A few days ago I took my son to do some shopping in preparation for his Freshman move into a college dorm room. We roamed the aisles of Target, buying exciting things like a collapsible hamper, laundry detergent, towels, and storage containers. Whenever I mentioned something about décor, he was unconcerned and disinterested. I mentioned he might want a throw rug, to which he replied “yeah, I figured I’d just bring the one in my room now, so I have something to step on when I get out of bed.” How his room will look is of little consequence to him at this point. It’s more about practicality and ease. Because he’s a guy.
Guys care about function and having a place for their stuff. Having it all look nice is rarely a big deal. For women, on the other hand, our surroundings matter. Whether you give us a tiny or large space, we will make it our own. We all have our personal spaces… might be a work office or cubby, a computer desk, a classroom, a command central table top or office in our homes or a tucked away reading nook – whatever it is, we put our mark on it by adding some sort of décor and style that reflects us.
My husband and I share an “office” room in our house. My side with my desk includes a huge bulletin board full of information, inspirational quotes and photos, framed art on the walls, memorabilia and small meaningful (to me) knick-knacks on my desk. My husband’s side is a desk with computer, small bulletin board he mostly ignores, and piles of papers. Similarly, his workshop is full of equipment and… to me, a mess. To him, it is everything he needs to function and do work. My husband cares that the yard looks decent and the lawn is mowed. He leaves the decisions on interior home décor to me. I truly think he would let me do anything in our shared space, short of hanging a disco ball and strobe lights in the living room. Then again, as long as he still had his recliner chair and a clear view of the TV, he’d probably be ok with it.
What fascinates me is the variety of taste and style we women choose for our spaces. Some women have framed photos of family all over their house, while others (like me) have a couple particular walls reserved for family pics. I know some women with houses full of fascinating trinkets, artwork, and memorabilia, and others who have virtually nothing on any surface or wall (because who wants to dust?).
Our character and personality are even more evident when you give us smaller spaces to make our nests, because we have to be more selective about what we choose to have surrounding us. My co-workers’ desk areas are classic examples. One has a maximum of three things on her desk at any time. When she is not in the office, whether for 2 hours or 2 weeks, her area is spotless. Another, who is a new addition to our team, is already adding fun items like a fish tank complete with beta fish and live plant filtration. As for me, my area is a bit of a mish-mash… I have photos of people and animals who are important in my life, one plant I’m attempting to nurse back to health thanks to fluorescent lighting, and various bits of inspirational text and quotes. (I’ve always had a weakness for words. Put me in one of those gift shops with wooden signs of phrases and quotes, and I could be lost for hours.) During the day, my desk looks like something exploded. But before I leave for the day I have to clean up, straighten and re-pile. Kind of like how I can’t leave the house with dishes in the sink or the bed unmade. But other folks can literally stop wherever they are, get up and leave. I kind of marvel at that skill.
Earlier this year, a group of us at work took a couple of lunch time breaks to create vision boards. We had no guidelines or “must haves”, just time and materials to create something that not only looks kind of cool in our work spaces, but also speaks to us, and about us, in some way. Could be motivational & inspirational for work, or health, or family, or just plain fun, filled with things we like that give us happy feelings. I guess in a way the boards are like a snapshot view into our psyche. (At least the view we were ok sharing publicly with coworkers). To me, it is just another piece of flare to show our individuality. Our nest areas, no matter where they are, are like short illustrated stories about each of us.
I’m sure if I had a daughter who was going off to college, she would have already connected with her future roommate to determine room layout, wall-hangings, curtains and color schemes. But my guy said as long as he’s got a place to put his electronics, and a bed to sleep on, he’s all set. Sure, he’ll probably toss a poster or two up at some point. And there just may be a collage frame of family and friends that arrives in a mom-made care package at some point that he may put on his desk after an appreciative eye roll. That’s the true beauty of our spaces. They can be whatever we want them to be. And it is time for my little bird to leave his home nest that is made up mostly of my personal preferences, and start making his own nests. Even if that means starting with a boring grey rug because it feels good under his feet.