Monday, January 22, 2007

Creating A Feeling of Home

I've been looking at pictures of rooms. Of course, they are done by designers, and are only intended for examples. It was really difficult to find anything that had all the elements of a real home where people spend time. That is why I find the blogs and sites where women take pictures of their own homes, so appealing. I find their ideas

fit in better with real home living. Many of the photos
in decorating magazines feature sophisticated architectural details that the ordinary homemaker will never have to deal with.

In reality, most people cannot afford the elaborate drapery or furnishings for their homes that many of these decorating sources portray. The hardware for such drapery is difficult to manage, especially those terrible drapery hooks. I gave up on that style long ago. A simple curtain of muslin, edged in fringe, can be made in just a few hours on a sewing machine, even without much skill in sewing.

Have you ever heard a realtor say that in order to get your house ready to sell, you should take down all personal photographs and collections? My friend who called me the other day informs me that it is not true. She said she heard a decorator say that on the contrary, photographs of a happy family, and their collections, if displayed nicely, make the potential buyer feel that they are in the home of a happy family.

We do not live in our homes hoping to increase their market value as much as we hope to increase the stability and loyalty of the family. Homes are not public places, and contrary to some thoughts on this subject, not everyone in the public is welcome to go in and out of private homes. There is a saying: "If I treat everyone the same, I treat no one special." This means that those who enter into homes are there because the family loves and trusts them, or have chosen them in a special way to extend kindness and hospitality. Houses can be arranged and decorated in such a way that they represent the family. They are an updated display of the family's character and talents.

Creating a feeling of home does not require that everything come from a furniture store or that anything matches. Mixing colors and styles can add to the homey feeling of a room.

Coziness is achieved by bringing furniture together in a close circle, rather than pushing it up against the walls. In this picture, the pathways are around the furniture rather than inbetween, so that one need not interrupt a person's conversation with another by walking in front of them on the way to another room.

I've been told by many homemakers that they are not very fond of wall to wall carpeting. I have grown to dislike it as well. It is a very poor investment, for the parts that are nailed closest to the walls never get any wear and tear, and the pathways that the family uses become worn down and unsightly. Wall-to-wall-carpets are difficult to sanitize. They are very, very expensive, and there is no return on this kind of investment. They also do not offer the housekeeper any variety in color because once they get one of those expensive things installed, they can't change the color or style for years and years. I noticed in some of these photographs that the floors are immitation hardwood, made of vinyl, with various rugs put down over it. These rugs can be washed in the machine and hung to dry. This is the way floor used to be covered, and it seems to be a returning trend.

Decorating sources:,22116,1097487,00.html&h=240&w=320&sz=39&hl=en&start=11&tbnid=A9uEooigG58XRM:&tbnh=89&tbnw=118&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcottage%2Bstyle%2Bdecorating%26svnum%3D50%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DN

Terry Willets "Creating a Scentsational Home" books have beautiful art work and ideas that do not require rennovation or expense.


Anonymous said...

Funny you should blog about this topic. If you watch HGTV at all (specifically Design to Sell), they will say, just as you mentioned, that in order to sell your home you need to take down the personal items.

There is a possibility we may be moving in the near future. I was torn about their advice, but am relieved to hear what you had to say. Taking down everything I love would depersonalize our home too much. I think I will need to find a healthy balance.


Carina Rose said...

Thanks for the post :)

I've found that, as a homemaker, it is so much easier and more delightful to keep up a beautiful and well decorated home than one that has no rhyme or reason and too much clutter.

Anonymous said...

