Joyce Walter reflects on living in the living room.
Several years ago, I learned that one’s living room, according to fashion designers, is not necessarily a room in which one lives a lot.
Looking around our living room, designers will definitely discover why there isn’t much life in the room, simply because it has once again become a mixed bag for things that would normally be located elsewhere in the house. Comfort is the mandate by which our salon is lived.
Seven years ago, I wrote the following column on this very subject. It is repeated this week to show that there is consistency in our lifestyle.
“Newspapers and magazines are still great teaching tools, and I for one am always learning something I didn’t know I needed to know, or didn’t know I didn’t know.
“Thanks to a subscription to a national newspaper, I can look at our furniture with an educated eye as I compare what the quoted experts say on the subject of casual and formal living.
“Certainly the definition of our lifestyle would be closer to ‘casual’ rather than ‘formal or nose in the air’. The furniture that graces our rooms was bought with the idea of being used, not just admired as a museum piece, and now, many years later, some museums would have trouble accommodating or finding a theme for our prized pieces.
“A Toronto fashion designer recently opened his home to a photographer/writer who explained his process for installing living room furniture and décor.
“This designer sees his living room as a showcase for art and special pieces of crafts and is used only for special occasions. So far, I thought, we’re not that far apart in our assessment of our living rooms.
“She has favorite pieces of art on the walls. We also. It has something described as painted wood relief. We have a large mirror that was given to us as a wedding present. There is a painting of an old barn on another wall and a set of stairs leading up to a star made for us as a gift. Another wall has some important plaques and awards. One last wall shows a hooked wreath I made with my own hands many years ago. It’s open all year despite a definite Christmas theme and covers some unsightly nail holes.
“It has two sofas for symmetry. We got one because we don’t use it much and turning the cushions over, it looks in good shape, complete with cushions and a collection of plush toys. It is balanced by a swivel chair in a color that doesn’t go with anything, and a beautiful wooden rocking chair that was my Christmas present dozens of years ago. It still rocks beautifully.
“Unlike the man from Toronto, we would allow guests to sit in our chairs for as long as they wanted. Your guests are only given a minute or two to sit down when they are allowed into the room. His reasoning: The leather is thin on his 1950s chairs.
“It has coffee tables and side tables like we do in our room. His are special to him. One of ours came to us via auction, the others were purchased as a set with our china cabinet and dining room table. All the tables are a bit messy with our treasures, while his is empty and dustless. He has chandeliers, we have a fruit bowl, some books, some lamps that are rarely turned on, and a rug that is now called retro instead of old.
“What we have that he doesn’t have is a strategically placed cache of cookware under a table, items that are stored there to save me the trouble of running up and down the stairs when I need a muffin pan. There’s even a toaster in there, along with some plastic containers, two summer travel baskets, and the vacuum cleaner, in case you’re in the mood.
“I suspect our living room would get a disapproving snort, but it’s well-inhabited, even if it doesn’t meet the standards for an art education photographic layout.”
Back to the present: My muffin tins and cake pans are still accessible in the living room, but the vacuum has been moved downstairs, replaced by a retro trunk now used to accommodate more cookware, in case you have desire.
Joyce Walter can be reached at [email protected]
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.