Inspiration and throwback

I’ve been thinking a lot about design, art, home, personality, space, individuality, color, and intention lately. While I didn’t always jive with their art styles or their egotism, the Bloomsbury Group had something going on that really intrigues me. They were living and creating in a time when “design” wasn’t such a commercial idea, when Apartment Therapy-style blogs didn’t keep their fingers on the wild pulse of the most current fashions and the trends that would set homes apart from all of the other store-bought decors that were also setting themselves apart. These writers and artists were simply inspired by their own work and by each other, and surrounded themselves, however cultishly, with things they had created. Charleston Farmhouse, the house in East Sussex where Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and at times Clive Bell and Maynard Keynes, lived and worked. Vanessa Bell wrote, about the Charleston Farmhouse, “It will be an odd life, but… it ought to be a good one for painting.”

Bloomsbury
A window in Clive Bell’s studio with hand-painted paneling

I wrestle with my feelings on their egos and lifestyles, since I am a working person and I generally do not celebrate the sort of glamorization of the wealthy that they so clearly enjoyed. I have no staff, nor am I a celebrity. However, a life that is “odd” but “good for painting,” or good for knitting, or good for gardening, or good for -well, anything I want, really- sounds divine. Leisure time is bought by not having to work, whether that comes from inheriting a fortune or from working as hard as you can so you can take time off or from making as much as possible yourself and living frugally.

The question of time and freedom is one that I ponder daily as I get ready for work and have to pack up my knitting for the day, then wait until I can have that 30-minute burst of what feels like personal productivity in the middle of that day of corporate productivity.

Then, related but not exactly the same, there’s the question of creativity and freedom. Why must I experiment with minimalism, or have matching dishes, or replace our furniture when it is scratched or no longer fashionable? I don’t wanna. I want our things and our space to reflect who we are, show where we’ve been, and to house whatever interesting project we’re getting into that week, however short-lived it may be. I want to surround myself with things I’ve made, because it’s fun and it makes me happy. I can’t say that I really love the artistic styles of the early 20th century, but I love aspects of the spirit behind it- put your personality all over the space you inhabit.

It all circles back to wanting a simpler life. I like my job very much, but wouldn’t it be better if I could edit at home, with a never-ending cup of coffee and a cat in my lap (if she could possibly sit still for more than twelve seconds)? I like my house alright, but wouldn’t it be better if we owned a place and had the power to fix things like sloppy paint jobs and missing A/C vent covers without saving receipts or scheduling when the landlord will come and take care of them? Wouldn’t it be much better if that place were big enough only for the essentials, and silly things like moving the extra chair between the office, dining room, and living room weren’t even part of my thought process?

The “tiny house movement” is such a hot topic these days, and I am currently just another 20-something who wishes it could happen but has a list of reasons why it can’t yet. I drool over cabinporn.com and trawl Pinterest and youtube for “tiny house tours” and pictures of how people organize their tiny spaces. Wes’ job lasts another 3.5 years, and then we’ll be able to move wherever we want, but it may be in the works to downsize significantly even before we get to that point.

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