Sunday, 2 November 2014

Life, styled



I mentioned blogging the other day, and how I don't view Mitenska as a 'lifestyle' blog. And then I read this post by Annie and her words resonated with me: the sentiment about life being lived, and not simply 'styled', really got me thinking.

Of course, there's a difference between me trying to create pretty photos for the blog and suggesting I live a perfect, straight-from-the-pages-of The Simple Things magazine kind of life. I love details and making little vignettes around the house but that's for my benefit as much as anyone else's. My outdoor photography reflects this: almost all the pictures I take are close-ups of things I've spotted and want to capture in detail. Colours, textures, signs of the seasons.

But Mitenska's about my life. It's not about suggesting we spend our time foraging for mushrooms and shopping for artisan bread, hanging out in hipster coffee shops or glamping with our cool friends. Because we don't. 

Joe eats waffles and beans and watches TV. No, not all the time (or even most of it). But I don't intimate for one moment that our days are filled with meaningful activities. We spend hours outdoors and we have fun and read books, but I wouldn't try to pass myself off as a perfect parent who makes organic meals and creates her own Play Doh.


We're, well, normal. 

So I decided to share something 'normal' with you. My workspace. Neither stylish nor particularly inspiring but I don't work from a beautiful garden office warmed by a woodburning stove. I sit in the front room (the coldest in the house) and yesterday dragged my whole desk and computer and all the rest of it across the room to be next to the radiator.


No styling here, or pretty photographic filters to counter-effect the lack of light on a November afternoon. Yes, it's a tidy space but that's because I'm tidy. You can see the magnolia walls (I really don't like magnolia) and the marks on them, the old curtains and the frankly quite dreadful job that's been made of a once lovely Victorian fireplace.

But we only rent the house. It's spacious and I'm lucky to have a whole room to myself where I can write in peace and close the door afterwards without having to clear everything away.


This corner has been 'styled' with a camera tripod doubling up as a coat stand. And no, that isn't a pile of horse manure on the floor. It's a string of bells. Naturally. The lampshade is awaiting some kind of 'treatment', as yet undecided.


The spray carnations are faded and on their last legs, as is the table holding my drawing board. It's worryingly wobbly and - typically - we've lost the key for tightening the legs.


This isn't 'styled' either. It's just a collection of things which are neat and tidy - for now.


And here's my ugly but comfortable chair from which I blog and edit photos and make notes. Right next to the radiator. The (slightly askew) board behind doesn't have beautiful moodboard-type things pinned to it. Just a planner for blog posts, collaborations etc. It keeps me organised and I'm so glad I found it online (the source escapes me, sorry).

So, there you have it. An important part of my life: the place where I get creative and spend my free moments. A bit (OK, a lot) cold, a little gloomy at times and it doesn't have the most inspiring view from the window. But it's a real working space filled with the stuff I use, not props and objets

Of course I love aesthetics and beautiful things. Always have. My dream job would actually be doing shop window displays or photographic styling. I sigh over Pinterest and occasionally buy a magazine or two. I find ideas and I display objects (and dream of our next house having a mantelpiece for my treasures). But Mitenska is written about the life we live, not one I want to portray. I don't want people to aspire to anything here. To try and suggest we have some kind of cool 'lifestyle' would be disingenuous, and anyway - who can be bothered trying to keep up a charade?

Not to mention that some of my nearest and dearest read the blog and know the real truth...

Anyway, normal service - complete with pretty photos - will be resumed next week. Hope you've had a good weekend and enjoyed a look behind the scenes at my little corner of the house.

Oh, and by the way - if anyone can tell me how to make my photos bigger here on Blogger I'd be most grateful as the Extra Large option really isn't very large at all. I'm thinking it may involve custom sizing (but where?) or - gulp - I may have to look into moving to my own site...

39 comments:

  1. I think your workspace is really nice and I envy you having a whole room to yourself. I would love to be able to shut a door and be in my own space. I really like your desk, it's very organized and looks like a good place to think and work. I agree about "lifestyle" blogging; I can't imagine that many people visit my blog and think they should aspire to the things I share, but hopefully it comes across that I try to be happy in my space and in my own life, and that would be enough for me.

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    1. That's exactly what comes across in your blog - and that's why I enjoy it :)
      I also like to read about day to day life in the U.S. (I've always dreamed of moving there and would go in a second given half a chance and a green card)...

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  2. I think your front room with your work place is very pretty. I wish I could say that I am tidy but I am not. Well, I am but my four children aren't and it is one battle I do not choose to fight every day. Love your side board and the black lamp. I don't have my own workplace but have claimed one armchair as my personal office space... not very glamorous but I don't mind. I have tried (by accident) the original size for photos I post and it was enormous. I guess it has something to do with the pixels but wouldn't know for sure. This is on blogger. Have a lovely week Sarah. x

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    1. You too! And yes, the original size option does mean the photo covers the entire blog. But I have found the answer :)
      I used to sit in an armchair with my laptop but then actually sat ON my laptop (the screen). I replaced it with a PC instead, so am now desk-bound!

