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Even at home, find space to call your own

By Elizabeth Bettendorf, Times Correspondent
Published February 22, 2008


The interesting thing about a waffling economy is that it makes people want to stay home.

Over the past few months, I've interviewed dozens of people who told me they didn't just tolerate being at home - they actually loved it.

"Go out?" one man, an ardent gardener, mused recently. "Yes, we like to go out, right here in our yard."

Why wait 45 minutes in a line at a restaurant, he asked, when he and his wife could grill out in their backyard sanctuary filled with native Florida plants and wildlife?

Another couple I talked to said they hated paying $20 for movie tickets and overpriced snack counter fare when they could spend the same amount to buy plants for their beautiful home.

Some people say they'd like to turn their home into a sanctuary, but can't because of kids, roommates or a work-at-home spouse.

For those who live in a busy household, it's possible to make hanging out on the home front even more blissful by carving out a distinctly personal space to call your own:

You can transform a light-filled corner of the living room into a meditation space, create an inviting reading area in the master bedroom, turn your bathtub - no matter how humble - into a meditation getaway that feels like a spa.

First, though, decide what kind of personal space you want to carve out. Do you want a place to listen to music? Work on crafting projects? Do yoga? Write in your journal? Meditate?

Then choose the place in your house to accomplish this. Ideally, a place that isn't in a high-traffic zone is best, even if it's just a corner somewhere off the beaten path. I like privacy screens for the illusion of seclusion.

You can pick them up cheaply at thrift stores or splurge for one that makes more of a statement, like the beautiful screen made of dried vines I saw once while browsing in an upscale tourist shop.

Once you've staked out a place that feels good, you can add decorative items that please the eye and soothe the soul. January's Clean Home Journal newsletter from SC Johnson offers tips on how to give yourself the luxury of a space to call your own, such as:

Make it yours:Add personal touches. Whether it's a small family heirloom or a small tsotchke you picked up at an art fair, well-chosen, meaningful objects clearly signify it's your special space.

Set the mood:Small fountains, candles and aromatherapy can calm the soul.

Be still: By just relaxing and sitting peacefully, you can actually spread tranquility to others in your house.

Spiff it up: Keep your retreat space clean and uncluttered. When you're finished journaling, reading or sketching, tuck your supplies away somewhere attractive, even if it's a pretty basket you've recycled from another room.

Feel a connection to your space: Try to use it as a retreat from the rest of the house and only for its designated purpose. That way, you really will feel like you're basking in your own sanctuary - without ever having to leave home.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at

[Last modified February 21, 2008, 20:45:23]

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