Sunday, May 14, 2017

Making it Home

Pictures today are from Pinterest

This post is addresses a request by some readers regarding making a shabby house fresh and cozy.

The painting above, by Susan Rios, is her free printable Mother's Day card. She has many paintings of rooms you may like, pictures which make me remember of the way homes used to look without high-end interior design and commercial furniture.
It helps to think back to the  way our grandmothers and great grandmothers furnished their homes. 

In most homes there was a braided or rag rug, a rocking chair, a painting on the wall (usually scenery by a family member), embroidered or crocheted cloths to cover backs and arms of chairs, a table and chair set (colonial style was most prevalent),  curtains, a few lamps, a small book shelf, and a few other things. 

The floor, or scatter rugs were not sold in stores but created from old sheets torn into strips, or from fabric or old clothing.

Each rug was unique to that little house, and there was none like it anywhere else. A lot more could be found about these carpets by asking people who remember using them. More than a utility and beyond a decoration, they absorbed water dropped on the kitchen floor and bathrooms, covered cold, floors, and softened the sharp sounds of footsteps. 

 The threadbare textiles of the family were tightly woven or braided together for their most hardy use yet, before the final discard. That is the way I saw it. 

If you are a stitcher, you may have yards of fabric you need to put to use, which can be cut into long strips to crochet or braid into foot rugs, providing a colorful and homey look in a home. 

  It was not that long ago that rolls of fabric could be purchased and huge crochet hooks to make these rugs. These materials might still be available to crafters.

If you have a rocking chair, it works best in a corner, as the curved legs can be a problem with people tripping over them when walking behind the chair.

 Most homes had rocking chairs.  A rocking chair soothed people from getting too stressed, and when someone was irritable it was said they were "off their rocker." Maybe his mother didn't rock the child long enough, or perhaps an adult skipped his after dinner time in the rocking chair. It was thought that rocking may aid in digestion, as well. Many people believe a rocking chair is very important to relieve tension, balance the mind, and soothe the body. 

This recliner-rocker is the best, because the legs are covered, protecting people from tripping on them.

Most homes had a little wooden caddy beside the rocking chair where they kept books they were reading, or maybe their knitting. I personally didn't like them as magazine holders. In my observation they didn't really work that well. The magazines flopped over and didn't keep their shape. 

Paper flowers were the artificial flowers most used, and we learned to make them from tissue wrapping paper, stretchy crepe paper and construction paper.  They were eventually thrown out and new ones made. In summer, any free foliage from pussy willows to wild geraniums were put in the dining table in any vessel that could be found. 

As life changes from era to era, different needs arise in homes and other things are no longer of use. Today it is important to many of us not to have too much to look after in the house. If you find yourself always moving "things"  or always putting things away, you may want to streamline your household possessions to include only what you want to handle every day.

For those who are not concerned about "decor" here are a few things that help make an ordinary house look better:

-hide electric cords behind tables and shelves. Lamps look good when the cords are not showing.
-keep tables as bare and empty as possible so they can be used when needed.
-remove sticky notes from surfaces and gather papers into a container. 
-in general the arrangement of the house should be what you are happy and comfortable with.
-do not over-accessorize. These things become more to look after, and though they may look nice in a photograph, can be come tiresome to live with. 

When you are just beginning to establish a home, by all means furnish it with the newest and best you can possibly afford. New things are very uplifting and I am not suggesting you "put up with" broken down things in your home. If you need a new couch or table and chair set, by all means, spoil yourself and get it. The purpose of these last few posts was to offer ideas for ladies who needed ideas on how to get through the rough phase before being able to re-furnish their houses.


Dawn said...

You mean that pretty blue chair is a recliner/rocker? That is just what I want for my living room. My current recliner is nearing the end so I've had them on my mind lately.

Some of the things you mentioned are currently in my home. I have a vase of paper flowers I made some time ago according to directions you posted. I enjoyed making them and they came out so pretty. Embroidered linens are so pretty and plentiful at estate sales and the like. I should use them more in my décor. I adore braided rugs and have them in most of my rooms. Some were commercially made and some were handmade. That pink braided rug you have pictured is just beautiful.

I can't remember the site, but I found directions for a type of braided rug called a "toothbrush rug" because they were originally made with a needle made by cutting off the head of a toothbrush and sharpening the end to a point back when toothbrushes had a hole at the end of the handle. A fabric strip would be threaded onto the needle to make a rug. Now one can buy the needle online and I suppose at some craft stores. I'm tempted to try making one of those for my bathroom.

Oh, and quilts and afghans are other cozy handmade touches that were in most homes back in the day. And if someone didn't have any actual painting talent, there were always paint-by-number kits to make some art for the walls.

The older I get, the more I want all the homey old-fashioned things in my home. I've been evolving from preferring midcentury modern to favoring shabby chic cottage style furnishings.

anonymous said...

Once I crochet a cotton rag rug and had it for many many years. Got tired of the colors and gave it away. My mother crochet a wool rug from selvage edges of woolen mill fabric bought at a wool mill in Oregon. It is heavy and wonderful. I like the old braided wool rugs also.
There is much to be said for all the homemade and practical things that make the home comfortable and homey.

I like using old quilts and blankets to cover chairs and sofas. This is practical to keep the furniture from soiling also. Affordable chair and sofa covers made of fake suede may be purchased at Big Lots Stores. It washes well and is most stain resistant.

Dianna said...

Thank you for all the wisdom you share here. I had never thought about the phrase "off their rocker," but you're right, it does make a lot of sense. I have heard from modern-day teachers that kids need to do things like swinging and rocking and rolling down hills; it helps with their development. I think I will keep our rocking chair for myself after my babies are grown.

Mrs. C said...

Thank you for another inspiring post! Just wondering if you will be showing any spring/summer clothing projects in future posts?

Lydia said...

I am attempting to finish a dress. My sewing room has to be organized first after a floor repair. I have not recovered it from all the shifting of things. But I very much hope to get that all in order and then complete the dress.

Lydia said...

The knit and crochet colorful blankets for the couches and chairs were part of the family home. The braided floor rugs, granny square blankets, home made paintings, table cloths and doilies that protected wood surfaces, and curtains were usually one of a kind made by someone either in the family or received from a friend. Quilts adorned the beds., and were never made commercially in factiries, which was why every home had its unique atmosphere. The family surname was sometimes carved into a piece of wood and hung the side of the house. A rocking chair was used on the porch in summer.