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  3. Do you need to make them super big? If we click on them, they come up much bigger.

    I love the workspace. Real life, lived well. Blogs are good like that.

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    1. Thanks! And I've sorted the image size out now, thanks to a very helpful comment (below, somewhere)...

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  4. Hooray for reality! I'm all for it.

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    1. I know that - and I have to say your honesty over at The Quince Tree has inspired me in many ways to opt for 'real'. It's so much easier, I find!

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  5. Your space is lovely, and all the better for being real and unstyled. Like Jennifer I envy you your own room. I have a laptop on my lap on the sofa or on the dining table if it's free. When the battery fades I have to move closer to the plug. But it's fine, I have enough, and I don't really mind being unstyled, although it would be good if there were fewer holes in things. CJ xx

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    1. Oh yes! The bath towels around here are pretty ancient and we have more than our fair share of cup marks on things but at least it shows we actually live here and don't just waft around being glamorous and enigmatic... x

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  6. A lovely post that says everything I feel about blogging and lifestyles etc. My blog is obviously an edited version of my life but it is still a truthful version that represents who I am. Which is exactly how your blog feels too.

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    1. Yes, things are edited here too - it's not a 'laid bare' kind of place. But I do think if we were all honest and 'real' there's be a lot more diversity in blogging, rather than 'genres'. And thank you for your kind comment too :)

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  7. great post!

    the XL photo size on blogger is 640 pixels wide (for landscape) or tall (for portrait). to post larger pictures, you'll probably need to size them to what width you want and then choose "original size" when you're sizing them in blogger.

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    1. Thank you! And after reading your comment I went straight to the computer, played around and have improved things no end. It was embarrassingly easy too (thanks to PicMonkey)...
      Thanks again for helping out, I really appreciate it :)

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  8. Hey Sarah,
    As long as the person writing or photographing or styling with honesty and integrity, that's fine with me. I have unsubscribed to a few blogs lately because their change of direction didn't fit in with what I want to get from the blogging process. I really enjoy looking a beautifully composed picture. It's great that anyone of us can capture a moment and record it for all time. I get a real kick out of that. And I enjoy getting close up and personal with my camera too. I think it's the almost abstract quality of the resulting image that I find pleasing. And yes I have 'styled' shots too. I mean, who really wants to see a tottering pile of my ironing to the left of a cute picture of Olly. I don't actually. And my blog is my personal space after all. So if I want to 'edit' the picture it's mine and your!) prerogative! I think most of us know that no-one has the perfect life, although there was a time that I aspired to that image. Not now though. I'm too scruffy, too silly and I really don't take myself massively seriously.
    I actually really like your workspace. I envy it. I love the idea of you dragging your desk closer to the radiator for a bit of warmth. That's real. It looks like a space conducive to the flow of ideas. I sit at the dining table, which is part of the main living area. I tend to write after Olly has gone to bed. Then at least I can have some peace and quiet. I hope to have a designated works pace one day, but I quite like my living room. It's light in the summer and cosy in the winter.
    I love your blog Sarah. I really enjoy your photography, and I enjoy your 'voice' too.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I totally agree with that last line Leanne. And I do hope you're not thinking I'd said anything against styled blog shots ... I was talking about life not blogging ... thinking that 50 plus years ago few people were thinking about how they lived because they were too busy just getting on with living.

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    2. Thanks both for getting into this. I love styling photos as making things look pretty is more or less a compulsion. And yes, I move things out of the way or reposition them for a better photo. I'm way too fussy not to.
      I'd say that the photography aspect of blogging is as rewarding as the actual writing. And if you're going to be honest about who you are and how you live then there's nothing wrong with making things look how you like them to. It's when you start suggesting you have a life others should aspire to that's a bit insincere, I think.
      I also think that it all depends on your reason for blogging in the first place. If, like me, you write to record you life and to connect with others then it makes sense to be honest. If, however, you're doing it purely to develop a career then I suppose you'll try and project a certain image or lifestyle to attract those publications and advertisers you're hoping to get involved with.
      S x

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  9. Hooray for reality, I'm all for it! Great post Sarah

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    1. I didn't mean to repeat myself! Sorry about that.

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  10. That's the thing about the word lifestyle isn't it, it somehow suggests that there's a right way to do things, that just life on it's own isn't enough. I wasn't actually thinking about blogs when I wrote that post though so much as how hard it is to escape marketers ideas of how our homes should look.

