A while ago urbaniche tagged me on this post where I had to find that one accessory/piece of furniture or design element in our place that I could not live without. For a few days after I was tagged, I found myself randomly wandering my place, looking at things with a new eye, giving the question some serious weight. What in my space is one thing I could possibly not do without? Perhaps the intent of the tag was more lighthearted; to find a chair one has restored lovingly or a jewellery box with sentimental value or a rug window or coloured wall, but for me the idea took on another level altogether, as years of conversation on “space” suddenly took on a new dimension.
Post marriage, I moved in with k into the place he grew up in, a 100 year old apartment building in a leafy locality in Karachi. As much as I loved our room which we had done up together, the rest of the house terrified me. It had that feel, like that of a piece of history left behind. I could not relate to it. So the first year I spent pretty much moving directly from the front door to my haven-room. The layout of the house was such that it would afford maximum privacy to all rooms, a perk I would have loved in my parental home where it seemed like us three sisters were practically in each others faces all the time. But here the yawning space and silence was cold and loud.
The kitchen was huge also with gigantic storage spaces. Freezing in the winters with a depressing brown tile on the floor. It screamed functional and I vowed to spend as little time in there as possible. My previous life had demanded total independence food wise. My mom expected us all to have our own breakfasts (since our timings never matched) and clean up after ourselves. Her kitchen had been a place for tea and gossip, with magazines strewen around a table smack in the centre and someone generally sitting there, having their snack and reading. By contrast the kitchen here was impersonal, stern, almost forbidding. It didnt invite time spent in it. It rather demanded that one gets on with their job and be done with it- an attitude most unfriendly especially for a kitchen to have.
Of course over time I grew to love this vast creaky old place. Isnt that how it always happens? We slowly figured out who we were as a couple and then seamlessly the growth of our space started. We designed and planned around the old world charm, trying to fuse it with our own sense of now without compromising on either. We trawled through dozens of fabric shops, browsed through hundreds of design ideas to get inspired into creating something new with the old. And then, as one wall turned green and another turned deep mustard brown, it started losing its pre-partition feel. Retro flower prints appeared and stripes helped cheer up the rather dark feel the main area had and dispel the thoughtful cigar puffing gloom so trademark of the sixties. Huge cushions accented in bright colours. Funky light fixture. That old table thats been here forever. We opened out our kitchens sullenness by repolishing the gorgeous wooden doors, cheered it up by painting it a sunshine yellow. Shelves tucked into nooks where there was that odd space looking forlorn and books and baskets and bottles filled up and cluttered and clanged and found places for themselves. We created work counters and wood shelves to add the depth in colour and then added cluuter to make it feel full of energy. Clutter, colour, energy.
I realize I will sound limited and judgemental for saying this but I will anyways. I don’t understand people who don’t claim their immediate space. I don’t understand who they camnot help but start changing things to match the changing them. I am at a loss when people live ina space for years- yes years- and feel no itch to do something to it. I am constantly moving things around. White flowers turn yellow, green cushion in favour of magenta, brown tea mugs on monday then dark gold on friday. Maybe its part of the job curse, this need to prod and poke at things, fix them, tweak them; it adds to the awed sensation and feeling that all these details, colours, feeling, and arrangement are in some kind of evolving celestial alignment with our lives.