Dearest lady Lydia,

I thoroughly agree with you concerning wall to wall carpeting. I've lived in houses with this and houses without. In my opinion, whoever thought up wall to wall carpeting for homes must have had rocks in their head! (smile) as a Guide Dog owner, the amount of hair that blows around in the air (even when she lives outside and is groomed regularly) is sometimes too much (during molting season, I can sweap three times a day and still pick up handfulls of soft, downy undercoat!!!! (smile); imagine if the downstairs living areas were carpeted!!! We've got ceramic tiles (laid by the original owners and carpet upstairs. Traffic areas are already pretty dodgy and that's only after five or so years with me only being here for a portion of that time after marrying.They're cream and show everything. Carpet dry cleaning is a must for health and sanitation (steam cleaning leaves them wet and nasty - whereas the dry cleaning using non toxic citrus-based solutions does the job) but its expensive! Even floorboards or slate have their problems. (floorboards need maintenance as they show traffic areas, scratch and need re-laquering every three or four years - my parents have them and i've lived in homes with them and slate shows up oil stains terribly. What I do love (having stayed in folks' homes who have this done) is a rendered, textured plaster or concrete - gorgeous, easy to clean and with rugs is warm under the feet. rugs can also be changed if one gets sick of them for a fraction of the price.Our home is a 'odds and ends' home that, if nicely decorated with lacework, a few ornaments, our nice china on the dresser and pictures looks a little nicer. One more thing; my pet peeve are those 'fabric' vertical blinds; you know the ones on the chain (even without a bottom chain, they're sooooo ugly! Timber venetians or verticals, though an investment, suit just about every decor style, are relatively easy to dust and maintain - very snappy, whether in a white, cane and lace decor, country, rustic, tex mex, native American, Aussie colonial or even modern minimalist. Am I the only one guilty of dreaming about the perfect house, what I'd have, furnishings, fittings, decor, wals floors and windows, gardens etc? (smile) I've got my own ideas but putter along making the best of what I've been so graciously given by my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Re selling of homes; its been my understanding that homely effects such as happy pictures, nice kitchens & bathrooms (the first thing buyers will swoop upon, even freshly baked bread, cakes etc filling the home with their aroma are big plusses.


Mrs. E.

Anonymous said...

Right now we are redorating again. We have lived in this house for 2 1/2 years. We had to finish the basement. The cement blocks were showing and wasn't insulated. Dear hubby who is a talent framed, insulated, sheetrocked, ect ect ect. It looks wonderful. A complete basement with the personal touches of our family. Now we are doing the 2 bedrooms upstairs so our oldest son can have his own room. He will be 18 soon and wants to live at home for awhile. He is expected to pay rent and felt it was only right that he has in own private room from his little brother. But the feel of the house is cold. Not just the physical sense but comfort & appeal. There is that personl touch that a mag. can't give. & your right the maintance is to high. The time to spend cleanning compared to time with family. What do I want to do?.

clevsea said...

Hard wood flooring that is 100 years old----now that's the way to live. In other words I love my floors. They look good and I don't have to baby them.

Wall to wall has to be replaced so very often -- it just makes it too expensive in the long run.

The photography is beautiful! Thanks for another good post.

Anonymous said...

After having carpet in an apartment for two years, DH and I were more than thrilled to find our new house had none - there is some ratty green carpet on the stairs down to the basement that I keep for the cats (better that than furniture).

Carpet is NOT child friendly - spills, drips, various kinds of accidents and you can never be too sure it's cleaned up properly - unless you spend too much money to have it professionally done. Plus, the dust, dustmites, fleas and other pests LOVE carpeting.

Anonymous said...

It was so lovely to read a "how to homemake" rather than "should we homemake or go out to work?" Thank you.

DeeDee Kay said...

Do you think you could share some of those blogs that show pictures of real homes? I also love to look at decorating ideas, but the styles in designer magazines are so far out of my reach that it does get a bit depressing.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Love the second picture :)


Anonymous said...

