joy of nesting

joy of nesting
Shiree Hanson Segerstrom Design and Wellness for Women with Arthritis and Other Chronic Pain.

The Well Stocked Home


                                                                                                                                             
It takes years to accumulate the furniture, accessories, linens, cookware and serving pieces that make home life convenient and enjoyable. I’ve observed the different levels of efficiency of my own homes from my days as a new housewife, to new mom, to business woman, to my current state of working empty nester with the many degenerative changes that arthritis brings. 

Since I entertain quite a bit and host several family holidays throughout the year, I keep a lot of home related products on hand, both decorative and functional. My ways of entertaining have been vastly simplified over the past four years, preferring to set myself up for success, rather than disappointment that I can no longer stand for long periods of time.























Jeffrey Alan Marks

When you’re first starting out you of course need a lot of basics: furniture, dinner ware, mixing bowls and measuring cups, serving platters, a blender, a toaster, towels, sheets, prep knives, cookware, coffee maker, and canisters. But as time goes on you want more specialized conveniences like a great espresso machine, a Kitchen Aid mixer, a heavy roasting pan and rack, a large stock pot, a bread bowl, and a Cuisinart food processor. I remember years ago receiving a Kitchen Aid for Mother’s Day from my late husband. I felt I’d arrived. I felt like Donna Reed or Mrs. Cleaver, although a decidedly more liberated version.

Being an interior designer and homemaker, and loving to entertain, I’ve often pondered the things a couple might accumulate over the course of their marriage, to make their house a “well-stocked home”.

These are the things I’ve been accumulating over my thirty-five years of homemaking. I hope you find it helpful whether you’re building your own nest, or helping someone in an effort to build theirs.

The obvious initial furnishings to be purchased are a dining room table with two to three extension leaves; six armless side chairs, two larger, coordinating his and hers chairs with or without arms; a china hutch, buffet or breakfront; a comfortable three cushioned 90 inch sofa, or if room allows a 100 inch plus sectional; a unique and classic cocktail table; two 36 inch armchairs and matching ottomans, two smaller accent chairs, possibly wood framed in coordinating fabrics; one to two end tables to be placed between chairs, not at the end of the sofa which is cumbersome and potentially hazardous for people with problems with balance; a queen or king sized bed, two dressers, and classic, high quality floor and table lamps.

The well-stocked home can also utilize many other items that add beauty, function and comfort to everyday home life but these are the starters and will take many families five to eight years to collect.

Start with the best quality mattress and box spring you can manage. Sleep is the ultimate luxury, and the better quality the mattress, the better quality sleep you will get. You won’t regret it. The basics of bedding are a down comforter (down is preferable because it’s light weight and has great insulation), a duvet (a protective cover for your comforter to keep it clean since down comforters are not washable, two firm polyester pillows (for support for sitting up or reading in bed), and two down pillows for sleeping. If you have allergies to down, there are synthetic alternatives available. For aesthetics you can add two down filled decorative throw pillows. I like the rectangular ones because they not only look nice, but I can also use them for extra support to my lower back. A massive amount of pillows on the bed is inconvenient and passé. I never liked that look anyway. Too frou frou! A cashmere or ultra-soft throw is nice for throwing along the foot of the bed in case your feet get cold.

I love my electric blanket. I don’t keep it turned on while I sleep but it’s so, so lovely crawling into a preheated bed in the winter. Sheets with high thread count (300-400) have the most sensual comfort. Egyptian cotton is prized for its softness. As well, natural and even organic fibers are easier to keep stain free. Fiber’s matter to arthritis sufferers because it’s an auto immune disorder and allergies and toxins are daily concerns.

I love the look of white sheets, a white duvet, a pair of white pillow shams and color coordinated custom designer bed skirt and pillows. All the white has a relaxing, spa like appeal. I also like matching my bed skirt and armchair slipcover and coordinating it with my curtains and decorative throw pillows. I keep my bed sheets extra white with all natural Borax, which you add to your usual detergent every wash. Again, with arthritis, you definitely want to keep toxins to a minimum so choose laundry detergents that are less toxic such as Ecco, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers.

Each person needs a night stand and individual lamp. I have mine set up with these great dimmers I found at IKEA. You plug the dimmer into the wall and plug the lamp into the dimmer. Since my night stands are slipcovered there’s no storage. Instead, I have a big basket next to the bed that holds my current reading materials, dental floss, extra prescription glasses, and a box of Kleenex.

I still believe in doing single beds in the guest room. Guest rooms are so simple and fun. They’re kind of the room in the house where you feel free to pamper someone, guilt free. You need a night stand and a lamp and if budget allows it’s nice to provide the same luxuries you do for yourself such as high quality sheets, one firm pillow and one down pillow for sleeping per bed, an electric blanket, a down comforter, and a duvet. I also provide an individual oil heater. If the room has no ceiling fan an oscillating fan is a nice touch.

For dining and entertaining I like to keep one dresser or armoire in the house open for items pertaining to entertaining like tablecloths, napkins, napkin rings, formal silver, place cards, and an extra supply of candles like votives, pillars, and tapers.

Only put in your kitchen the items you can easily store. If you don’t have room for a Kitchen Aid, chances are wherever you store it, it will be too inconvenient to pull it out and it will go unused. If the laundry room is large enough and close enough to the kitchen it’s easy to set up a storage space for such lesser used items.

Some superfluous appliances I’ve accumulated over the years that I’ve really enjoyed are my Cuisinart ice cream and yogurt maker, my espresso machine, and swoon, my electric can opener. If you’re still struggling along with a manual can opener, it’s time to “catch up” on your modern conveniences women with arthritis! I don’t use a ton of canned foods but organic beans in non-bpa lined cans definitely line my pantry.

If budget allows seriously consider investing in your library at a young age. It takes a while to build but I’ve never regretted having my own library of fiction, biographies, business books, cook books, and design books. And bonus: built-in bookshelves appreciate the value of your home.

As time goes by, our financial means hopefully increase. Art, rugs, and high quality antiques (I know many people are anti antiquity these days but some of us do still invest in them) are big investment pieces and it’s a good plan to call upon a trusted expert who specializes in them to help you with details like aesthetics, budget, and appreciation. With such purchases you want to know they will retain their value certainly, but mostly, purchase to enjoy and use.

I admittedly have a ridiculous amount of things in my own home but I treasure and use them all. Well, I use most of them anyway. So many of the things I have came from a beloved family member or from my travels with my late husband. Some are quite valuable. Others are just comfortable old friends. The things that were passed down to me, I find hardest to part with.

My definition of a well-stocked home is a home that is evolved. It’s beautiful in a complex, multi-faceted way. It’s a mixture of era’s and styles and masculine and feminine elements. It has evolved over a period of twenty or more years. It has scale, unity, function, and non-function. It’s lots of books, baskets, extra throws and a few newspapers in the corner. It has a few nicks and maybe a tad too much furniture. It’s well stocked and lived in. Edited, but seldom minimal.

Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree’

And if you want more of arthritis related design and wellness, click here... "Pain Free Design and Wellness" and you'll get a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day!

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