At the end of the work day, after the last voices fade, drifting down the hallway towards the elevator, the phone calls redirected to voicemail and the outer office’s lights turned off, I work alone for a bit, taking advantage of the chance to work without interruptions. Then I gather my things, re-arranging the work on my desk to prepare me for tackling whatever tomorrow may bring. I lock up, and then I am homeward bound. Home. It beckons to me like a lighthouse beacon summons a storm-tossed sailor adrift on high seas. I hear the thrumming of home and my mind shifts… Let it go. Let it all go. In the half-hour it takes me to cross over the wide water from workplace to home, I do my best to leave the shores of my worklife behind, to disembark safely on the island of my homelife.
Aaahhh… The sweet release when I walk through my own front door. The instant calm of the hushed space of home. There truly is no place like it. You close the door behind you and that other world falls away. Off with the coat and shoes. Drop your keys and phone on the table, put down your bags, feel yourself getting lighter, unburdening yourself of the weight that you have stalwartly carried throughout the day, your stooped shoulders gradually returning to their normal posture.
Home is my refuge, where I claim a space of peace and calm, a reprieve from the noisy demanding clamor of the public and its machinery. For awhile, I can disconnect from the outside world, holding at bay the intrusions of other people’s problems and conflicts, their questions and requests for assistance. No hostility or self-indulgent drama allowed. After awhile, my eyes start to re-focus and see the day-to-day happenings in my home life around which my own personal relationships revolve. And whether the day’s events fill me with delight, astonishment, frustration, or anger, one thing remains constant: home is the arena, the theatre, where my private world unfolds, where I live out my most meaningful personal experiences. And my mind shifts again… Hang onto this. Hold it all in your heart. Treasure and remember this time, this place. Engage with these loved ones; be a part of what is happening here and now. Because at home, I am no longer defined by my occupation, my career. At home, I am just me. I am still a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, neighbour… but I am most of all, and most truly, my self. I begin to think and dream. I rest and heal, I plan and organize, and eventually, it’s time to take action. Renewed, inspired, I get up and go about the wonderful tasks of making and maintaining a beautiful life, a life that is worthy of sharing with those I love.
I have made space in my home to enable and facilitate this transformation. I call it my “nest”, or maybe it is more of a decompression chamber, making it possible for me to journey from a hostile environment to one I can freely navigate and survive without my spacesuit on. My special decompression chamber consists of a favourite and very comfortable chair set between two side tables, lit by a well-placed table lamp and floor lamp. On the tables are favourite items (my iPad with a stand and portable keyboard, my iPhone, a recharging station, stacks of books and magazines, and a space with a coaster for my cup of coffee/tea/wine/brandy. I keep a soft and cozy blanket handy in case a short nap is a necessity. The tables also store a couple of candles, fragrant body oil, handcare products, a treasured plush animal gifted to me when I was ill. When I first get home, I head for either my “nest” or a soak in the bathtub, and like a werewolf-in-reverse, I enter my private world and let new inner voices silence the shrillness of the outside throng. I will the thrumming of the beautiful life to reach my ears. If I can make it happen, it is “so sweet like Tupelo honey”, and I feel truly alive and connected through time and space to my personal community, my “village”, in a way that I experience nowhere else on earth.
This week I thought about re-feathering my nest with some new things to inspire me, and thought about making some changes to my home. I browsed online and went window-shopping about the city, gathering ideas and taking notes. I fell in love with the whimsical tables and shelves that are the artwork of Kino Guérin, who uses a mysteriously wonderful technique of bending wood into fantastic shapes. Kino Guérin writes the following about his creative style:
“I like challenges. I gave myself one a few years ago, one that would become my leitmotiv:From now on, I would make furniture with a unique piece of wood, no legs, no crossbars or supports. Of course, there is not only one piece but several very thin layers glued one over the other so as to be able to bend the whole piece. To simplify, let’s take a wooden panel; it makes an excellent top for a table but for the legs, one must bend the extremities until they reach the floor. This is the base, but it must also look very nice, original and be punchy. To get this overall effect, the panel must be bent further in order to obtain an airy movement, as if this had been done naturally. It must reflect equilibrium between the curve and the straight line, between exuberance and purity. The whole essence of this aesthetic approach can thus be captured at a glance and let one speechless at the sight of this splendid beauty, requiring no props or devices. It is my definition of perfection. I gave myself heart and soul in this approach, that I have made mine, and it is now my guidance. With it, I doubt no more.”
I hope to one day beautify my home by adding one of my favourite Kino Guérin pieces to my little nest. I have chosen three pieces to share with you, but I recommend checking out his website to see more of his amazing style and beautiful woodworking skills (kinoguerin.com). The following photos are reprinted with the permission of Kino Guérin.
