Friday, September 02, 2011

A Room That Feels Like Home

The Sitting Room
by Susan Rios

and go here to see more of Susan Rios Art.

Although I like to stretch summer as long as I can, I enjoyed this lovely autumn painting that came in my email this morning and would like to share it here with a link to Susan Rios to see more. I love her depiction of seating areas in the home, surrounded by books or writing materials, and flowering plants.

  If a home had one room like this to keep for quiet times or guests, the rest of the house work would be a delight, because this kind of room seems to set a standard for the rest of the home.  This alludes back to the parlours of the Victorian times, which were just front rooms where the work of the home was not seen.  They were rooms used for an escape from the commotion of the rest of the house, or for receiving guests, who did not venture into the kitchen or the private living areas of the family. 
by Susan Rios

 For most of us, the living room is just inside the front door and immediately comes into view when one enters, so it will be the room we are most concerned about for appearance.  When the lady of the home returns from shopping or from outdoors, her mood can be greatly improved when she sees that first room in order. It makes the rest of the rooms easier to tackle if they are in a mess. 

For a small living area, I would suggest the following items to make it seem like home:

Two comfortable chairs for relaxing.
One couch, love-seat length.
Possibly a longer couch or settee, depending on the preferences of your family.
A bookcase with a collection of favorite and beautifully covered books.
A small desk with a lamp, which could also serve as an end table beside one of the chairs or couches.
End tables for lamps, placed beside the chairs and couches.
A braided or hooked rug for the center of the room.
A small table placed on the rug, for serving tea or bearing reading materials, a pretty plant or vase of flowers or interesting object that has meaning to you---a large sea shell, a tea pot, a basket, etc.
On the walls : a clock, photographs, paintings, and possibly a light that looks like a candle, or a hanging candleholder with wax candles that match the colors of your house.

Seaside Terrace by Susan Rios can be viewed at her website here.

To add to the feeling of home in the living area you can get a portable electric fireplace that is easy to move around, and put it on one wall. It has an electric flame that looks lovely and it actually puts out heat through a vent. The mantel piece area makes another old fashioned surface on which to place photographs, a mantel cloth, or a collection of things you like. You can use the flame feature, which adds like without heat, and is operated by a simple little night-light bulb.

If you like, you can get out your grandmother's lace to protect the surfaces of the tables and the mantel before you set out the lamps and other objects. It makes good sense to take care of furniture, however inexpensive and humble it is.

Garden Window by Susan Rios
can be purchased here.

As time allows, I hope to post about other places in the home, such as the porches, the dining room, kitchen, laundry room, bedrooms, etc. to find ways to make them both comforting and appealing to the eye. To make one room a model of order and beauty can help a homemaker have more insipiration and delight in her housekeeping and cleaning of the other parts of the house.

All Susan Rios paintings here are used with her permission.

Mrs. J., in comments: I agree about the footstool and the sofa table. The foot stool is much nicer than today's ottoman or hassock, which is harder to use and takes up enormous space in a room. The sofa table should be used because that way you do not have to put the back of your long couch or chair against a wall or corner. It makes it easier to position the couch with the back toward your audience but still have something nice against it. The sofa table provides a place that looks like an entry table, with a lamp, maybe a guest book and a vase of flowers. I quite agree that these two pieces of furniture should be included in planning your sitting room.

Also, the lady who commented about the piano: those things are so big and awkward and cannot be moved often, but I love them, and have one myself. They just add so much human-ness to the room, much like a shelf full of books.


Ginger said...

You described my front room, except omitted the piano.

I want the room in the first painting. The little foot stool is perfect for a short girl like me.

I hope you enjoyed your vacation. I missed your words of wisdom. Glad you are back.

Anonymous said...

Hello and welcome back to the lower 48. I really enjoyed reading the Alaska posts and seeing the photographs.

This topic of home decor is one of my favorites. Our home, like so many, has no separate entry hall or parlor. Guests arriving at the front door just immediately "spill" into the living room/dining area/kitchen. This open floor plan seems to have been quite popular, although it is not my personal favorite. Large potted plants (real or artificial) and moveable screens can be put to good use in blocking views that you don't want your seated guests to see. Such as the kitchen sink or the stove. At least, that is what I try to do.