When I was around nine years of age, we lived in a ranch style home. How funny, I envied all our neighbors, because they had wall to wall carpeting. Later, as an adult, I came to dislike wall to wall carpeting. How funny. There were a lot of things, as a child, I just didn't understand! That was one of them! My home has wall to wall, a brand new house. But, if we could have, and the right house had come along, at that time, we would have gladly bought an older home with wood floors. Some day, maybe we can change the carpet to floor. It is true, carpets are nasty, hard to keep clean, and it takes money to keep replacing them. The worst part, is that you are stuck with the color of the carpet when making decisions about colors for decoration. Yet, all in all, thank God to have a home! We thought, we would never ever own a home.
I am looking for your suggested book in the library. For now no luck. It does look like a good book to keep in mind.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia,
Was there perhaps an error in the title of the book you mentioned? I checked Amazon,, Interlibrary loan and also the library has a World Catalog and the book wasn't listed anywhere.

Lydia said...

I just now put a link where this might be found, on the article, under the title.

Kellie said...

We have our home on the market now and are trying to sell it. Our real estate agent hired a house stager to stage it for us. We've already moved out, but left most of our furniture and decorations. She brought in a few other things, re-arranged as needed, and it looks great! We had a discussion about how much personal things I should leave. I had heard this same advice - to take them out. She had me leave them. If I had had too much of it, she probably would have taken them out, but for clutter reasons, not personal. We left in our collection of crosses, photos of our family, vacation pictures, our wedding picture, etc. In each case, they aren't clutter - they are artistic and add to the design of the room. She thought that people want to envision their family living there, and if a happy family lives there, it is easier to envision.

Anonymous said...

It's funny you mentioned wall to wall carpeting. I live in South America, where tile is the norm and carpeting is for the rich. Tile is "wonder flooring". It's a breeze to clean and sanitize and for color a few rugs can be scattered around. If I have a choice, I'll never go back to carpeting.
I read an article once from a professional carpet installer, and he said carpet is the dirtiest, most unsanitary item in a person's home. Yuck!

Love your blog and read all the articles! Blessings.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Lady Lydia,

We've tiles in the downstairs living area - with two dogs even though they live outside and are groomed regularly, the amount of hair swept from the floor, especially around molting season more than occasionally borders on the ridiculous. Whoever thought up wall to wall carpet for the family home must have had rocks in their head (smile). Modern floorboards unfortunately can demand just about as much work as carpets to keep in good condition - traffic areas showing wear very quickly indeed. my father and step mother live in a home built around 1929. Now, although only a portion of the floorboards are new (due to an historically faithful home extention) they still require lacquering every three to four years which in itself necessitates moving from the home for a few days. Rugs and runners help but still get pretty mangy (even with sweeping etc; at least one can take them outside for beating, shampoo them if needed and throw cotton durries in the wash (on cold with nothing else as the Indian dyes tend to run into everything other than the little rug itself - smile). Tiles are fantastic! the stairs and upper story (bedrooms bathroom and landing) are carpeted in cream! and yep, they're looking pretty ordinary and that's only after a few years. Note to those of us with some or all of our floors carpeted; dry cleaning beats steam cleaning hands down. i've had carpets done in this way for the past 15 years - you can walk on them in an hour and put the furniature back in place a couple of hours after that - if its a hot summer day; the first rooms will be dry almost before they've finished the last room. The mob i call in use citrus-based product which is bio-degradable and tolerable even to me - my asthma and hay fever cranking right up if anything too nasty is used about the house. My favourite is textured rendered concrete. If the home is on a slab, not piers, this is finished in attractive, textured (or smoothe) non-slip rendering-style material in the colour of your choice (I know of folks wwho've had mock ceramic style pictures put down but this is a bit too much) and can be offset by lovely rugs and runners. As good as tiles in my book (smile) In warmer places like australia and South america, carpet is a ludicrous idea (smile) but many of us are stuck with it either having purchased homes with it or more practical flooring solutions actually sometimes costing more (unbelievable, i know).

