Spaces: An unlikely oasis in the busiest part of the house

Written by and Photography by Charla in Spaces

outdoor spaces - ikea table outside the kitchen door

The cliche phrase “hiding in plain sight” could not have been more true when our newest nook – a new favorite of our outdoor spaces – appeared in front of us. Sometimes it takes just a little push. In this case, I brought my basic Ikea table and chairs (Tarno bistro set, $49.99) from a neglected corner of my claustrophobic backyard and set it up in an unlikely corner of Charla’s backyard.

It turns out that we have come up with a number of different spaces where we like to hang out. Not for any reason other than it suits us in the moment, and really, it just seems like a good place to have our morning coffee or evening wine. And why not have more than one space? Variety – in homes, trips, meals and relationships – keeps things interesting.

We have already looked at one space in the far corner of Charla’s yard. This one is much closer. So close, in fact, that it is right outside the the door going from her kitchen to the yard. This is a very high traffic, inconvenient and besides-the-point location that you would barely glance at as you walk between the kitchen and the outdoor firepit, the barbecue, or even just to get the laundry.

So why does this space work so well? It is outside (point: 1), in an area with cross breezes (point: 2), and immediately next to the kitchen so that whoever is cooking – i.e., me – has quick access to the stove and to whatever guests are floating around waiting for food (point: 3).


This unremarkable space never came alive and never mattered much until that Ikea table set found its place, topped with a simple mason jar of flowers and some votive candles ($5.99 for a 24-pack at Ikea). But with everything together, it is my new favorite hangout. For now.


I am sure that soon enough we will find our way back to our previous nook, or to the backyard fire pit, or the front porch.

Or somewhere else entirely. You see, Charla recently received an eviction notice because the owners of her building are moving their own family in. The downside of renting has reared its head in an emotionally wrenching moment and an episode of spectacularly difficult timing. At a minimum, the journey in search of that perfect space is about to start all over again.

Why did that weird, uncomfortable space work so well? After all, those Ikea chairs and that table work well enough but they do not function well for for more than three people or for more than 30 minutes.

Maybe your best space is what evokes that feeling we all want so much: of belonging, of togetherness, of being at peace with yourself, with the world, and with whatever you are drinking at the moment.

Those moments are fleeting and precious. They flit around like butterflies from tree to branch to leaf and back again. Just like our next meal, our next comfortable space, our next place to live: it is maybe just a matter of finding it.