This morning I was following a rabbit warren of blog links (do you ever do that? You start on a post from a blog you read regularly, and then click through to another blog, and then that links to another post, and somehow you end up adding five new blogs to your reader?) and ended up on this post about sleeping in the living room. It opens with a great quote from a home improvement book: “Do you want to sleep in your living room or live in your bedroom?”.
I hadn’t ever thought of it this way before, but that question really identifies the difference between the various places I’ve lived in the lifespan of this blog. Excepting the months I spent back at my mum’s house while I was ill, and the times in Paris and Fort Wayne, I have lived in one room for the last five years. Not always the same one room, of course, but each time my living space was entirely contained within the walls of that single room.
My first room at university was large, with a wonderful view over the college gardens. The bed was tucked under the window so it didn’t dominate the room, and I revelled in having an expanse of floor. I’d never had such a large room before, and I loved having different zones – the bed, the desk, the wardrobe, they all occupied their own section of the room.
At the end of my first year I was able to choose a room for the next year, according to a ballot system. I did have the option of staying in that large room, and I seriously considered it but there were two downsides: it was a long way from the building’s entrance, where I had to go to collect my post, get a spare key when I locked myself out, and from where I walked home at 2am with my heavy kit bag after ice hockey practice. Ironically, I never locked myself out or played ice hockey after first year, but I didn’t know that at the time. The other downside was that it didn’t have a sink, so I was constantly going to the shared bathroom or kitchen to clean my teeth and get a drink.
So I decided to move. I knew I wanted to be in a particular part of the college, so I took the very last room remaining on the top floor of that section without even having seen it. When I went up to look at the room I’d bagged sight unseen, I was pleased. It was maybe half the size of the first room, but it was quirkily shaped with a big window seat and the bed once again could tuck into the corner and not dominate the room.
I only lived in that room for six weeks, before I had to leave university to recuperate from the acute onset of my M.E. It was a shame to leave it, and I was even more disappointed to find that I couldn’t reclaim it the following year, but I did get a room in the same section. I wish I had some decent photos of these rooms; at the time I didn’t consider that I might want to remember what they looked like. I was too busy living in them!
The third bedroom was about the same size as the second but the bed stuck straight out into the room and took up a huge proportion of the space. For the first time I really felt that I was living in my bedroom, rather than sleeping in my living room, and the same was true in my final college room. The layout of the rooms simply didn’t allow for any configuration of the furniture that didn’t involve the bed jutting out to take up most of the floor. Neither of them seemed like places to invite people over to, although of course friends did come round and perch on the bed to have a cup of tea.
I’ve posted this embarrassingly messy photo before, and it doesn’t say a lot for my housekeeping (I had only just moved in) but it does show how the double bed occupied almost the entire flat in my previous home. I have no idea why the landlord decided to put a double bed in a room that small, especially since the contract stipulated I had to live alone. I was still very much living in my bedroom, and it was even worse now because there was absolutely no space for chairs anywhere. The only place to sit, to work, eat, hang out with friends or read, was on the bed.
After that extremely long tour of my living spaces of yore we’ve now arrived at the current flat, and I finally put my finger on exactly why it is so much nicer than the old one. I’m sleeping in my living room again. Yes, the flat is larger, which makes that a lot easier, but the fact that the bed is tucked away into an alcove and doubles up at daytime furniture means that I finally feel like I’m living in a real home rather than permanently occupying a second-rate hotel room.
Some day, I will live in a home with more than one room. The bedroom will be just that: the room with my bed in, where I go to sleep. The rest of my living will be done in other rooms, and I am really looking forward to that. But for now, I really enjoy the taster of that experience that I get from my nicely-zoned studio. I don’t just sleep here, I live here, and the space reflects that.