In the wake of the loft reveal, I thought I’d write a bit today about the inspiration behind our loft, and how it came to be.
I suppose it goes all the way back to my childhood, really. I grew up in a small valley surrounded by mountains in northwest Montana. I come from a stout stock of people who were take-what-you-have-and-make-do types. We lived simply, with used furniture in quirky, mostly old houses (except for the four years that we lived in the Big House – the house that kind of blew all our minds).
There was no such thing in our world as interior design. In fact, I didn’t even know such a thing existed until I was in my late teens, and even then, I didn’t realize it could be a career choice.
There was no such thing as actually ordering bedding, curtains, or bath ensembles (those coordinating bath ensembles that I thought were so amazing!) from the Sears catalog. The catalogs in our house were just for looking at.
In our world, you used an old sheet with a coordinating floral pattern, and you made curtains from it. Or, you scrounged the bag of hand-me-downs and re-structured (albeit in a very novice way – oh, some of the pieces I tailored!) garments to fit better.
I learned that I had to make what I wanted with what I had or what I could find. I learned that my creativity was the key to bringing into reality something that had started as a vision in my mind. I learned to persevere and not give up. I poured over images of beautiful things and beautiful spaces, not in a jealous sort way, but as one who was ready to be taught and inspired. In the process, I found that it costs nothing to appreciate good design.
So, here we were, a couple years ago, with a wonderful little cabin in the works. One that was large enough to hold us, and small enough to challenge me. I would have to draw on all that I’d learned along the way to make it work.
One of the most important things to me was listening to the needs and wishes of everyone who’d be living here, and then taking those needs and wishes, and balancing them against reality. A wish that came up from our oldest boy was that he wanted his own room (we’d been watching season one of the Waltons & John Boy had his own room). Even though the sheer (lack of) size in this little house would clearly prevent that from happening, I took his desire seriously and told him I’d see what I could do.
Use what you have.
Think outside the box.
See what happens.
I began to draw inspiration for this new vision of how I could give each boy his own private space inside a single room. I thought of boat design (those boat designers know a thing or two), of train design (berths!), of pioneer cabins (trundle beds), of military barracks (non-standard bed sizes) – anything that successfully condensed a lot into a little.
I began to troll the internet for images that spoke what I was thinking. More lines were filled in. More details were drawn into the picture that was forming for our loft space. Like tumblers clicking into place in a combination lock, the details came together, and the finished plan was born. Out of what we had, a wish was granted.
Following is a blog post I wrote in March of 2012, back when the loft plan was beginning to take shape, showing some of the images that I’d found that helped write the story of our loft. I thought you’d like to see…
There's a book that’s been much looked at and loved here, lately: How to Make Play Places & Secret Hidy Holes. Yes, imaginations have roused to life with all the cubbies, shelters, tents and cocoons one can make with cloth, cardboard and wood.
It must be the same interest in the sheltering feeling of small spaces that caused me to have Small Home Designs and Inside the Not-So-Big House lying on the floor next to my bed right now. Treasures. Including this, found on the fly-leaf of Small Home Designs, hand written by a knowing soul:
"Dedicated to those who don't want to build mansions."
And, seeing that the words are written in a classic grandma-perfect hand, most surely by one who had known the beauty of small in her life, I find myself agreeing most wholeheartedly, seeing how she obviously knows.
While thinking along these lines, I noticed that there is small, then there is the small within the small. Like the bed nook. Not a room, but a carved-out portion for the bed, linens, pillows, books, art, lamps, sleeping. So much with so little.
Keep looking and you'll see what I mean...
Are you nodding your head, too?