Rendered flooring can suit any decor from country cottage, Victorian, Rustic, Farmhouse, Aussie colonial, Latin American (with its bold colours and furnishings), native American or Australian - just name it. You know, its interesting; a popular (pulpy) current affairs show on the telly here in Aus did a segment upon those who have bought or built new homes with a good sprinkling of "McMansions" where the home owners made the life investment of a new home only to have things go wrong with it in the first 12 months. My husband's home, bought only 7 years ago, built only two years prior , has needed two separate major bathroom repairs in the shower, and needs a third!!!! Not cheap (shoddy workmanship). Though hour home is very small, God willing, if we have the chance to move out of the city and buy or build a little something, I'd rather go for a modest two bedroom home with good old fashioned double brick, high ceiling, eves, quality (though not necessarily 'flashy') kitchen and bathroom fixtures, an arga stove (for hot water heating and cooking - my dream of dreams) and a nice fireplace - the sort of thing that once it was built wouldn't need much work over the following years.I wouldn't mind a plunge pool either but that's being just a little bit too greedy (smile).

I understand what you mean about curtains and window-drapery - simple tab curtains looking nice (my dear malaysian friend very good at making these). I have a soft spot for timber venetians as they suit all decors, are easy to clean (just dust) and though a little dearer, will never need replacing (smile). Oh, I'm dreaming again! Do any other ladies, though content with what they've been graciously provided with by the Good Lord Above still plan their dream cottage? Oh, and yes, it MUST ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT QUESTION HAVE A CANTEENA BUILT IN THE BACK GARDEN (with a brick wood-fired baking oven and plenty of room for preserving, jam making, having a shot at cheese making and even sausage making (after the Italian fashion).

Now I AM dreaming (smile).

Best wishes,

Mrs. E.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are in process of getting our house ready to sell...and we have wall to wall carpeting, one preschooler, one toddler, one crawling infant and one cat...I leave the rest to your imagination. :-) Oh, how I hate that carpeting.
We have been investigating flooring options, not for here, but for our next house. Bamboo is supposed to be a comparatively inexpensive alternative to the traditional hardwoods, which are rather outside our budget...does anyone know more about it? We are definitely doing hardwood floor in the next place no matter what, even if it's just one room at a time as affordable.

Lydia said...

The new vinyl flooring can look just like hardwood flooring and has a lot less maintenance, is resistant to water and won't warp. You don't have to sand it down and refinish it in a couple of years. It won't get slivers in the children's feet if there is a rough spot. It doesn't squeak. Also, it is very adaptable to having the heating put under it.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you thank you thank you! I was beginning to think I was crazy for being so in hate with wall to wall carpet--for all the reasons mentioned! Every time we move into a new place, the first thing I do is yank out the wall to wall with my bare hands. It's dirty, it's hard to maintain, and needs big heavy machinery that uses power. It's just not a good thing to have. I'm not sure about the expense of it, though; cheap wall to wall is much less expensive than good hard flooring, which is probably why you find it in so much new construction and apartments.

Anonymous said...

A few shopfronts around us use the feau timber flooring Lady Lydia was speaking about. For kids it'd be brilliant! Also, if your house is already with floorboards or particle-board flooring on peers, this combined with the vynil/lino whatever you choose really minimises breakages when you drop cups, plates glasses etc on the floor in the kitchen. Tile and/or concrete slab have no give whatsoever so everything dropped upon it is destined to shatter into a thousand tiny little pieces - explode would be a better description.

