At Home with Baba Yaga
A Lair Tour
February 27, 2019 at 8:00 am
In this new series, POME has graciously sent their Hearth&Home reporters to seek out various witches of legend, to learn what we can from them about Good Lairkeeping and glean some insight into the ancient crone wisdom.
This time, your intrepid POMEreporters have ventured deep into the forests of Northern Russia to seek that fabled and ever-elusive home of Baba Yaga — the bony-legged babushka, the arch crone, the bone mother. Many riders have passed us on the road in: one dressed all in red, one dressed all in white, and one, whom we’re following now, dressed all in black. Is that a fence of human bone I see coming up? I think those are chicken legs! Yes, we’ve found it! Now, what we can learn At Home with Baba Yaga?
This is an actual Good Lairkeeping exclusive! Baba Yaga’s mobile home (#vanlife) moves through the forest, spinning on top of its giant chicken legs. When we arrived, we were behind the house. No matter which way we approached it, it turned around on its chicken legs, and we had no hope of reaching the door. Luckily, Jenny was actually able to use her degree for something, and remembered this catchy little incantation.
The hut’s rough-hewn walls are offset by partially shuttered windows, which blinked at us like eyes as it begrudgingly knelt to permit our entry. The blood-curdling screeching it used to herald our arrival can easily be replicated at home with modern technology. I think we very seriously considered waiting outside until she got home, but listen: it is SO COLD in Russia.
As soon as we were over the threshold, it became obvious that Baba Yaga has a LOT to teach us about small space living.
The hut is essentially one great room, which itself is mostly a kitchen. A proper Russian stove takes up A Lot of space. But, Baba Yaga is all about multifunctional appliances — the stove is not just for roasting the flesh of disobedient children; it also heats the home, and serves as a source of light.
And, as everyone knows, you need multiple sources of light when you’re decorating. Sconces, glowing skulls, floor lamps — you want to mix the heights of the light fixtures for the most flattering glow.
One of the most brilliant sources of light in the room came from a pendant light, hung in the corner by the top of the stove; it seemed to be a birdcage with a live Firebird in it! Upon closer inspection, this appeared to be functioning as her bedside lamp.
She sleeps on her stove, in an alcove above the hearth itself — for warmth, but also for convenience; from her perch atop the stove, she’s only arms-length from her impressive pantry if she needs a midnight snack. And isn’t that the beauty of small space living? Don’t we all wish every room was just our bedroom but with snacks?
Across from the stove there’s a sturdy table that doubles as a dining area and a work surface, where the disembodied hands of her servants prepare her meals. But, much of the available space is devoted to the samovar — a Russian tea pot. Russian tea is the real deal. Baba Yaga does her tea like she does everything: hardcore. Samovars brew super strong tea, which you then dilute with water to taste.
The living room is very simple. Baba Yaga only needs one chair, because she so rarely has visitors worthy of sitting down with her, but you could replicate the indoor-outdoor look at home with this green twill couch, in the color Atomic Moss.
Really, it’s more like a living nook than a living room. But, she uses the saved space to add to her luxurious bathroom. There is a small water closet in the corner (where we spotted and a pretty sweet waterPik — oral health and hygiene are important if you’re gnawing through bones on the regular), but the majority of the bathroom space is devoted to a personal-sized sauna, complete with a bundle of birch twigs called a venik. Hitting yourself with sticks is the new jade rolling, and you can always use the birch switch to set off a gorgeous statement vase.
What’s that scraping sound? Do you hear that? Oh gods, I think she’s home.
The recording gets pretty mangled after this — Baba Yaga is not fond of new technologies. As it turns out, she’s not really fond of reporters entering her home uninvited, either. We lost Kelly, but even though her bones are being used to pick her flesh from Baba Yaga’s iron teeth, we know that she would have wanted us to share our findings with you, dear reader.
So, the real takeaways here seem to be: no unitaskers in the kitchen, and don’t enter a witch’s home unannounced. (Be sure to check out our Patreon for transcripts of some of the lost audio, restored!)