Looking forward to future posts on this endlessly fascinating topic!

Kind regards,

Susan T.

Lydia said...

I forgot to include the piano. Most people have an old piano which gives extra surfaces to put interesting things on, and there is the enjoyment of hearing people play on it.

Anonymous said...


Welcome back and thank you for this lovely post.

Open plan homes as are many in which we, your readership, live, are still the norm. However, I have heard that new home design is trending back toward more separationh of areas. As we in the Southern Hemisphere are now in early spring, the mind turns toward brightening up the house.

Keep blessing us with these lovely articles.

Anonymous said...

we're so glad to have you back. Thank you for taking us on your trip and keeping us updated. It was a great trip.

I do have my great grandmother's upright Esty Piano in my livingroom and it does provide extra surface to place family photos on.

My living room is laid out so that I must put my sofa right in the middle of the room with its back to the entrance of the room.

Sofa backs are so unappealing so I placed a vintage Singer sewing machine cabinet behind it with a decorative birdhouse on a lace table scarf to give a welcoming appearance.

Sofa tables used to be quite popular many years ago. It just gives a more finished look to the room.

I also loved those little cushioned foot stools that women used when doing needlework or nursing a baby. It helped relieve the small of the back when sitting.

Mrs. J.

Lydia said...

Mrs J. Good reminder about the foot stools for women. What you speak of is much different from the things that people use today. I like the old-fashioned foot stool because it only elevates the feet slightly above the floor to give the feet a rest and keep them warm, and is comfortable. The things used today to rest the feet are just so huge and clumsy and you have to stretch your legs out straight. I know women need these small stools, as I've seen them rest their feet on the lower structure of chairs or some little thing that will make the feet higher, such as when they sit in a row of chairs and rest their feet on the lower rung of the chair in the row in front of them.

Anonymous said...

It is good to have you back! I am sure seeing your home property was a memory you will cherish forever. Thank you for taking us along. Our front door opens to our little front room. This room has three door ways in it and a fireplace taking up space too. Sadly furniture cannot be moved around as it only fits certain places and not much furniture can even be used. Still though I can and have made it cozy. I do change out the pictures and accessories for the seasons or on a whim. I move things from one room to another to keep our home fresh looking. I am studying what style of curtains to make now to replace our old ones. I always get inspiration from your articles and this one was no exception! :) Sarah

Mrs. V. said...

I think one of the reasons I like Susan Rios pictures so much is that she shows how much can be done in a small space. I just wrote about living in a small home on my blog and like most people living in small spaces, I'm always looking for ideas for decorating where size and scale are an issue. Ms. Rios' pictures are lovely and give so many homey ideas.

Lydia said...

Moving accessories around or changing things seasonally really gives a room a new look and the family does notice it. It is like having a vacation in another place.I understand about not being able to move things around. When you have certain features in the room like doorways that cannot be blocked, or a big picture window or a huge piano, things have to stay where they are. Like you said, you can always change cusions, slip covers, lamps, pictures, and colors.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I love Susan Rios' art.

My living room has a piano, two sofas and three chairs, a coffee table that has storage, and a couple of side tables. This is not a huge space but the way we were able to arrange the furniture makes it cozy and great for enjoying wonderful conversation with our guests. This space is open to our kitchen/dining area and we are able to get quite a few people in this space! We love it.

Books, candles, paintings, tea cups, a clock, lamps all make it a welcoming space!

Thanks for sharing this post!


Anonymous said...

I would LOVE to print this wonderful article for my homemaking notebook, but the printer-friendly site brings up the Sep. 3 article and nothing else. Do you know how to print a specific article? Thank you either way!

Lydia said...

Click on the title of the article

Then bring up a separate internet page and paste in the printer friendly url Here's the address to paste

(found on the printer friendly article on the side bar)

Then go to the article itself and highlight the url address at the top of the internet explorer (or whatever you use) and paste it into the printer friendly space on the printer friendly page.

Here's the article url address:

I thought I had corrected all the settings to make it printer friendly, so I hope this works.

