Lately, I’ve been feeling less-than-fulfilled in the bedroom.
But it has nothing to do with my love life. Nope, it’s the bedroom itself that’s been letting me down.
See, it’s not the kind of master suite you see on the home-renovation shows or on Pinterest, pinned to boards with names like “dream home.”
You know, the sort with a huge walk-in closet and a spa-like bathroom attached. The sort of bedroom that brings to mind words like “retreat” and “serene” and “I want to go to there.”
Our bedroom feels more like an afterthought. Actually, it sort of is. Living in a big old fixer-upper with five kids, we wound up with the smallest bedroom mainly because we didn’t want the boys sleeping alone on the first floor (I was a teenager once, and the thought of my adolescents sleeping 10 feet from the back door just seems like a bad idea…) and figured they need more space to spread out upstairs than we do.
Plus, this bedroom has a bathroom attached, such as it is (essentially a cramped, closet-sized room with a tiny shower, the sort that would make a couple on House Hunters throw up their hands and say something like, “We can’t even BOTH FIT IN HERE! How are we supposed to GET READY AT THE SAME TIME?! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU SHOWED US THIS PIECE OF CRAP HOUSE!”)
As it turns out, my husband and I have never, not even once, tried to get ready at the same time in that bathroom (I mean, there is also a mirror in the bedroom, and another bathroom not that far away…) but that doesn’t mean I’m always madly in love with our small, awkward bedroom, for a variety of reasons:
- The only wall that really works to house the bed is up against the windows, which are old and drafty and covered with peeling paint.
- It opens up to the dining room, which is the main “hangout” area right in the middle of our first floor. (In other words, forget about privacy.)
- There’s barely room for a bed and dresser.
- The bathroom is just really bad. I won’t use the shower (it’s so small I keep bumping into the walls) and the old vinyl floors are covered with some sticky and dingy substance that seems permanently ground in. Plus, a few months ago the medicine chest FELL on me (while I was just standing there brushing my teeth!) and we’ve yet to replace it, so there’s currently not even a mirror.
However, love it or not, this is going to be my bedroom for now and the foreseeable future. And while I’ve been sitting here trying to avoid my problems in the bedroom by getting lost in house porn and other forms of escapism, I’ve realized there a few things I’ve been doing that are NOT helping me embrace my home the way it is:
- Scouring listings of local real estate and getting lost in “master suite” photos. This is the most dangerous form of house porn, I believe, because it seems like something I almost could really have. You know, if I had $100,000 more to spend and was willing and able to move. Which I don’t, and I’m not. Except, that bedroom…
- Watching shows with names like “I Despise My Bedroom!” Real estate shows don’t throw me into the downward home-loathing spiral too much, because they’re either so fantastical that they don’t seem real (like the multi-million dollar apartments in Selling New York), or they feature excited, optimistic home buyers who can’t wait to get into their new place and make it their own. But some of those home reno shows – the ones where they point out and fix all the terrible, unlivable things in somebody’s house, and then I realize that half of those things are also true about MY house – just fill me with an unpleasant combination of envy and discontent.
- Wasting too much time thinking about all the things I dislike about my bedroom. Duh, right? I’ve learned I can expend a lot of energy and spend quite a bit of time looking at dream bedrooms and griping about my own. What if I put some of that energy and time into changing the things I can?
Okay, so now that I’ve identified what doesn’t work, it’s time for me to take a look around and see what I can do to make my bedroom life more satisfying. So without taking a moment to clean up or “stage” or anything, I just grabbed my iPhone and took a shot of the view from my bed, where I’m working right now:
- Those bags of clothes stuffed beside the dresser? The ones I’ve been meaning to take to Goodwill for, oh, months? They need to go.
- And while I’m on the topic of that dresser, what’s with the top of it? It looks like a yard sale up there. Do I even use all those products? And is that a sweater wadded up with a bra on top? What’s that doing up there? Time to streamline and organize.
- A fan. Why is there a fan sitting there? It’s not fan weather! Take to basement.
- Streamline clothing in drawers so things don’t poke out.
- We need more light in here!
That’s just one little nook of our bedroom, but as you can see, I have a lot of improving to do – simple stuff, like cleaning and rearranging – before I can really complain that it’s unlivable. And just to prove that, while sitting here trying to change my attitude, I’ve also managed to identify three things I like about my bedroom:
- Its sometimes-awkward placement right off the main traffic area of the house has benefits, too. The door is only six steps from the kitchen, meaning I’m not far from my teapot first thing in the morning. And the fact that anyone who walks through our house might catch a peek of my bedroom inspires me to be much more on-the-ball about making the bed.
- Our first-floor location gives us space from the boys while making us conveniently close to our three-year-old daughter, who also has a bedroom on the first floor. That’s helped us avoid late-night puddles, because we’re able to react quickly when she comes wandering out of her room somehow unable to find the bathroom.
- There’s a bathroom. It may not be fancy or even particularly functional, but it’s a sink and toilet the kids don’t use. Priceless.
So, I’ve made up my mind: instead of dreaming about how much better a master bedroom we might find in, well, pretty much any other house, I’m focusing on the positive and also making a plan to change some simple things that will make a big difference.
Because while my bedroom might not ever make the cover of a home decorating magazine, I do a lot of living in this room, and I want to love being in it. And part of loving it is accepting its imperfections – and making the most of them.
And also because, in a world where having a bathroom inside my house is an enormous luxury in itself, I don’t ever want to catch myself griping about our lack of double sinks.