Thank Heaven for Little Girls

I love sharing pictures of my new house with you and I hope you like seeing how far we’ve come since September.  The reason these postings are few and far between is that the rooms have to be clean before I photograph them (got to keep it Pinterest safe!).
Today’s feature is Lorelei’s room.  Her room makes me really happy because it is a blend of a few salvaged things from our old life and new things that were given with so much love.
I also love it because she’s seven and it’s about time she had a nice room to call her own.  When she was born we still lived in our big Victorian house.  There were four generous bedrooms and one small one–so guess who didn’t have a room of her own?  Not that she cared–she slept in bed with Mommy and Daddy, we kept her clothes in a dresser in William’s room, and her toys were in a basket in the den.  We were excited when we moved to the next house–there was a small room just right for Lorelei.  There were problems, though.  No closet–except for the utility one with the leaky, noisy AC equipment.  Her room was part of what had originally been a mother-in-law apartment, which meant she had to go through Teddy’s room to get to hers–and Teddy did not always want her barging in.  Finally, it was a long way to Mommy in the middle of the night!  Inevitably, she ended up sleeping with us again.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Her room suffered only water and smoke damage, so we saved a few things, some of them quite precious, as you will see in the pictures.
This picture (one of a pair) hung on the wall of my Uncle Walter’s nursery, just about 100 years ago.   My grandmother unearthed them when my little sister was a baby, and they hung in her room throughout her childhood.  When we moved to the Victorian house, we put them in William’s room (he was the baby then).  I don’t even remember why, but they were not hanging up at the time of them fire, but were in a sheltered spot in the basement where they suffered very little damage.  My middle sister had them reframed behind special glass to preserve these treasures and now I have them back–the only family heirloom I have left.

Detail from the picture above

Here’s another picture that made it.  Actually all the pictures on Lorelei’s walls were saved, but most have now been relocated to other ares in the house–including a couple now in the room of their original owner, big sister Emily.
One of the very first people to respond with concrete assistance after the fire was Laura, a friend from law school days whose generosity I wrote of in an earlier post.   Her little girl is growing up and was ready to part with her four poster bed and matching mirror, and her Disney Princess lamp.  And Laura loaded all this up in a U-Haul trailer and drove to and from Nashville (that’s six hours round trip, folks) less than a week after the fire.  Did I mention that we had not even seen her in over ten years?  I hope it won’t be that long until we see her and her family again.

A bed needs a mattress and sheets and pillows and such, of course, and those were provided by friends from church.  They had them ready long before we had a house to set them up in.  Aren’t they pretty?  And other people provided spares, both old and new.
We used an end table (and where it came from I couldn’t say) but we still needed a dresser.  Enter more Good Samaritans!  If you live in Knoxville you’ll have heard of The Brown Squirrel furniture store.  I’ve been hearing the commercials my whole life!  And its owners have kids at KCHS.  Mrs. Matthews came by the house with a notebook and a measuring tape, asking what we still needed.  Within a couple of days, we had a dresser and a rocking chair.

Note the afghan, another treasure salvaged from Lorelei’s room. It’s the one Mima made for Teddy’s crib.

One last piece of furniture rounds out the room–the fanciful bookshelf below, which was a gift to Emily on her–I think–seventh birthday.  I did the best I could, but it’s still a little sooty.  Like so much of the furniture we once had, it came from Myrtle’s Mess.

Oh, and did I mention the closet?  No one likes to think of a little girl having all her pretty clothes burn up.  When it came to donated clothes, Lorelei won the jackpot.  I had friends I’ve never even met in real life mailing her boxes of beautiful things.  So thank goodness that her new room also has a walk-in closet!

Here is Lorelei on her very first night in a new bed in a new room in a new house:

Just don’t ask me where she sleeps now.
 

Sanctuary

When I was eleven my family moved to a new house. It was a split level, and I had the basement bedroom. I had a three yellow walls, one wall with yellow roses, and wall-to-wall spring green carpet under my French Provincial 1970s bedroom suite, complete with canopy bed (covered with one of Mima’s afghans, of course–yellow and green!). I wish I had a picture to show you. I guess it was a little loud, but it looked like springtime, and I loved it.
As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in the privacy of that room.  I used to love to sit on my floor, listening to my record albums (usually my soundtrack to the animated version of The Lord of the Rings), drawing with my colored pencils in my special sketchbook.  I studied there, in front of my wall heater. I wrote a book there, reading chapters aloud to my sister as I finished them.  I talked on the phone for hours there (by pulling the long cord of the downstairs extension into the room!).  I entertained my friends there.  I cried there.   I loved being able to go downstairs and lock myself in, away from everyone.  It was a sanctuary.
For four years in college, I shared a bedroom.  Then I got married, and quickly was sharing my bedroom not only with my husband, but with a succession of babies and small children and an abundance of clutter.  First we had a creaky old bed; later we switched to box spring and mattess right on the floor to keep rolling babies safer.  When we moved into our Victorian house, I had high hopes for the bedroom-as-sanctuary:  it was a large room, with a fireplace and a door which once led to a balcony.  We even had a loveseat, but it quickly became a magnet for clothes waiting (and waiting, and waiting . . . )to be hung up, and the rest of the room quickly filled with the clutter that was overtaking the whole house.
The bedroom in what the little ones have christened “the burned down house” was kind of an anti-sanctuary.  We could not even get our boxspring up the stairs of this 1960 split level, so we had our mattress right on the floor.  It was stiflingly hot from May through September, and there were no screens on the windows, so that we learned to live with pollen everywhere and an abundance of flying and crawling friends.  We usually had two cats in bed with us, not to mention Lorelei AND William.  There always seemed to be either dirt (courtesy of the aforementioned bedmates) or crumbs (thanks, to John, who WOULD NOT STOP eating crunchy snacks in bed) amongst the sheets.  And this room was smaller than the last, and the clutter just as bad.  I hated going in there, frankly.
But now.  Oh my.
Can I just say that going up to my room at night is just about my favorite part of the day?  And not just because I love to sleep.  No, it is that sense of sanctuary that was pretty much completely missing from ANY room of the last place we lived. (And is it any wonder, in retrospect, that I never felt quite safe or at home there?)

The room is enormous.  And there’s no clutter because we don’t own any.
There’s a huge bathroom with two sinks and a spa tub.

Lorelei enjoys the spa tub

It has a walk-in closet.  You’d laugh if you saw a picture of that.  John, who was given all my Uncle Charlie’s clothes, and received shirts and ties from many other sources as well, NEEDS the closet (for that matter, as an attorney, he needs the clothes).  My side, on the other hand, is sparsely populated at the moment!
I love the furniture in the room, donated by a friend of my father and step-mother.  And there is no accumulation of knick-knacks to detract from it (the collection of . . . shall we say, CRAP, that used to sit on John’s bureau had been annoying me for years.).
And the bed.  Oh, the bed.

The bedspread is EXACTLY like one I inherited from Mima that was lost in the fire.  I never got to use it because it was too long with the bed always being on the floor.  The sheets are Ralph Lauren with a ridiculously high thread count.  Getting into this bed every night with my book and my book light and my reading glasses is truly one of my greatest pleasures in life.


By now it probably goes without saying that every single thing in this room–the pictures, the linens, the books, the furniture, the pillows–even the nightgown I sleep in each night–came from the love and generosity of friends, family, even strangers.  That makes the room feel like even more of a blessing.  I feel safe and loved here.
What about you?  Is your bedroom a sanctuary?  Do you have another place that is–or has been–a sanctuary for you?