Monday, February 7, 2011

Is Your Home Too Uptight to Be Fun ?

Comfort or Intimidation? source: Gunkleman
Magazine photos often make me swoon.... but are they conducive to having fun? Do they scare away guests or invite them in?

I had to ask myself this question this weekend as I was cleaning up for a party-get together with friends. My kitchen is the place in my home where everyone congregates. Its big, but not huge. I was trying to find a way to make my living room a destination too. Its so much larger and can accommodate many more people, more comfortably or so I thought. I have to actually announce: Let's all move into the Living Room, and even then, people hesitate. Why? I realized there were several reasons I could see.  It was too barren- bare--booorrrring--not enough to pull people in there. My main reason to go in there is to escape, have silence and read---doesn't sound fun or exactly invigorating, right? I mean, my chair and couch are comfortable to sit upon, but maybe not as approachable as I would like? Plus it is far from the kitchen. I had to ask myself: Why is it guests would rather squeeze in the kitchen? Because its warm, casual, messy with wine glasses and plates, people in and out of the fridge: its comfortable and definitely not uptight. I  want rooms that are approachable not intimidating. Is my fear of clutter undermining my creation of a warm, livable home?

So my task will be: create more comfort and casual- ness without sacrificing style. Here are some inspiration pics from my files:

Here, from Joni Webb, Cote de Texas, a warm, stylish, chic room that is not uptight in the least, right?
I LOVE this, but not as warm or inviting. source: Gunkleman

Same here, a little scary for a guest with red wine perhaps?  

And then, ahhhh-- this seems so inviting to me!

 So what here are the common "comfort cues"?

1. Comfort
No need to embellish is there?
I mean, if its not physically comfortable, no one will willingly go in there. But comfort is more than that. Its feeling safe. Not afraid to make a crumb or put your feet up.
source: Cote de Texas  

Definitely more formal, but something about the vibrancy of the patterns makes this feel welcoming source: SarahRichardson
I love this one: a hotel lobby no less, but the warm colors and pattern play makes me want to hang out in there.
my Living Room

2. Access
This is a challenge in my own house, where rooms are large but awkwardly shaped. Long and narrow rooms are difficult because you want several areas of access and "escape" ie. no one wants to feel trapped: like once they sit on the couch they have to climb over several pairs of legs to get out of there.

This looks a little tight to me, although there is access on either side of the couch, I wouldn't want to be in the middle of it.
Here the smaller tables allow much more leg room. Source: HGTV

Here too, more seating and furniture, but plenty of room to get up and move around freely. (albeit a much larger space)Source: Diary of a Renovation

Dining rooms seems to be especially challenged here. My own Dining Room is very difficult. I really think I need to ditch my China Cabinet so there is enough room around the table and chairs to be comfortable. Right now, its pretty tight. Having NO china cabinet would greatly increase the comfort level in there I think.
Here, plenty of room for those big end chairs to be pulled out. No cabinet to suck up space.
Here's mine. You can see the China Cabinet is pretty darn close to those chairs.

Even though this is tight next to the hutch, because of the round table it works.
3. Relaxed not Uptight
You really don't want guests to be nervous they might stain something or break some treasured object.

Obviously, not "for reals"

Here, a collection done for real life. Not scary.

 White doesn't have to be uptight... I'd love to sit a spell in this room:
from younghouselove

 But, not so much in this white room:

 4. Functionality/Purpose
 I realized: If a space has no apparent function, the objects in it are all "just for show" people will not want to go in there. Trust me.

I had an aunt who had an entire floor of her home devoted to "untouchables"...everything, and I mean everything was covered in clear vinyl. And her claim to fame was: "I've never ever used my wedding china". It just sat in a china cabinet "for show" I hate that. Its sad. It was scary as a kid the few times we went up there--like a museum tour. I was afraid to sneeze.

I recently saw some "decor ideas" in a decor mag. One of the ideas was : Books as Decor. Now, I am all over that. Love books. But I actually enjoy READING them. Here's what I mean:
Books are displayed "backwards"...spine facing wall. Huh?

Here it is again. I think its nuts.

not sure if this is really for real.
 Or, the pile of books. I like it, if you were actually reading the pile. Or reaching for a book wouldn't topple the whole thing over. Or spill a vase in the process.
This makes me nervous
This makes me want to sit down and pick up a book!
Make it a Great Day!


  1. Hi! Just wanted to let you know that you've been awarded the stylish blogger award over at my blog:)

  2. My house is so casual....sometime's I wish it were uptight. Love all of your images.


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