece. I should add: I have taken inspiration from the choices you made when you were choosing materials and colors for your place. I remember admiring all of the elements you were bringing together, and thinking how beautiful it was becoming. You have such a good eye for these things, and I can't wait for you to be able to apply your artistry to your own space.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

You know it! That feeling of being happy every time you step into a space is the best sign of design success! The idea of a cave-like grotto is giving me tropical island getaway vibes!
Since we live with drought, I have one more reason to feel relieved about that jumbo tub being out, and not sending gallons and gallons of water down the drain. If/when we install it, I will definitely be thinking of it draining into the garden. Thank you, and Janece, for sharing in my excitement over the progress that is being made.

Ruth said...

Exiting stuff is going on at the Birdhouse. A retiring room looking down upon a chamomile garden....sweet surprise. How romantic! I'm struck how the chamomile looks almost succulent-like. It's very pretty.

I had to say good-bye to my Norfolk pine trees. They had undergone a huge growth spurt recently. The roots were very invasive, the neighbor complained, and I was worried about them falling over. Makes me sad, they were my little bit of Hawaii. Good news is I already have an orchid tree planted there, so I'm looking forward to seeing flowers on that someday soon.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Succulents... yes, I see it, too. The leaves look really plump. They're tiny in real life, but this super close-up is accentuating their roundness.
I am so sorry about your Norfolk pine. Those trees are sentimental to me, too, and will always be a symbol of Hawaii days, especially your home.

Sarah said...

Wow, that bathroom is HUGE! I would probably live in that room if I had one like it. I love the colors you are sampling, and I'm happy you're not going with the boring grey that is everywhere these days.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Sarah, it is huge. More so with the tub out, which was also huge! And fortunately, the layout lends itself to be a useful, appealing space... with easily the best view of any part of the house. I am pinching myself. I think in an old house, it is the size a very small bedroom, and I would totally claim it for my own, too.
There is so much grey in decorating these days! Even when it looks good, I can't help but think that it's ridiculously common. On Pinterest I have a board where I collect Carl Larsson aesthetic, his art, and home, and styles like it. I wasn't trying to design something inspired by those, but I think I am so attracted to the colors, to Swedish farm charm, that I managed to conjure the vibe, somewhat. For sure I am tempted to try my hand at painting vining flowers on the walls!