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If These Walls Could Talk

The Haven of Home

12/01/2009 - As we settle more deeply into winter, our homes become a sanctuary. The long hours of outer darkness enhance the warm glow inside. Tis the season for making the most of our the best attributes of our houses.

It's important to admit to yourself how your family actually spends it's time. It's silly to have space wasted on lavish areas for entertaining guests if you mostly spend your evenings curled up in front of the TV. Remember, the home is primarily to be designed and decorated for its real occupants--- not occasional guests.

For many, the home theatre, game room, or computer work station becomes the hub of the house. The investment in electronics and comfortable furniture for these areas is definitely justified by the amount of use these areas receive.

For others, winter is the season that provides the quiet time necessary for private pursuits and creative passions. The sewing room, workshop, writing bench, gourmet kitchen, or library provides a refuge away from the stress of daily demands. Virginia Wolf expressed this as she wrote of a place to "dream over books… and let the line of thought dip deeper into the stream".

Often, only a small niche is needed to create a little quiet space for oneself. The architecture of older houses provides nooks and crannies everywhere. In recent years, many new homes have been designed with these same amenities--- bays, dormer windows and such. It's easy to take an architectural quirk and turn it into a favorite haven. Of her spot in the sun, Louisa May Alcott wrote "a little kingdom I possess, where thoughts and feelings dwell".

In a more modern home it is only a little more difficult to carve out that little kingdom. One idea would be to enclose a porch to create a sunroom. Converting a garage or reclaiming unused attic space are other ways of finding space for pursuits that require fairly large amounts of space. Sometimes all that's needed is a tiny bit of room. One idea for this is to use a decorative folding screen to separate a corner from the rest of a main room.

Think about areas of your home that are seldom actually used. Perhaps they can serve double duty. Dining rooms are for some families the least used area of the house. Formal living rooms are another area that may see little use.

We don't like the idea of not having a place to entertain, but one thing to keep in mind is that guests usually are fascinated by areas of a friend's home that give insight into that friend's personality. Your books and writing implements ARE décor. The exquisite tools used by a chef or craftsman represent amazingly interesting collections when displayed rather than stowed. By using our homes for our real interests, we create much more inviting places.

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