I had an enlightening moment one morning. I routinely need to rest after showers, and often use shortcuts to save me time and energy when I’m showering. Even so, by the time I get to applying make-up in the mornings, I’m often exhausted. I had formed a habit of doing my make-up sitting cross-legged on our bedroom floor in front of the mirror that hangs on our door. One morning, though, I just didn’t feel like sitting on the floor. I had taken a quick shower and dry shampooed my hair, and assumed I had saved enough energy to allow me to follow my remission routine: standing by my dresser and using my wall-hung mirror. It only takes me five to ten minutes to do my make-up, so I stood.
It was two hours before I recovered. Two hours.
And that’s the thing about chronic illness, isn’t it? It’s not the big things that knock us out. We plan carefully for those. It’s the simple little things. And it’s why we are constantly making calculations in our minds about how much energy things will require, planning out every step we take to minimize effort, and too often (as I discovered), miscalculating and paying the price.
If you are like me and need a solution for things like doing your hair and make-up (without sitting cross-legged on your floor!), here are some simple options to try at home.
The most straightforward option, of course, is a traditional vanity. They come in literally all shapes, sizes, and styles. There are a few things you might want to look for, though. First, a comfortable seat. Make sure you choose one that is easy to pull out or push in, that is comfortable, and that is sturdy. If you live with back pain or have weakness, it might be a good idea to choose a seat with a back for added support.
Second, consider a piece with plenty of storage. Having everything you need right at hand will minimize reaching or getting up, which saves you valuable energy for things that matter more. A set like this has several sets of drawers that would make it easy to organize your cosmetics. If you plan to do your hair here as well, you might want to look for something with room to store hair product bottles, blow-dryers, straighteners, or other things you use.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to design your bathroom around your needs, an option like this might be a good idea. A lowered countertop with space for a stool gives you a place to get ready while staying seated. Having drawers nearby within easy reach will give you a place to store all of your cosmetics and hair products and minimize your effort. There are many ways to add an outlet to a drawer, so that your dryers or straighteners can be plugged in easily without standing to reach an outlet on the wall. This is also extremely helpful if you use a wheelchair, as it puts everything you need at a height that is easily accessible.
There are several reasons why a wall-mounted vanity might be a good option for you. If you have limited floor space, a system like this may take up less room than a traditional piece of furniture. If you have a wall within close proximity to your bed, it may be possible to do your makeup from the edge of the bed using a wall-mounted piece. And if you use a wheelchair, something like this is ideal as it allows you to access the vanity easily with nothing in the way, and can be mounted at any height you choose.
A vanity like this one provides plenty of storage for everything you need. When you are finished, it closes down to keep everything concealed and clean and looks like a floating shelf on the wall.
Another option, if your space is narrow, is a system like this. The drop-down table will give you plenty of room to set your things as you get ready, and the shelves provide the necessary storage. When you are finished, you can close it back up and the whole piece only takes up a small amount of space. This system is also wheelchair-friendly and can be mounted at any height.
While you could purchase a piece that’s meant as a vanity, such as this one, it’s also possible to get creative and find pieces that can be adapted. A wall-hanging desk, for example, can be fitted with a mirror and work similarly. Or a small bar cabinet with fold-down ledge could function well. Many times, pieces like these can be found secondhand and are less expensive.
Another extremely easy solution is to simply hang a wall shelf. This can be placed at any height so that it’s easily accessible. It takes up very little space, so it works in a narrow bedroom. And since there’s nothing underneath, you can easily add a stool or roll up in a wheelchair. While this doesn’t provide any concealed storage, there is plenty of room on the shelf for boxes or baskets with cosmetics. Or, if you keep your make-up in a bag, consider hanging a hook on the wall underneath or nearby to hang the bag within easy reach. Then simply hang a mirror above the shelf.
The space in my bedroom is extremely limited, and this is the option I have been considering. I keep my make-up in a box that I can carry with me to the bathroom (or the floor!), so it would not be difficult to set it on the shelf. I’ve even considered a swing-out stool that could be mounted on the wall underneath, then kept out of the way when not in use. A shelf is by far the least expensive option!
I am always in favor of pieces that are inexpensive and do double duty. After all, we are all on a budget! If you spend a lot of time in bed, the best solution may be something like a lap desk. Not only will you be able to use it to apply make-up and do your hair (should you so choose), but it will also be invaluable for reading, using a laptop or tablet, writing, coloring, or anything else you might choose to do from bed. There are many options available.
If you need storage for your cosmetics, I recommend choosing a desk like this with a drawer that can be easily accessed and storage beneath the desktop itself. You could also keep a cosmetic bag nearby with all of your supplies in easy reach. Consider a clip-on mirror such as the one shown below to help you see what you are doing.
Similarly, if you spend time in a wheelchair, you could consider a desktop surface that can be attached, or a wide lap desk that can be laid across the arm rests. It’s possible to find options with built-in storage, or keep a cosmetic bag or box handy. The clip-on mirror could be easily attached to the edge so that you can clearly see what you are doing.
Hopefully these options gave you some ideas to find workable solutions for your own home. Save your spoons for the things that really matter!