How I love the blank slate of mid-January. The hustle of the holidays is behind you, the gifts are integrated into the home, the diet has returned to a more sustainable level of calories and all the Christmas decorations are back in the attic. Why, when the lights and decor bring so much joy as we deck the halls in November are we so very ready to pack it all up in January?
Even nature (when it cooperates) covers the earth in January with a fresh blanket of white. Is there anything more promising than waking up to a snow day? It’s amazing to sleep in and then later surround yourself with books and a hot cup of coffee, chocolate or tea. I love to bake if the power is on, and I always have a pot of soup or chili on the stove. All the more reason to simplify your decor and prepare the house for the storms that may come.
If you read the Nesting Place blog, you will be well aware of Myquillin Smith’s encouragement to quiet your home. The essence of this basically means to take everything away and then very sparingly put things back. Everything else can be stowed until a later date, sold or donated. It feels so great to walk into a room that isn’t full of everything you own. When you can pare down to the few things you love, those things can shine and take center stage.
So, yesterday I cleared off my mantle. I took off the Christmas lights and the gold swag I had left up in the vain hope of bringing a little mid-winter sparkle. It really just looked unfinished and since Christmas was over, we kept forgetting to turn on the lights. I wiped down the mantle, removed the vintage window we had hanging up and replaced it with a portrait* I happen to have. I brought in a plant I’ve managed to keep alive through the dark days of winter, a short stack of books and a lantern to keep the hygge alive.
Voila! A fresh space using items we already had. It tells a little story because the portrait is of a Norwegian hero, Fritjof Nansen. He was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat and statesman, a truly remarkable guy. The Norwegian banner is from my childhood home. So the lesson here is to use what you love, highlight your favorites and put the rest away for now. Give yourself the gift of a cleaned up, prioritized space.
*The portrait is a replica of a photograph taken of Nansen. The painting was done by Eddie Schultz who was my grandmother’s niece’s husband. He lived in University Place overlooking the Narrows Bridge. He gifted this painting to my grandparents. My sister gave it to me the last time I was visiting. It might not always be hanging over the fireplace, but it will always have a spot her in our home. I’m also blessed to have another or Eddie’s paintings, it’s of my great grandmother. I don’t have a photo of her, but I do have this gem, and I am so blessed.