It is said that if you build it, they will come. I convinced the Carpenter to create a sanctuary in our home and guess what? My family showed up.

Our humble home is simple and cozy, and as a fiscally-challenged couple, we aren’t likely to turn down freebies. When my parents bought new living room furniture, we jumped at the chance to recycle, no let’s call it “up-cycle” their old three-piece set. It’s the environmentally-friendly thing to do (did I mention it was free?).

It’s amazing what you can do with your living space when you take the drum kit out of the dining room and move some things around. Voila, a sanctuary, complete with a sofa, chair and love seat, where there was none before. To differentiate, the family room remains the “lounge of excess,” where television remotes and video games mingle. This is the sanctuary. No remotes allowed. Ever. Okay, satellite radio, but that’s it.

The old furniture has found a new purpose in our home. It doesn’t match the walls, it certainly doesn’t fit with the devil-may-care motif we have going here, yet despite being more than 20 years old, it still looks better than most of what we do own.

I believe the furniture has returned to me to complete its life cycle. Call it furniture karma. My mother never let us into the room where this furniture was placed when I was growing up; you know the space ironically called the “living room” where nobody was actually allowed to live because the plush polyester dusty rose (oh yes, really) carpet had been so carefully vacuumed in succinct rows, much like the grass outside the window, that you didn’t dare put a footprint onto it, for fear she’d make you vacuum it again. I was so desperate to sit on that couch that in an act of rebellion, I once leapt from the tiled front foyer floor, over the pristine carpet, to do a face plant on the couch, just to prove I could. Now we are united, the sofa and I, and now I insist, “no food allowed.” Double karma?

The up-cycled furniture has created a living space for us where we didn’t even realize one was missing. It’s become the quiet gathering spot, the place where we sit together and completely ignore one another, in the comfort of silence that isn’t hostile, but instead tranquil.

Sometimes everyone is on a technology device, listening to music, playing a game or chatting with friends. Occasionally there is an art project happening. And me? I sit reading a book. I have waited a long time to have the time to sit and perform the selfish act of reading. A funny thing happens when you read in front of your children: they tend to follow suit. It’s contagious.

From time to time, we share an interesting story we’re reading, or tell a joke we’ve just found on the Internet. We occasionally have a period of banter, usually around trivia, and then casually resume our silence. There we sit, all four of us, with the dog trading moments of loyalty between members of the family, depending on the availability of belly rubs. This is our dysfunctional family at its best: simply hanging out.

It’s amazing what happens when you build a space for sanctuary. It opens us up, calms us down and brings us home.


Kelly Waterhouse