Creating a cozy hearth for the family
Jaclyn Kennison is a freelance writer living and playing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She owns and manages an art gallery and event venue between fits of shopping and redecorating.
My journey uncovering my inner tree hugger began when I was a child, but blossomed into its full glory the year I went through a significant personal crisis. After a series of less-than-ideal living situations, I finally got to move into an apartment of my own again, and my mind spun with ideas on how to feed my connection to the earth and design a home that was as gentle to the earth I loved as possible. To be fair, I may have taken the idea a bit too far; I was contemplating a way to cover all the floors in my new place with grass. Real, growing, would-have-to-mow-it-with-scissors grass.
As I matured and my bring-the-outdoors-in design style met a more conventional balance with my treehugging morals, I abandoned the idea of cultivating Kentucy bluegrass on the floors of my apartment and turned to other ways to bring the outdoors in. I still held on to the fantasy that I could create outdoor themes in my home; a rainforest in the bathroom, a mountain woodland scene in the living room, a desert in the kitchen and a midnight garden in the bedroom.
The bedroom decor was, as if often the case, the last to gain my full attention. I imagined little touches of silver and white mixed in with dark shades of blue, purple and gray. There would be little vining plants with delicate white flowers climbing the walls and I would sleep under the dipping branches of a willow tree. While a willow tree in the bedroom was too much akin to grass on the floor, I did have an idea. My plan was to make a “headboard” out of birch trees whose branches were forced to curve over the bed by the ceiling. I still hadn't started the project until earlier this year, when laziness (oddly) spurned my creativity.
My Aspen tree headboard. Photo By Jaci Kennison.
This year, I made my holiday tree out of the broad, fallen branch of an aspen tree. As January faded into February I faced the daunting task of disposing of my tree. I hauled the tiny tree down the narrow stairs of my apartment building fighting branches and handrails, and just as I approached the front door, it occurred to me that I held in my hand exactly what I had wanted in my bedroom for years. I carefully negotiated a turn in the stairwell and hauled my Christmas tree back up to my apartment. I used a tightly knit stack of slate to anchor the base of the tree in place at the head of my bed. It isn’t exactly what I was hoping for, yet, but it will be. I will collect more branches and sink them into small pots filled with hempcrete. Concrete could be used too, of course, or pots filled with heavy stones. I intend to collect taller branches to create the over-arching effect and line them along the entirety of the wall where the bed is positioned. My plan is to suspend small stones, crystals or ribbons from the branches according to the seasons—or my particular mood. While this project is obviously not for everyone, it is a beautiful way to bring a bit of the outdoors in, cover an otherwise stark wall, and provide a lovely backdrop for the bed. It is also a great way to wake up in the morning, under the slender limbs of an aspen tree.