A homemaking show here in Aus reviewed bamboo flooring a few years ago. it did very nicely and can be even laid upon a slab though if you've got children and pets, I don't like to think about how scratch and wear resistant it might be. if you can find a really good timber lookalike vinyl flooring, go for it; a few nice rugs and matching throws over your loungesweet (easy to make for even modest sewers; tied off with matching tapes/ribbons, simple tab curtains and a nice voil behind so you can open the heavier ones with still a little privacy (or invest what you'd have otherwise splashed out on timber flooring upon timber venetians (making very sure they match thevinyl 100% or close to it. If you've got kids, cloth placemats that can be thrown in the wash along with cloth fancies on the coffee table etc (rather than nice lacework) can do the trick very well indeed (I don't like the vynil children's placemats as they tend to get grottey really quickly and develop a nasty smell, even when kept clean.; match them in with your lounge covers, cushion covers, tab curtains etc and you've got a really lovely look; if you can simple home sew, this gives you many options to have varying sets (winter, summer, spring, Christmas, vintage, latin, just find some really value-for-money fabric and get creative. The only thing you'll need to change is the floor rug (and if you have a solid colour, even this can stay the same(with perhapsa smaller durry thrown on top to match your decor. Light creams are good standard wall colours as they'll go with everything. Oh, If only I could sew!!!!! (and if only I had a living room dining room that was a square rather than a window-ledge in size (smile) I've been blessed with some lovely home gifts such as a cloth table piece like that I mentioned, nice cork-backed placemats (tablecloths if you're VI can be ehm, interesting - especially if not properly anchored with a nice heavy centre piece (smile).

What do people think of painted front doors? white, red or navy with nice brass fitting? then there's letterboxes - I love the little ones modelled on the Old English post box (smile).

I've gone on again, haven't I (smile)


Mrs. E.

Lean Not said...

About the bamboo -- I think that I heard it is not quite as durable as other kinds of flooring.

I would go for laminate wood floors. Check them out at Home Depot or Lowe's -- it is almost just like normal hardwood floors, but much less expensive.

Anonymous said...

Again, I am so glad I found you Lady Lydia! Your posts are so encouraging, thank you!

When we first moved into our home 9 years ago, there was carpet in every room but the laundry room and bathroom...and it was so bad! Old, filthy, green, threadbare. Imagine my thankfulness when I peeled it back and saw the wealth of shining wood beneath! I didn't waste any time, believe me. Once the walls were painted my husband and I pulled the carpeting out. It took a few months longer to get the carpeting out of the kitchen though, as the former tenants had glued foam-backed carpeting down...what a bear to get out. Finally though, my husband had time to attack it with me. :O) We have fond memories of installing our first linoleum was the only room without hardwood flooring.

I wanted to mention, I love the circular grouping of furniture that you mentioned...and another wonderful addition to coziness is having two or three lamps lit instead of an overhead light.

Again, I really enjoy the thought and beauty you put into each post. And I've checked out their fine art is so beautiful! Will be putting together a wish list for sure!

Anonymous said...

A word of caution about the prefinished hardwood flooring made by companies such as "Bruce." The wood itself may be "hardwood," but the finish they put on top of it WILL SCRATCH, especially if you have pets. We have a dog. The finish on our 3-year old prefinished flooring is woefully scratched.

We were much happier with the good old-fashioned redoak hardwood floors we had in another house. The word "red oak" is misleading, because these floors can be stained or pickled any color at all.

Anonymous said...

I've posted anonymously a few times for previous articles on this blog. I've finally decided to establish an identity. I'm a 21-year-old college student (I'll be 22 in April) currently living with my mother and stepfather.

Anyway, they bought a house together for the first time in the summer of 2005. They made all sorts of changes to the decorum periodically. One such change is that last fall, they removed the red carpet in the living room, carpet which they never liked. It came off the floor gradually, revealing some hardwood flooring that they liked better. My stepfather's dog, who turned a year old either shortly before or shortly after this time, was initially nervous about stepping onto the so far no-longer-carpeted part of the living room. She seemed to think that the floor was "shrinking". But later in the evening, she was found calmly laying on it. The rest of the carpeting in the house is this green carpet that extended everywhere short of the foyer, the bathrooms, the bedrooms, and the living room. It WAS in one of the bathrooms, but was removed upon renovation of said bathroom (in place of the carpet that was there is now some white tile) and is scheduled to eventually be removed from the rest of the house.

