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re·treat/riˈtrēt/ part 2

Earlier this year, I posted about retreating. I was deep in the Italian countryside, lolling about and generally enjoying life, living in the moment. I had always thought retreat, part 2, might be a travel blog, describing some wonderfully unknown spots I’ve been lucky enough to visit. Now, here I am in NYC, as each day gets a little colder and the evenings are drawing in, I’ve discovered something that’s always been there, I’ve just never used it in this way. My memories. My mind. A place to constantly retreat. As I  grew up in rural England, New York has become a haven of undiscovered memories for me, triggered by my senses……wonderful Autumn weather in the park, the smell of open fires, a wintery sunset, and the smell of roasting potatoes.

Despite this newfound love of delving into memories, NYC is still offering me new fun each and every day. For instance, a few weeks ago, it snowed. In October. The earliest snowfall NY has seen in 120 years. It’s unheard of. Seeing as I haven’t actually had any snow for ten, and my dog has seen none at all, our house was a very excited place on this particular Saturday morning when giant, perfectly formed snowflakes started to shower outside our windows. Before long there was a soft white blanket forming on the cars, trees and along our street. What a perfect Autumn treat.

I really could not contain my excitement. I felt as though I was five years old again, running up and down the stairs and getting more and more excited as it continued to fall.  It appeared I was the only one in the house, street, neighbourhood, and probably city who was this excited.

What I didn’t stop to think about was that the untimely snow was not a welcome visitor. Once the snow and cold does set in – we are likely to have it for a few months. This, I am not yet prepared for. I wonder how I will cope with up to several feet of snow, will I remember what it feels like to run in the sand, feel the warm sun on my skin? These are becoming distant memories for me, as are many other things. Places I might never go again, people I will never see.

Instead of allowing memories to make you feel sad, or miss things even more, start to look at your mind as a great big old book full of stories from the past, that you like to re – read. Old projections of films that you might let flick across your  eyes, or big boxes of old photos that are fun to look through, giggle at, and cherish. These are all locked away, and if we really concentrate, we can start to re – remember things we thought we had forgotten. 

Sometimes, it’s nice to just settle down with a cup of tea, or snuggle up in bed… and remember. And in the name of synchronicity, my dear older brother sent me some wise words today, that are simply perfect.
“To transfer happy memories from the past into the present is a good way to survive difficult times and allow cloudy days to become emotionally stable. This is because you get intensively in contact with the moments of happiness in your life. It is not about a wistful recall. The aim is rather to gain strength and confidence for the present.

To do this, close your eyes and think very deliberately and intensely about a beautiful experience or a breathtaking moment of happiness in your life. Use all your senses and visualize a very specific situation, a location, a smell or a song as much in detail as possible. You will see: This can really make you happy.” Unknown.

A thought for today, Wednesday 30th November 2011, take a moment, to remember someone, something or somewhere you might have lost in time. Enjoy the memory. It will last forever. 


1. Concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty
2. Giving or designed to give pleasure through beauty

Since we moved into our home in Brooklyn, my husband, who has an appreciation of the design aesthetic, but is not a designer by any stretch of the imagination, has, on many occasions said to me… ‘Lets just get this house finished’, or… ‘How much are you going to spend on a piece of furniture for that corner?’.
How on earth do I know how much I am going to spend on a piece of furniture if I haven’t found it yet? It might be $20, it might be $1000… so long as it is just right. That is what matters. And how can I ‘Just get it finished’ when I don’t know if it will take me two days or two weeks to find the perfect piece?
My house will never be finished… no house I ever live in, will ever really be finished. I am constantly re – working certain areas, adding new objects of beauty to spaces, to further add my mark.
Interior Design and Decoration in your own home is a process. It is a personal, yet visual and emotional journey, truly reflecting what you find to be beautiful and comfortable to surround yourself with.
The most important thing to remember is that every piece you ever add to your home, or your ‘story’, can often be moved and re – worked into a new corner, a new room… even a new home. That way, no matter how much you do or don’t spend on something, you are always investing in it. Try not to think of anything as a temporary solution… it’s just dead money.

A TV console from Sydney, now turned into a hallway piece.

I once advised a client who was looking for, and found a specific piece for her home. It was a piece, however, that she said once they moved she could replace…if she felt it didn’t work. This piece was worth over $5000. Even if you do have the spare cash to continually regenerate and replace – if you can invest in items which can be easily tranfered to a new home – then you’ve not only done yourself a favour, you have successfully executed decoration that has longevity, and sustainability.

An old kitchen stool, now becomes a bath mat holder in Brooklyn.

Of course, each space is really different, and you can’t guarantee that every item you buy will always stay with you – but if you keep this idea in mind every time you decorate, it will help you to grow your own style and work on a design story that will continue to evolve with you. Things will naturally start to work together and you will find yourself saying, ‘Oh that’s just there for the time being’ less and less. 

Two old suitcases from a garage sale in Bondi, now become a functional bedside coupled with a modern desk lamp.

All these items were shipped from Sydney, and re – styled into this little ‘nook’ in our new home.

Back to our beautiful rental. There are some things we have done where friends have looked at me in utter horror.

 ‘Change the carpets and the light fittings? But you don’t even own it, and it goes against everything you are trying to teach me?!’  My answer is simply this, it is still an investment…. I’ve invested in my own happiness at being able to walk up my stairs and along my hallways for the next 12 – 24 months without having to cringe. And this, I simply adore!

When working on these ideas in a rental property, there are several things you can do to add colour and contrast to your home without breaking the bank, or your rental bond agreement.

You can professionally replace light fixtures, so long as you keep the current ones safe, and put them back when you leave. You can paint weird and wonderful colours to your heart’s desire, so long as you either get the OK from your landlord, or agree to paint it back when you leave. You can hang art, mirrors, curtains and blinds… all with personal touches.  This is not the deal with the carpet unfortunately, but it does make our space more liveable and loveable during our time here. 

And our landlord really likes us!