    I really enjoyed this post, the realness of it, but then I've never read a post of yours that wasn't 'real' :)

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    1. Thanks, Annie.
      I have to say, I do tire of property shows and interiors mags where people seem to have inordinate amounts of money to spend on houses and 'improvements'. And the whole glossy, bland, sleek thing has never floated my boat either. It all seems - well, a bit empty somehow.
      Not every kitchen needs an (unused) espresso machine or (again, unused) steam oven. Useful or beautiful is my mantra. Oh, and maybe a few things which have sentimental meaning too.
      I agree. Life is about real living, not pretending to be part of a trend.
      I'm glad you took time to comment (and provided the seed of the idea for this post).
      Sarah :)

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  11. I love that post as much as I love your workspace. I have my sewing room and I think it's pretty much the same in that its tidy (okay, obsessively tidy) but has things that are of sentimental value as well as the 'essentials'.

    Can I just say that I thought these photos were just as 'pretty', in their own way, as the gorgeous ones you usually post. I'd like to think that I can now spot a 'Sarah' photo; all of yours have the same quality (that I have just sat here for 5 minutes trying, and failing, to put into words!)

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    1. Thank you! You're like me with needing tidiness in order to think properly. Sometimes it's a good thing but I do find it hard to relax when there's a bit of fluff on the carpet. Perfectionism can be a tiring trait...
      And I really need to sort through all these photos, archiving them and saving some for future posts. The hard drive of my computer is one place that's seriously untidy...

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  12. at last, a real person writing about real life in a real lived in house! How refreshing! Love it!

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    1. Thank you. I do worry about alienating those who want to imagine themselves away, or find inspiration through looking at my home. But I suspect that masquerading as some lifestyle queen like Martha Stewart would be nigh on impossible!

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  13. Your workspace looks very nice even though not styled (and being cold). What is in the process of becoming my craft room is also the coldest room in our house. It will never look like something from a magazine. How do you have everything suitably organised for every sort of project? It's not possible - at last that's what I think. It's good to hear about your 'real' life.

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  14. Although my home is "styled" in the sense that I decorate for the seasons, change things around and try and make it look pretty, that is because it is what I like to do and what I have done literally all my life. I do like things to be tidy and organised, but it isn't always like that. I will happily shove a pile of ironing or dirty dishes out of the way of a photo because I don't want to see them, and I don't suppose that anyone else does. I do that because I want to though, not because I think that it makes me a better person or because anyone will think more or less of me. I imagine that someone is looking at a picture of say a crocheted item to see the item, not the other stuff of daily life. It is nice to see your room, and although it may not be styled or perfect or any of those other things that people say, it is very stylish and looks like a lovely light and bright place to work. Your sideboard is incredibly stylish - all on its own! xx

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  15. Hi Mitenska, I upload my photos to flickr first, where they are automatically re-sized, keeping the original large size and then I upload to my blog from there. You can choose which size to upload. I don't know if that helps. It's nice to keep things real by the way! X

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  16. I really loved seeing a little glimpse into your world via your workspace. I think one of the reasons I enjoy your blog because it is so 'real'. My photos are barely styled, I might move a bottle or can out of a kitchen shot (but often forget!) and then think oh well. It's helpful being naturally tidy, but it's definitely something I have to work at. I'd love a little space to spread stuff out. Currently I'm on the sofa or at the dining table and it all gets put away when I've finished. I really love the lamp and vase near the typewriter, they all looks o good together. xx

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  17. Great post Sarah! I can relate to your words so well. And I really like your workspace. Homely and tidy. Just lovely. Bee xx

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  18. Great post. You're very kind showing us around your home. We all love to snoop around each other's houses! Thankyou.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I'm terrible for nosying... but it's such a good pastime :)

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  19. What a beautiful space to work in. Did you increase the photos in this post, just wondering as it took ages to load this post as we have fairly slow broadband............

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    1. Hello! No, not in this one. The next post has bigger images though - hope they don't cause any issues for you.
      S

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  20. I love this - sleeping it real :)
    I'm afraid I can offer no help with Blogger and images - but if you ever want to move to WordPress of Squarespace then I'll help! x

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    1. Thank you! I do use Squarespace for my Folklings collaboration, and must admit I haven't the foggiest what I'm doing with it. Luckily I just submit my stuff and someone tidies it up for me!
      S x

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    2. Hold on - it's just clicked... Hello! And yes, maybe I would consider a move. I'll definitely look into it as it looks much prettier.
      Thanks Annie x

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  21. wonderful post Sarah, blogging with honesty x

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  22. Very late to the party here but wanted to say how much I enjoyed this post. I am, lately, really disillusioned with the word Styling and all that it represents. It makes me want to run screaming to the woods. But I am guilty of tidying away things like remote controls (we seem to have SO many...) from photos...so maybe I'm a hypocrite. Anyway, love your work space, and your blog, and your voice, which is always authentic and very you. xx

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