Hardwood is okay. At least it doesn't have to be vaccumed (I may have spelled "vaccumed" wrong. I was just guessing), and at least it doesn't attract fur as easily as carpet. (The dog and my mom's 4-year-old Himalayan cat have had the bad habit of leaving their fur on carpted floors, furniture, etc.) My biggest concern is that hard floor of any kind, tends to be kind of cold in the winter, which is why 1) I'm grateful for the bath mat in next to the tub for when I step out of the shower and 2)Whenever I get up in the morning, I'll put on socks or slippers even when I'm merely going to my dresser or closet. I think when time, money, and inclination meet, I'll see about investing in pre-designed latch hook area rug project.

As for another aspect of home decorum, sorry if this is too off the subject, but which do any of you reading this prefer (and this is purely out of curiosity): wallpaper or paint? I'm asking this because when we moved in the house in summer 2005, one of the first things to go was the wallpaper: the brown plaid in the kitchen, the red velvet in the living room, and the brocade in the hallway. In place of the wallpaper of the kitchen is some light blue paint, and in the living room and hallway is some brownish paint. My room and the "music room" (where they keep instruments for decoration) also were eventually painted. The music room was painted blue and my room was painted pink (my favorite color). Mom painted my room while I was out of town visiting my dad, (I'd rather not discuss why they are not togther here if I can help it.Besides it has nothing to do with what I wanted to say here.) and left one of the walls white so that it didn't look like I lived in a tube of lipstick.;) After so much renovation, they eventually hosted a barbeque to show friends and colleagues the fruits of their labor, if you know what I mean.

Before I ramble too much, I think I'll stop here. I might comment some more later, timing permitting.

Lydia said...

Practically speaking, paint is cheaper and easier to put on by yourself. Wallpapering is back breaking work,it is very very expensive per foot compared to paint, and once you get a design up there it is difficult to remove, or you have to paper over it. Sometime syou can paint over it but it usually causes it to buckle. There are some magazines you can get called "Paint It" and Decorating, etc. which show how to use special paint rollers to get the effect of wallpaper, or use special rubber stamps for designs with paint. I love wallpaper but to get the best and most appealing, is very expensive. It can be easily damaged and holes and tears may appear. Paint is easier to repair.

Anonymous said...

Concerning wallpaper, I too am most definitely in the 'paint' camp. whilst staying at a few B & B's in Tasmania last year, some nice ones had it and even though it may well have been pretty, even new, little things were already going wrong with it. also, if one chooses to change the colour scheme or decor in their home, the wallpaper is backbraking work to remove and as for cloth wallpaper; doesn't it atract smells? Bathroom and kitchen carpet likewise; if there are folk with timber bathroom floors, I would recommend it be finished with marine varnish etc; something that's resistant to water; timber floorings in a wet area - risky business.

Another 80's disaster would have to be cork flooring for kitchens; it may seem like a nice idea but looks really tacky after about 5 seconds flat (smile) I am partial however to a wall stencil/ splitcolour or more over walls of differing yet harmonizing colour in the same room, especially with appropriate lighting, a nice picture etc. Framed Wall mirrors can also look lovely, giving the illusion of space and light to smaller rooms.

just my ten cents' worth.


Mrs. E.

Anonymous said...

I agree, paint is cheapest and easiest. However, I like to compromise and paint then add a border. Borders are really easy to put up, especially a good excuse to invite another mom-friend over for a work-session! And the ones they make nowadays are supposed to come off really easily when moistened. I've not had any problem with them. But I stay away from wallpapering entire walls for the most part because of the reasons Lady Lydia mentions...$ and the effort eventually in remodeling.

Kelli said...

Thank you for another inspiring post Lady Lydia. This statement strikes a chord with me,

"Many of the photos
in decorating magazines feature sophisticated architectural details that the ordinary homemaker will never have to deal with."

This is so true! It's so hard to find interior decorating photos featuring the plain architecture most of us live with! Fortunatley the number of quality homemaking blogs are increasing in our online community. There is so much inspiration out there!