Styling and photography by TRICIA SAROYA
This is where we first meet Shakespeare’s Titania: deep in the ancient forest, lying on her floral bower of sunny-hued oxlip and nodding violet, surrounded by wild thyme. A mist creeps beneath the luscious woodbine canopy that arches over her slumbering form. Her skin glints in the moonlight. Her eyes flit beneath her closed lids. Here and there fireflies dance like tiny stars, sometimes landing on the luxurious foliage that surrounds and protects the sleeping queen.
Were she to awaken, she’d alight on a downy soft carpet of moss and lichen to address—and dazzle—her faerie court. Instead she sleeps on, the light breeze bringing with it the scent of the sweet musk roses and blooming eglantine.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such a place for ourselves, to retreat to the enchanted (yet ultra-glam) forest when we need a respite? Luckily, we can create our own faerie hideaways fit for a queen, no matter where we are—and even indulge in some faerie queen glamping.
Artist Tricia Saroya is an expert at creating magical spaces on the fly (and has done so for several previous issues of Enchanted Living, as well as for the Faerie Handbook, Mermaid Handbook, and Unicorn Handbook, not to mention countless fairy-tale weddings). She created the two ideas you see here as some Titania-esque inspiration, but you can use your imagination to craft your own faerie queen vibe.
First, if you have some space in your backyard or even a corner of your city apartment, you can conjure your own royal haven. The look and location are entirely up to you.
“My entire home is like the vignettes that I create,” Saroya says. “I choose to be surrounded, as much as is humanly possible, by all things that bring me inspiration. I’m about the polar opposite of Marie Kondo. For me, more is better. I have beautiful rugs and textiles and stacks of books and mystical things around me. I encourage people to do whatever it is that helps them step into that place of magical possibilities. Because that’s them, that’s their soul, that’s who they really are.”
A faerie queen who finds inspiration in Saroya’s lush, lavish imagery might begin building an alfresco boudoir by searching out a piece of furniture that practically demands a lazy afternoon of luxuriating. Explore swap meets and estate sales for some kind of outdoor chaise lounge or perhaps a fat, pillowy wicker chair and footstool—anything that allows you to sink within its environs and deeply relax.
Then add layer upon layer of gauzy textiles, which can be as straightforward as mosquito netting or scrim—a sheer, inexpensive cotton material easily found online. If you have a tent-type frame, festoon the fabric around and over it. Lacking that, you can staple fabric to the top of your backyard fence or wall, pulling it out and away from the structure and fixing it to the ground with a post.
The main thing, Saroya says, is to drape material everywhere “so you have these rich, luxurious folds of fabric that just puddle on the ground. And then repeat that kind of feeling on the chaise lounge or whatever you’re working with—layers of fabric. Then you can find inexpensive carpets on Craigslist or in thrift stores. I put a little piece of plastic down on the ground and place the carpet on top of it.” Equally important are the twinkle lights, of course, modern-day will-o’-the-wisps. “They’re magical. They take us back to being a kid, to Christmas trees, to Disneyland, to faerie lights. The first time I ever saw fireflies I just about lost my mind!” Saroya says.
You might even create an indoor sanctuary decorated with twinkle lights and gauzy fabric—in a corner of your house, in your boudoir, even in your bathroom. Light candles. Bring the natural world indoors with plants like climbing ivy. Let your imagination run wild as you design your queenly escape.
If you prefer your faerie glamour on the move, pack up some mosquito netting; a small, simple carpet or woven mat (rattan works well); and a few pillows and head out to a local park or public forest. Drape the netting over a tree, scatter the pillows over the carpet, and recline, gazing at the sky as you allow your thoughts to ramble in any direction they choose.
That’s what Grace Nuth, Enchanted Living’s senior editor, does when planning her ideal retreat. In her mind’s eye she sees it on a friend’s property, which abuts the Olentangy River in Ohio. She imagines a bell tent painted in symbols and shapes sacred to her, like foxes and hares. Celtic knots, too. Outside the tent is a dusky, muted gray, but inside? She envisions layers of velvet blankets and pillows heaped upon an air mattress, with rugs scattered beneath—all of it, every bit, in rich, vibrant hues.
“I think it would be wonderful,” Nuth says, “if the outside would blend in with nature and then you open up the tent doors and inside you see a jewel box of deep reds and greens and purples, very sumptuous, medieval colors. And obviously you want some twinkle lights, but I also think twining vine would be beautiful around some of the tent poles. And I’d probably have a couple of wooden, X-frame, medieval-style folding chairs too.”
Elaborate or simple, indoors or out, crafting your faerie queen abode is about “being intentional about creating a magical space,” Saroya says. “It’s being conscious about creating a space that you physically step into, so that in your awareness you take a deep breath and settle in and daydream or do something that brings you joy—just taking a moment to connect in with your soul.”
