One of my favorite movies is “You Can’t Take it With You“, a delightful Frank Capra movie. It’s fun and quirky but my favorite thing about it is the way the entire Vanderhof family utilizes their home for their individual interests and hobbies. This movie got me thinking about creating creativity and hobby centers in the home.
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Creating Centers in the Home
Each member of the Vanderhof household pursues their interests with passion and delight.
Penny has a desk and typewriter where she is writing a novel and later on she impetuously decides to return to a former hobby. Next thing you know she has a giant easel set up and has conscripted a live model.
Essie is often in the kitchen creating candy to sell around the neighborhood. She is also an aspiring ballerina and the living room is periodically taken over by her ballet lessons.
Essie’s husband, Ed, is a typesetter and plays the marimba.
Grandpa is a stamp collector. Paul and Mr. DePinna (the man who came to deliver ice five years previously and never left) design fireworks in the basement. A local clerk, Mr. Poppins, is brought home one day by Grandpa and he joins the basement group where he works on creating animated toys.
It’s one joyous, creative, eccentric family all working, playing and creating together in a harmonious, albeit sometimes chaotic household. While few of us live in similar multi-generational, multi-family homes where no one seems to have a real job (except Alice, the female protagonist) there are still lessons to learn and ideas we can adapt in our own homes.
Are you familiar with preschool learning centers? Centers are defined areas in a classroom, each with a specific purpose. Some common centers might include:
- art center
- blocks center
- dramatic play center
- writing center
- science center
- reading center
The thought occurred to me that we could design our homes with various “centers”, too. I believe one’s home should be more than just a place to eat, sleep and watch television. Rather, I think a home should nurture every part of the lives of those who live there.
Many of us are learning new skills or rediscovering old hobbies these days now that we are spending more time at home. For instance, my husband used to enjoy building models as a kid and early in our marriage. He hasn’t done this in decades but is getting back into it again.
I’ve mentioned before that I want to get back into painting. I also enjoy doing puzzles and have several other hobbies or activities I enjoy and want to make a regular part of my life. And that is why I believe intentionally creating centers in the home is a great idea.
Here are some centers I’ve thought of:
- Crafts/model building – David has set up a card table in our guest room to work on the model he is building. I bought him a really cool free-standing lighted magnifying glass to help him see the detail he is working on. Currently this area is a mess but I’ve just left him to it. I am going to clear out a dresser drawer for him in that room so he can have a place to put related items not currently in use. Update: He later cleared out the area under our stairs and created a workspace for himself to work on models.
- Puzzle/game table – About a year and a half ago I bought an attractive folding wood game table and chairs for our family room. Initially I intended to just use it occasionally and put it away between uses. However, it has turned out to be such a handy place to keep a puzzle set out, color in one of my adult coloring books, write Christmas cards, or for extra seating when we have guests (if we ever get to do that again!). I decided to just leave it up all the time.
- Art/painting area – One of my favorite stories about my daughter involves painting. When she was little I set up a painting area in her bedroom. I put a vinyl tablecloth on the floor and set up a child’s easel on it. She was allowed to use it whenever she wanted. One morning before school I went to check on her progress getting dressed. There she stood at the easel painting, wearing nothing but panties and socks. Art can be distracting. Now, I don’t have any plans for painting without my clothes on but I *DO* plan to set up an area to paint. Mine is going to be in my office.
- Reading nook – I believe every home needs at least one comfy area for reading. Better yet, every reader in the house needs their OWN reading nook. A comfortable chair, a corner of a sofa, a window seat (my dream!) or maybe just a bean bag chair tucked away in a private corner – a reading nook needs little more than a comfortable place to sit and good lighting. I’m currently on the hunt for a free-standing reading lamp to put next to my chair in our library. Update: Found one and bought one for each of our library chairs. Here is the link although it’s currently unavailable.
- Baking Center – Is baking your thing? Create a baking center in the kitchen. Gather baking supplies in one area of the kitchen so everything is easily accessible when the desire for a Fresh Banana Cake strikes.
- Meditation/yoga space – I have seen some really gorgeous meditation and yoga rooms on Pinterest and feel certain that if I had one of those I would meditate faithfully every day and practice yoga so often I would look like Lilias. Just one of my many fantasies. But these activities don’t require a dedicated studio with gleaming bamboo floors. I currently have set up my meditation area in our library. On one of the end tables I have placed my salt lamp, a candle, incense, mala beads and my books on meditation and yoga. My meditation cushion is propped up nearby for easy access and my yoga mat is stored in the corner behind my chair. This is a “center” I’d really like to upgrade at some point and am collecting ideas.
- Letter writing area – I love a good hand-written letter and truly believe this is something that we should bring back. I have a small, antique desk in our library and this is where I have my letter-writing supplies. The desk faces a large window which somehow lends itself to the whole letter-writing experience.
There are a few other centers I’d like to set up in my home at some point:
- Menu planning – I currently do this in my office most of the time but I want to make better use of my large collection of cookbooks. These are stored in my kitchen so I think menu planning would be better done at the kitchen table. I’m envisioning a basket or some type of container where I can store previous menu plans, notebooks, recipe cards, etc. Last year I bought a large binder which I intend to collect printed recipes – my own, other “tried and true” recipes, as well as those I’d like to try.
- Bird watching area – As soon as David finishes remodeling our balcony I want to hang various bird feeders around it. We already have a good pair of binoculars and at least one bird identification book. I’ll keep these handy in a weather proof box or some type of closed storage on the balcony.
- Travel/vacation planning area – We’ve already missed one vacation this year and our planned trip to Belize in December is iffy. Travel is one of my passions so this makes me sad. However, one thing I CAN do is plan future trips. I am going to collect my many travel magazines in a dedicated area, along with a notebook and binder with sheet protector pages and begin planning future trips. I may also put together a travel scrapbook from past trips.
- Project area – Photo albums, scrapbooks, a vision board and an illustrated journal – these are all things I’d like to work on. The game table in our family room would be a great place to work on projects such as these. I just need better lighting and a storage system for each of these projects.
Additional Ideas for Home Centers:
- Music area – Are you a musician? A dedicated space to play and/or write music would seem to be essential. We aren’t musicians by any stretch of the imagination but I play a little bit of piano and we love to listen to music. My piano is in our library and that is also where we have our stereo system and vinyl record collection.
- Sewing/Quilting – Both of these absolutely require dedicated space, at least while in progress. I don’t do either but I do want to put together a nice sewing basket for mending.
- Study area – If someone in your household is in school it’s important to have a desk or table in a quiet place to study. Good lighting and all the necessary supplies should be kept at the ready.
- Potting table or shed
- Game area
What do you think? Does the idea of setting up centers in your home intrigue you? If so, which centers are you interested in or already have set up? Any I didn’t mention? Would you like me to do more detailed posts about some of these centers, including pictures of my own?
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