Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sweet Spot HOME with Robin MacArthur

My dear friend Robin MacArthur is an inspiration in many ways from the music she makes, words she writes, her natural and relaxed parenting, and her devotion to maintaining a sense of self amidst it all. We are both big Pinterest fans, so when Robin encouraged me to check out Enhabiten's pins, I was happy to see some familiar spaces that I recognized as Robin's sweet home in Marlboro, Vermont. 

I found a full post and interview on Enhabiten, and was so inspired that I asked owner Liane permission to repost part of the interview here. Read the full interview with more pics here

I've always been fascinated by how people choose to creatively express themselves within their homes. It's important for me to have a home that feels welcoming, cozy and full of art. As Oprah says, "Surround yourself with beauty and you will feel beautiful". What is beauty to you? What makes you feel good in your home? Do you feel like you are in your sweet spot in your home? If not, what can you do to make it feel good to you?

Interview with Robin MacArthur, text and photos by Liane of Enhabiten

what can you tell me about the building and decoration of your house? 
Our house has been an ad-hoc creation that seems to reflect the stages of my life to a T. It began with a small, one room cabin I built with my dad when I was sixteen. It was breezy and full of salvaged windows and sat on crooked stumps and piles of rock. I would go there to drink wine with friends and sleep with boyfriends and write poetry and smoke cigarettes by myself. It was perfection. At twenty-five my boyfriend (now husband Ty) and I were living in New York but wanted to have a place to return to for all seasons of the year, so we added on another small rectangle that was insulated. 
It was still funky--the electricity came from a two-hundred-foot extension cord that ran through the woods, the windows were old breezy single-panes, and there was no running water, just an outhouse and a stinky bucket under the sink. Also perfection! We spent a summers and a few winters there, then moved to Philadelphia. At twenty-nine we decided we wanted to have a baby and that we wanted to raise that baby in the woods on the land where i was born. So addition number three: this time with a septic system and real electricity and some double-pane windows. We just got a dishwasher, which makes our house verifiably bourgeois. 

can you tell me about your writing and reading?  
Books. I love books, and read probably six in a month. I have an MFA in fiction writing and though I usually devour fiction, the last four months I've been after much more lyrical things, tied to what's real. My favorites right now are Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Gtting Lost, Megan Mayhew Bergman's Birds of a Lesser Paradise, Terry Tempest Williams' When Women Were Birds, and poetry, which I've been reading a lot of: Gary Snyder and Sharon Olds and Mary Ruefle, at the moment, all of whom feel like old friends who crawl into bed with me when I curl up to read. My favorite poem right now is Olds' New Mother, which if you've ever given birth, (which I'm about to, for the second time), might mean something to you. "The first time you're broken, you don't know you'll be healed again, better than before." 

how does music fit into your life?  tell me about your relationship with your grandmother and her music.  what music are you currently listening to?
Although I have many musician friends for whom music is the thing of their lives, it's not at all like that for me. In order to rid myself of the anxiety of wondering how I can make room for all my passions, I've starting thinking of my life as a quilt of sorts, which is, fittingly, a very feminine art form. Say, a log-cabin design, with repeated colors and patterns. Music is one of those patterns and colors in my life. Playing it around the house might be a deep gray color--I was raised in a family of folkies and so banjo and guitar around the wood stove feel like a cat purring on one's lap. Performing is the bright red one--the time when I get to don tight jeans and cowboy boots and eye-liner and leave my daughter with my parents and stand up under lights and feel radically young again. The rest of my life is quite earthy and domestic--a vegetable garden, mothering, cooking, writing from home during naps. For those reasons I desperately need those splashes of Red Heart Red. 

My grandmother, Margaret MacArthur, lived in the farmhouse up the road from our cabin and made a career for herself as a touring folk-singer. She was also a mother of five who grew a huge vegetable garden, baked twenty loaves of whole-wheat bread a week, and filled her cellar with canned goods each summer. Her life was a rich, tangled, idiosyncratic blossoming quilt too, and for that I'll always be grateful to her for paving the way. 
I'm currently listening to the music of friends, most of whom live in faraway cities. I miss them and being around communities of musicians, so I keep finding myself listening to their tunes: Birdie Busch, Sam Amidon, Jack Ohly, Soltero, Dr. Dog, The Buried Beds...I could go on. 

what makes you happy? what makes you sad?
The indomitable spirit of my daughter makes me unbearably happy. As she and I like to say to one another, "It's just too much! I just love you too much!" Spending time alone also makes me happy. Without those punctuations of time where I can sit and think and write and create I go crazy and get flustered and turn sad. Which I guess answers your next question. The state of the world also makes me unbearably sad. Which is one of the reasons I decided to have children; I needed a way to not sit around being sad all the time. 

what are your idiosyncrasies?  what makes you you? 
It might be better if my husband answered this one, but I'll try. My grandmother, the folk singer, has a heart-shaped pink bathtub jacuzzi-style bathtub in the upstairs bathroom of her muted, antiques-filled 1803 farmhouse. That bathtub has always exemplified, to me, the wonderful idiosyncracies of her untamable heart. I have a claw foot bathtub, which is not at all radical, but in my heart I still dream of being a hairdresser in a trailer in the desert somewhere, and that dream is essential to my understanding of what makes me me. 

Want to learn more about Robin and Liane?
Listen to Robins' music at Red Heart the Ticker
Read her blog at Woodbird
Check out Liane's cool Etsy shop and come back soon for a follow up interview with her on this series of SWEET SPOT HOME. Thanks for stopping by! 


  1. Hi Desha, I really enjoyed this interview and yes my home reflects me very well I think and is definitely my happy, pretty space where I express myself creatively despite not being very crafty or having any access to markets or second hand shops living rurally as I do in Ireland : ) Looking forward to following and reading more...

  2. Hi Jane! I lived in Galway for half a year, so I know a bit about Ireland. Love it. Too bad there aren't many thrift stores, but I bet the landscape is lovely. Do you have any pics of your house?

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Desha. Now I'd like to hear you answer the same questions about your home & lifestyle! xo R

  4. Yes mam, Robin! That will be coming one of these days :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...