What you do within your enchanted empire, even if nothing at all, is as important as the look of it. Sip tea from a lovely set like the one in Saroya’s photographs. Write letters in longhand to your loves. Bring faerie queen friends along, creating an entire encampment, and tell tall tales into the night. Sing songs to the forest and each other, or simply listen to nature’s music, the sound of the trees as they sway in the breeze, an owl’s hoot, the soft padding of a night creature as it passes by just out of reach of the campfire’s glow. Drink elderflower wine; eat small, sweet desserts and allow the crumbs to fall to your feet, feeding the forest floor.
Lisa Gill, Enchanted Living’s art director, says she would bring beautifully illustrated fairy-tale books to her special space and read them quietly to herself. “Another thing I would take,” she says, “would be some seed or nuts for the squirrels and the birds. And if I were lucky, I’d see a deer or something else—raccoons or a little fox, who knows? I like to just observe and not disturb wildlife, so I would just be as quiet as possible out there in my beautiful little bed with my velvet pillows, hoping to invite some magic into that scenario.”
You might also consider a few precious moments of meditation. Bring some essential oils with you, natural scents like lavender or geranium, peppermint or cinnamon, to aid in relaxation and help keep the biting insects at bay. Mist the air, or spray the oils into a silk handkerchief and inhale deeply. Himalayan salt balls, when warmed in a campfire, can be rolled underfoot, a treat for aching hiker’s feet. Or simply dip your toes into a nearby creek for a cooling, soothing respite.
As you dress your queenly chamber, don’t forget to pay equal heed to how you dress yourself. This is not a place for binding blue jeans or scratchy sweaters, says Enchanted Living editorial consultant Rona Berg. “I would envision myself in a very soft, flowy, organic cotton nightshirt or something like that. Some gorgeous fabric that is going to drape beautifully and just give me texture. You want to bring a very soft throw, maybe something that is warm like an angora, or velvet. In the spring, maybe an organic cotton. Things that you can really wrap yourself in and hug and cuddle yourself.”
Suitably adorned, tucked within the place you dreamed of, it’s time to finally and simply stop. “There’s nothing wrong with taking a moment in quiet reflection or to enjoy something,” Saroya says. “It invites a sense of calm and peace inside and lightens up the stress levels. It brings down your cortisols and allows you to breathe deeply. It gives you an opportunity to connect with your intentions, with your intuitions, with a deeper knowing inside yourself.”
It’s in doing this, Saroya continues, that you start noticing the world around you, in all its specific beauty, and “that’s when you see magic. If you don’t slow down and take the time to notice magic, you’ll never see it. It’s there with you, all the time around you. If you want to call it faeries, God, spirit—whatever! It wants to play with you! This world is delightful and beautiful, and we’re so busy running that we don’t stop to look and take it in. Creating an intentional place to do this as often as you can, to me, is just as important as exercise or brushing my teeth. It’s essential for a life that’s full of love and a life well lived.”
Before creating your faerie queen hideaway in a public space, please check regulations regarding camping, the use of fire, alcohol, etc. Even queens have to follow a few rules.
Don’t feel quite ready to create your own faerie queen boudoir? There are a host of luxe camping rentals that have done it for you.
Sandy Pines Campground
Tucked away in the chic coastal enclave of Kennebunkport, Maine, Sandy Pines lies within a sheltered beach forest boasting stunning sea views and refreshing ocean breezes. Quarters include large wood-framed glamping tents for couples and families complete with air conditioning, lighting, fire pits, and linens. Open mid-May through Mid-October. sandypinescamping.com
Glamping takes on a new meaning at this tony retreat in Big Sky, Montana. Located in the backcountry of the poetically named Moonlight Basin, Collective Yellowstone offers lush amenities—including 1,500 thread-count linens, down comforters, and designer-curated blankets as well as private, en suite bathrooms with rain-style showers, full flush toilets, and hot running water. In-tent massages are also available. collectiveretreats.com/retreat/collective-yellowstone
Dunton River Camp
This former cattle ranch in southwest Colorado offers posh safari-style tents set mere feet from the banks of the Dolores River. Goodies include an en suite bathroom with a six-foot soaker tub, double vanities, and towel warmers. Each tent comes with two mountain bikes with which to explore the camp’s 500 acres of untrammeled meadow and forest. duntondestinations.com/river-camp
Little Raccoon Key, Georgia
Perfect for anyone who has ever dreamed of getting away to their own private island, Little Raccoon Key is home to a single glamping tent on an ancient bivalve reef off the coast of Georgia. Accommodations consist of a 26-by-15-foot solar-powered canvas tent heated by a wood-burning stove and featuring a memory-foam mattress. Be sure to keep an eye out for pods of dolphins on the boat ride to the island and back. littleraccoonkey.com
Sinya on Lone Man Creek
Perched in the heart of Texas Hill Country, Sinya on Lone Man Creek offers a massive, safari-style tent for two. Look for one-of-a-kind comforts like a century-old claw-foot tub and hand-sanded pine floors, along with Turkish cotton towels and a king-size bed lined with a goose-down comforter and pillows. Don’t miss the spectacular hot tub on the back deck. hillcountrysinya.com