When you have children, the heart and soul of the house is often evident in its liveliness - in the constant ebb and flow of those children and their friends.
That changes when they grow up, at least it did for us. All our kids are now in their twenties. Two are living overseas and the youngest has also launched, for all intents and purposes, shifting the center of his life to college in Richmond Virginia. For a while it was almost as though we ought to put velvet ropes across their empty bedroom doorways. We rattled around a little bit - not really using three of the rooms, not really sure how to use them, or even if we should.
To rediscover the soul of your home is imperative - and we did just this a couple of weeks ago - with a library.
The largest room in our house has always been our bedroom. My desk is up one end, looking out of a large bow window. It's a beautiful place to wake up, but over the cold winter months we decided to move into one of the smaller and warmer bedrooms.
Without the bed in it, this other purpose suggested itself. It would involve a lot of heavy lifting, the carting of books and shelves, navigating a narrow stairwell with enormous pieces of furniture, from the living room, and other places. And one hell of a lot of dusting. It's incredible what can get lost behind a bookcase.
Then of course after moving the bookcases we would have to rethink and rearrange the rooms that had relinquished all their books. What to do with the wall space? We'd have to move paintings and rehang them - and we'd have to move chairs.
Two weeks ago, we took most of Saturday morning in the conversion. Ever since we've finished all the bits and pieces.
It has been 100% worth it. A library, says Plato, is the soul of a house. And this one has completely transformed how we live in the space. The nest is no longer empty! When I'm writing now, I'm surrounded by the works, by the heart and soul and mind of other writers across the ages. I'm in the best of company.
If you have an empty nest, why not try it? The room doesn't have to be large. It simply has to be filled with books. The bookcases don't have to match. Swaying stacks and a chair to curl up in, there with the quiet of other voices, must simply take over the purpose of that space.
Nothing is worse than stagnation. Constancy is beautiful, but with new ways of breathing it. That's what a library does for your home. I highly recommend it.