Kino Guérin works from Melbourne, Quebec, but I went looking for a store in Vancouver, BC, that might offer his products for sale. I found only one store, Kozai Modern, which sells his “S” Shelf. Although I wished I could find more pieces by Kino Guérin, I was intrigued by the stunning woodwork of some of the other artists that were on display in the store, located at 1515 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. I enjoyed chatting with the owner, who was warm and friendly, as well as informative regarding the designers, about whom he is personally knowledgeable as he travels to select items for the Vancouver showroom. I enjoyed his story about the Mocoro table lamp designed by Toshiyuk Tani, who chose Japanese hemlock wood for this piece. There is some connection between the region where the wood is acquired for this lamp and the ancient Japanese tradition of wooden button-making, a dying art form with few surviving artisans who possess knowledge of the skill. The shop owner at Kozai Modern showed me how the construction of the Mocoro table lamp resembles a stack of wooden buttons, and we agreed it could have been appropriately named the “Button Lamp”. I also was drawn to the Yuzen Dining Chairs designed by Noriyuki Ebina. The selection of wooden tables, chairs and wooden lighting fixtures is exquisite, and any of the designers’ pieces featured at Kozai Modern would be a treasure to enjoy in one’s home.
Lighting introduces a world of difference to the atmosphere of a room, and can completely set the scene of your nesting place. I am partial to Tiffany lamps but I am forced to leave the hunt for, and purchase of, an original Tiffany to the collectors who can afford the time and money for it. There are many “Tiffany-inspired” pieces readily available, and I discovered a good selection on display at The Lighting Warehouse, located at 12420 Bridgeport Road, Richmond, BC. This store has an incredibly large selection of beautiful chandeliers, table lamps, floor lamps, wall sconces, outdoor lighting, and the list of lights goes on and on. I enjoyed the dazzling brilliance of the place.
There is one floor lamp on my “wish list” for my own home that cannot be purchased here in Canada. It is called “The Crocus Lamp” and is the work of New Zealand artisan Ross Mackay. The Crocus Floor Lamp is shaped like the crocus flower, and the “petals” wrap around the light as a shade, but adjust to open or close like the flower opening itself to the sun. Designer Ross Mackay describes his artistic process on his website (www.rossmackay.co.nz):
The creative journey for Ross began with engineering and design and has become a journey to fuse form and function. His works are conceptually based, evolving to designs through extensive prototyping. These designs are inspired by nature and constructed with modern engineering process’s to a high degree of perfection. “ I hope these pieces give you the pleasure in their aesthetics and use they gave me in their design and crafting.”
Seeing the familiar in a new light can be a refreshing mood-altering experience, illuminating things once hidden in the shadows.
A change of view offers a fresh perspective. From our home in Vancouver Heights, we have stunning views of our city, so we invested in some excellent outdoor furniture that is built to withstand years of sun, salt-water sea breezes, and the Northwest Coast’s periods of magical but relentless rain. At Cedar Rim Nursery, in nearby Langley, British Columbia, we discovered a pub table and four matching pub chairs created by C.R. Plastic Products, which are made in Stratford, Ontario, and built out of recycled plastic. We chose the “Timeless Collection” from the “Generation Line” in yellow, although they come in 17 colours. We placed the set on our upstairs balcony where the magnolia tree gracefully curtains us with her blossoming branches and the sweet perfume of the lilacs greet us in the Spring, and the beauty of the tall red cedar tree offers shade in the height of Summer. The height enables us to see for miles and miles to the West, overlooking the towers of downtown Vancouver, the range of mountains from Mt. Seymour to Cypress Mt., the Burrard Inlet and Lion’s Gate Bridge, and on a clear day, beyond to the islands. This is where my hubby prefers to “nest”, weather permitting, and whenever I join him there, I promise myself to make time to do so more often.
As I regenerate in the comfort of my home, I get ready to fly from the nest back out into the world. My goal is to face the outside world with renewed energy and with my work-life balance restored. With a holiday, a weekend, a time of renewal at home, my mind makes a U-turn, looking back in time towards a younger version of myself, characterized by playfulness. I find myself drawn to adventurous pursuits that would have seemed impossibly exhausting a short while before. Laughter bubbles up more readily. Creative ideas flow more freely. People seem kinder and have new appeal. During a rare day off last week, I discovered an inspiring store of playful and juicy ideas for making my home atmosphere more lively and colourful. Only three blocks from my office is Roche Bobois, located at 716 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC. Roche Bobois is a Parisian shop of wonders whose showroom included a chair with a back decorated with glorious goose feathers; a violet-coloured, aviator-inspired chair; and beautiful, modern white leather swivel chairs that cradled me in comfort.
I think that Roche Bobois‘ own cheerfully vibrant and colourful advertisement speaks for itself. It brought a smile to my face, and since it is a reincarnation of a 1971 design, took me gleefully back to my childhood. You can see some of the pieces featured in this ad if you visit the Vancouver store. This short video thrummed to me of happier, simpler, carefree days of youth. Check it out for yourself: