Almost ten years ago, in mid-2005, we relocated from the NYC area to South Carolina, and started shopping for a house. We saw a style we loved, and found a contractor to custom-build it on our land.
DH and I each made a list of the must-have features we wanted in our new house. On his list were a balcony and lots of land. On my list were separate bathrooms, and a room dedicated to tea: my own private tea room.
The model we chose had an option for a “bonus room” – what used to be called a study or den: an extra room off the living room with a door but no closet. For about as long as I can remember I had also wanted a library, a whole room filled with books. Rather than having them in separate rooms, we combined the two into a library/tea room. It seemed natural to put tea and books together.
We visited the site frequently during construction. One day I walked into the partially-built house – essentially just the foundation and the frame – and realized that for the first time I was standing in my very own tea room.
A few weeks after we moved in we built cherry wood bookshelves around half the room. These hold books as well as tea and tea “things.” A local shop carries beautiful sea grass baskets in a wide assortment of sizes and shapes; about a dozen of these are now filled with teas, tablecloths, and various other items. And a large floor basket is stuffed with tea cozies.
Windows on three sides look out on our front, side, and back yards – well, actually our woods. Ottomans at two of the windows serve as window seats. Thermal draperies in a sage and burgundy cabbage rose pattern, along with the bookcases lining the walls, keep the room cool in summer and toasty warm in winter.
A sofa, a few serving tables, a teapot “tuffet,” stacking wooden storage boxes embellished with hand-painted cabbage roses – the smallest of which holds oolongs, white teas, and the occasional kitty — and a chair that converts to a library step complete the furnishings.
Over the years that we’ve been here, my collection of tea “things” has expanded beyond the tea room to fill a couple of floor cabinets and a wall cabinet in the adjacent living room. One of these days I’ll give away a few books to make room for more tea ware. Maybe.
My tea room is a refuge for solitary teatimes, for sharing “girlfriend” tea, and for weekend mornings to enjoy tea with my dear husband. Where we can look out at birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer, our fruit trees and our flower gardens. Or curl up with a good book. On pleasant spring or autumn days we might go outside on the balcony with our afternoon cups, but mornings are reserved at our own private tea room. (We got all our other “must-haves” too!)
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