To make it printer friendly, you can only click on the title of the article you want. It will not work if the entire page with other articles is showing.

Anonymous said...

One other commenter mentioned slip covers. I like the fact that they
save the sofa from wear so well and they change the mood of the room. I have Winter and Spring slip covers for my sofa.

The fabric is micro suede and is in two pieces. One for the sofa and the other for the cushions. It washes well and dries fast in the drier and then goes right back on the sofa.

I choose neutral colors for the slip covers and change out the pillows and throw for seasonal changes.

One day I will learn how to make slipcovers.
Mrs. J.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned the fact that the hassocks are big and clumsy.

I found a way around that. I got one at a yard sale and fitted it with a slipcover also. Then I pushed it right up against the overstuffed chair next to a tall bookshelf in the corner of the room.
It looks and feels like one of those old fashioned chaise lounges. It can be separated if desired, but most folks enjoy the lounge affect and leave it together.

There is a folded arm standing lamp just behind the chair and I set a small end table with a plant beside it. The bookshelf on the other side gives it a luxurious library feel. Perfect and cozy for curling up with a book or a nap.
Mrs. J.

Rightthinker said...

We have a fairly large home, yet it has one "common area". When we purchased the home, I had some different ideas about what a home should "be", and we had only 4 children at that point..I liked the new "open" floor plans. Now, I'd much rather have a much smaller, older home, where the rooms are more closed off, and lend themselves to individual purpose.

With that said, we work with what we have, and we are blessed to have a home that is nice and comfortable, and so I keep the common area generally peaceful, very clean, cheery, bright and relaxing. Of course, if the children are having a birthday party, or it's Christmas morning, the mood changes! I get many compliments on how "soothing" our home is..the children have bedrooms in which to play games more loudly, or outside.

I have all very frugal decor, but one wouldn't know it, and I rearrange the furniture, generally 1 x per month. I give it a new look, and change out some of the decor and accents with seasons/holidays. It's been very affordable, as I've found much that I've "re-done" or put together from Dollar Stores, thrift stores and garage sales.

Thanks for sharing. Home decorating doesn't have to be only for the doesn't have to be all "Ikea" modern style, either. Decorating is truly for the homemaker at heart, because we desire to create a refuge and serene space for our families and ourselves!

God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Our house is a sort of modified farmhouse, having separate, more formal rooms at the front & a common, more open area at the back of the house. It works well for us, though there are still things I would have different if we had to build this house all over again.

I do have an issue with our piano. We have a baby grand, & got a very good deal on it, but it does not fit the space well. I liked the old full upright piano we had for several years but it had gotten to the point where it would no longer hold a pitch. anyway, I do the best I can with what I have, & my second daughter (who uses that room the most) seems alright with things.

I love the notion of switching things out seasonally, or just because one feels like it, as it can freshen things up & revive us.


Anonymous said...

I have seen on several bogs were the women used foam board or cardboard they covered with fabric or wall paper of any sort to fit the back of shelf units to brighten up that area. Just push the boards into the back glue or anything is needed. The boards can be changed out seasonally or not. I liked this idea and want to try it. You could use fabric scraps from pillows or a chair you recovered to coordinate your rooms. I also noted another lady just put an edging on her old curtains using left over fabric to refresh them. There are so many inspiration ideas ladies can use. Sarah

Sarah R said...

I am cleaning out an area next to my fireplace now. It is where we used to keep our dog crate, but ol Roscoe passed away last week. I spent all day today cleaning it. I also spackled it, and intend to sand it, spackle and sand again, then paint. Then we're going to put bookshelves in! I'm very excited about having that area tidied up.

Anonymous said...

I love these pictures. Her rooms always look so cozy and welcoming. Nothing formal or stiff or uncomfortable looking--you can picture yourself enjoying yourself in any of these rooms.
I love to collect old furniture and decorate my rooms with hand-me-downs and found treasures. I especially love mid-century early American style furniture--study, American made, solid wood pieces that never go out of style. My home isn't a showplace, but I try to make it feel homey and comfortable for my family and friends.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the help with printing! I'll give it a try.

Anonymous said...