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January 23, 2023

GGGL: Create Your Own Retreat

By Writer Gypsy

Have you ever longed for a place to call you own. A place where you can get away from the stresses of daily life? Somewhere cosy, quiet and all yours? As the mother of two, I have longed for such a retreat for years. Now I have one.

Did I win the lottery? Inherit a nice chunk of change? Get a book deal? I wish. No, I applied a little bit of creativity and frugality and created an oasis in my own home. For less than $50.00.

My retreat is a corner of my bedroom sectioned off from the rest of the house. In it are a comfy chair, a small table with a lamp and a radio. I have a small fountain there, as well as my favorite candles. My hidey hole has no door, so no one can disturb me while I am there, yet it is closed off from the rest of the house. Sounds like some sort of puzzle, doesn't it? It's not. And if such an oasis appeals to you, you can have the same.

The only condition I will put on you doing this is that you have to apply your own special personal style to your oasis, make it welcoming, peaceful and comforting. Those adjectives bring to mind different things in the minds of different people. I, for one, go for the clean lines and serene surroundings of a Zen monastery. However, you might prefer a space filled with special items that inspire you. Or you may want to sit on the floor or a divan, rather than in a chair.

Before you purchase anything for your oasis, be sure you know what will make for your ideal getaway. Your special place should be just that, special, and it should be a place you want to go to, love to be in and miss when you are away. So, do you know what would make the perfect retreat environment for you? Good. Let's get started.

The first thing you have to do is find a space for this oasis. Mine is in the back corner of my bedroom. The space is approximately four feet by four feet. Just enough room for one person and her favorite book. Do you want a larger space? Smaller? You have to decide what works for you. Once you know how large a space you want, figure out where it can be located in your house. I had to rearrange my bedroom in order to create the empty corner I needed to build my oasis. You may have to do something similar.

Once you have located your desired space and rearranged to accomodate it, you have to section it off from the rest of the world. This may be your first expense. I wanted to get an oriental folding screen for my "wall". However, the cheapest one I could find was $50.00. Too much for my budget. Instead of giving up, I gave some thought to other options, short of building permanent walls. I considered hanging curtains or sheets from the ceiling, which could be pulled aside when I wasn't in my retreat, but it just wasn't the feel I wanted. Though I would have been able to create my "walls" without spending money by using sheets, I prefer clean lines. The question was how to get them.

After some thought, I visited a local home improvement store. I scoured the aisles there in search of my "walls". And I found them. Faux bamboo shades in the same green as our bedroom walls. I could easily suspend these from the ceiling and pull them up when my space was not in use. These shades come in a variety of colors and sizes. I opted for the four foot wide, six foot long shades. This would effectively block distractions, and give me plenty of room to relax. I purchased two such shades and hung them from my ceiling at a right angle, forming my perfect little square. And plenty of clean lines. Another advantage of these shades is that they take up no floor space.

Once my shades were hung and their practicality tested, it was time to accessorize my space. First on my list was a comfy chair. I don't care about appearance. The most comfy chair I've ever owned was ugly, gold toned and leaking stuffing in many places. Unfortunately, that chair is no longer with us, so I had to find one to take its place. This took a couple of weeks. But I finally found a blue overstuffed chair with flower print. It belonged to a friend of mine who didn't want it anymore and works perfectly in my space. It's great for cuddling up in with a blanket, a cup of hot cocoa and a good book or with my writing tools and a killer idea.

What I needed next was lighting. This was easy. A trip to my local Goodwill store produced the perfect little table lamp for $5.00. Thrift shops are the darling of the budget minded decorator. Now I needed something to put my lamp on. And my cup of cocoa. At a local hobby shop, I found small wooden crates being sold as DVD storage units for $3.00 a piece. I bought two, placed them on top of one another, secured them with wood glue and nails. Viola. Instant end table and bookshelf in one.

So, let's look at what my retreat has cost me. The shades cost $15.00 for two. The lamp was $5.00. The end table cost $6.00. The chair was free, since the friend was getting rid of it anyway. Many other decorative pieces were items I already had, such as the candles and the fountain. My total out of pocket expense was $26.00.

Now, I can go into my bedroom, pull down my bamboo shades, curl up in my chair and relax. This space is mine and mine only. My daughter knows that to violate this space is punishable by death or loss of phone privileges for a month (a fate worse than death for a 13 year old).

In this space, I can hang pictures on the wall, surround myself with pillows or stuffed animals, keep it spare and serene. Whatever. It's mine. My piece of peace in the chaos of a home with kids, dogs, husband and housework. And the best part is that it was cheap enough that I can afford to buy a good book to read there.

Article © Writer Gypsy. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-10-02
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