"You Always Need a Wall": Distilling a Home Down to the Essentials

"You Always Need a Wall": Distilling a Home Down to the Essentials

Tess Wilson
Jan 9, 2013

"My requirements: You need a wall — you always need a wall. You need a table. You would like to have someplace to put things where you don't look at them all the time. I also need access to hot tea — often peppermint." That was the artist Jasper Johns telling Vogue what he requires in a studio — but I think it's a great exercise for all of us.

The part that really got to me was "someplace to put things where you don't look at them all the time". Storage is such a priority for so many of us, especially those of us who live in tiny places, but I've never thought about it in such clean, precise terms. No matter how much stuff you're lucky enough to have, or how nice that stuff is, it's nice to not have to look at it all the time. Well said, Jasper Johns! (Unfortunately, the Vogue story is not available online, but it is in the December issue if you happen upon it.) Now, moving on to our own homes…

How would you describe the basics you need/crave in a home? I think this is an especially valuable exercise for people about to move in together. Do your priorities, essentials, and basics line up? Is your home-to-be large or flexible enough to accommodate both of your most basic wishes, and if not, how will you compromise? What are you hoping for from your home?

My wishlist surely won't be as elegant as Mr. Johns', but here goes: Places to put all my supplies (books, art materials, tools) where they are easily accessible and easily put away. A space that's always available for projects, whether that's a work table, coffee table, or just the floor. Plenty of light, and especially, a spot by a window to sit and read (I wished for that for years and it is just as glorious as I imagined). Enough empty space to move freely, without having to constantly step over and around things… and the discipline to keep said space clear. I think it comes down to wanting my home to have possibilities. If I need to have a dance party, or wrap a pile of presents, or make fresh pasta, or paint a canvas, or screen print t-shirts, I'd like to have a home that's ready for all that and more, no matter how small and humble it may be. What about you?

(Image: Faith Durand for Hot Drink for Summer Evenings: Lemon Verbena Tisane)

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