How to Create Your Own Private Space at Home

Toronto Life
Private Space by TaC Studios Architects
Design by TaC Studios Architects

It's important to spend some time alone, but you might wonder just how much, how often, and how long you should dip out. What are the benefits of isolating yourself from the world once in a while? How can you do this in a house full of people? How do you find some time alone without becoming lonely? Do you spend enough time alone? When you live in a household with at least one other person, these are just some of the many questions about being alone that pop into your head every now and then. This article answers these important questions. You’ll also find out how to deal with potential negative feelings you might have about your desire for a bit of you time.

A Place Just for You

Each of us needs a space to be alone. For some, it’s those ten minutes in the shower when you’re not afraid to sing, but most people need something more — a place to hide from everybody, a place just for us. We all love spending time with family. However, there are times when we need to stay alone with our thoughts.

Firstly, each individual has to figure out what she wants to do in her new sanctuary and adjust her plan accordingly.

Private Space by Sarah Susanka FAIA
Tranquility by Sarah Susanka

If you love reading, you’re probably looking for a quiet corner where you can sit down with a good book and a drink for a few hours. This should be fairly easy. A quiet corner of a bedroom or a study away from phones and computers will serve you just right. You should make sure that your armchair always faces windows. However, make sure that your view is soothing rather than distracting — this will make your reading room the ideal sanctuary. Let everyone in the house know that you’re going to spend an hour or two alone with your book, and lock the door if anyone's likely to disturb you.

If you’re a fan of sleeping and you prefer the Spanish tradition of having siestas, you need almost the same features in your private retreat as reading fans. However, you have to realize that you’re never going to fall asleep with your children in the house. Ask your partner or older child to take all the kids out for an hour or two while you doze off on your own. Don’t forget to be compassionate and return the favour! Remember, we all have very similar needs.

Room Divider by Grace Home Design Inc
Room Divider by Grace Home Design Inc.

Some of us only truly relax while doing something we really love. Hobbies are a perfect medium for letting off some steam. Hobbies help people get away from day-to-day reality and enter into a world they fully control. One of the most popular hobbies to pick up for your alone time is writing. (Although there are some pretty good arguments why writing shouldn't be considered a hobby). Writing doesn’t require much in terms of space. A small writing desk and a comfortable chair in the corner of your bedroom or a separate little room designated just for writing is exactly what you need. If you don’t have a separate space, make sure to use an appropriate divider screen to shield yourself from distractions. If you like writing on a computer, you can do that as well. However, you get distracted a hundred times less with a beautiful old-timey typewriter or just with simple handwriting.

How to Decorate Your Private Space

This section doesn't need to be very extensive. It's well known that decor should maintain a certain orderliness to soothe a person and to influence him positively. The second part of this sentiment is undeniably true: decorations do have a strong influence on us. However, the fact that each and every one of us has a very specific personality is important as well. This can lead only to one conclusion, and that is don’t let anyone influence you when it comes to decorating your private space! 

Reading Nok by Treasurbites Studio
Reading Nok by Treasurbite Studio

Do whatever you feel you need and want to do. This is the opportunity to build a place where you can bring together all your personal treasures that make you feel good. (Your old hockey stick, your first diploma, the lamp your spouse hates but you love, your favourite books or comic book collection, and so on.) A nice idea is to have some pictures of your loved ones framed and display them somewhere close to you, so you can always remember that this is the place you visit to rest and recharge — but not to be lonely. These pictures might also help your family and friends understand that you're not trying to run from them (at least not for longer than two hours), but rather that they are an important part of your life wherever you are. (Scroll down for more on how to overcome feeling guilty when you need to be alone.)

Family Photos by Marie Burgos Design
Family Photos Ideas by Marie Burgos Design

What Are the Benefits of Some Alone Time? 

Solitude has undeniably positive effects. It helps us achieve better results in our everyday lives and shields us from burnouts. Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D., a psychologist and the author of a book called High Octane Women, says:

In today's constantly connected world, finding solitude has become a lost art. In fact, Western culture tends to equate a desire for solitude with people who are lonely, sad, or have antisocial tendencies. But seeking solitude can actually be quite healthy. In fact, there are many physical and psychological benefits to spending time alone. 

  • Spending some time alone boosts your attention span, productivity, and creativity. When you’re free of all the daily distraction, according to Doctor Bourg Carter, you're able to think much more clearly. This change will positively influence your working time, letting you get your work done faster.
  • Solitude also positively influences conflict resolution and enhances our relationships. When there is no external information disrupting your thinking process, you’re much more prone to solving your problems without any major emotional distress.
  • Psychology Today also argues:

When you're a part of a group, you're more likely to go along with what the group is doing or thinking, which isn't always the actions you would take or the decisions you would make if you were on your own. Solitude gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice.

How to Justify Your Solitude 

This is easier said than done. That’s what pops into almost everybody’s mind when they read this article. It’s understandable that you can’t even begin to imagine demanding some time for yourself. With the long hours you spend at work, it seems incredibly selfish to demand some alone time, shutting out your lovely partner, children, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews (and hundreds of other family members) and all the friends you love. Some people feel like they are betraying those closest to them. Doctor Carter refutes these arguments and emphasizes that we need to let go of the guilt from enjoying time alone.

Private Space by Glenn Gissler Design
Enjoy Your Time by Glenn Gissler Design

Guilt negates the positive effects of your private space and of spending time in it. You have to realize that as a result, the benefits of spending some time by yourself make you a nicer person to be around so that you can engage in your social activities more effectively. The happier mindset that you can achieve by enjoying a quiet place just for you should not make you question your choice. You’ll see that people around you won’t mind. However, you have to prepare them. Take time to explain to everybody in the household the rules of your private space and why you need it. And of course, support them in setting up their own private spaces in the house.

Reassure these people that you're still there for them, but in order to be there for them over the long haul, you also have to also take care of yourself.

Be careful not to start spending too much time separating yourself from your family. It's equally important to spend time together in traditionally shared spaces like the kitchen, dining room, and living room.

Photo Credits:

TaC Studios Architecture

Sarah Susanka

Grace Home Design

Joe Schmelzer, Treasurebite Studio

Marie Burgos Design

Glenn Gissler Design

2 thoughts on “How to Create Your Own Private Space at Home

April 2, 2014 at 9:54 am

I would appreciate to let me know who is the author of the beautiful painting you have in this wall (I mean the first picture of this page)
Thanks a lot for your attention, I´m from Chile, South America.


April 3, 2014 at 3:33 am
Jamie Sarner says:

Hello Isabel,
Unfortunately I don’t know who is the author of the painting. But I can tell you, that the first photo is from home of Cara Cummins – principal in, architect and designer. You can find the painting also in the interview with Cara here:
Best regards,

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