If you know me well, you know that I have a passion for all things decorating, cooking, and hospitality. Today’s post is about all three of those things.
When we purchased our home, we were beyond excited that it had a dining room. We’d never had an actual dining room! While we have loved our dining room, it has begun to feel cramped as our family has grown. Yet, I’ve loved nothing more than squeezing people around the table, loving them through a good ol’ fashioned home-cooked meal.
The idea is to be able to seat 10 people at this table, but that is MAXED out. We were all a little squished at this particular dinner party.
But lately, I’ve found myself wishing for more, to the point of being discontent. We know several people in various stages of home-building. Looking at blueprints and walking through partially-built homes of people we love…I’ve felt excitement for them, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also feel the pull of discontentment. I began to say “if only” a lot more than I used to. “If only I had a bigger dining room, we could host larger get-togethers.” “If only I had a double oven like they do, I could cook amazing meals for my friends and family.” “If only we had a room that could house a huge table…then everyone could sit together at the table.” Slowly but surely, these “if onlys” began to steal away the joy of hospitality, and that began to break my heart.
And so I started to think outside of the box a bit, while at the same time speaking the truth I knew I believed deep down. The truth that hospitality has nothing to do with the size of my house, but everything to do with the size of my heart. That I don’t invite people into my home to be entertained (I hate the word “entertaining.”) I invite others into my home to be loved, cared for, listened to, and fed…and I can do that no matter what the size of my dining room. In the words of my favorite author, Shauna Niequist, “What makes me feel alive and connected…is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. I believe it’s the way I was made, and I believe it matters.” A little soul-searching was good for me, and if nothing else it re-ignited a flame within my heart to use our home to show love to those around us.
After I’d settled my discontentment in my heart, and vowed to be hospitable even in a cramped dining room, an idea literally struck like lightning one evening. It sounded crazy, even in my own head, but I voiced it out loud…and found that it sounded just as crazy aloud. Who on earth says that the dining room has to be the dining room, and the living room has to be the living room? Why not switch them around?! Bless my dear loving husband, he listened (even though the look on his face was one of major skepticism). And after a few days, he was actually open to the idea! I shared my idea with a few family members and friends, most of whom gave me the same odd look…I think they’re all a bit worried about my sanity! But we ran with the idea, and switched them around anyway. We figured we might as well try, and we were up for a good challenge. After all, the dining room could serve as a cozy little sitting room, and the living room (which we’ve forever had a hard time arranging because of it’s long narrow build) could house a really awesome harvest-style table someday. Doesn’t it often seem that when people are together, they tend to gather around the table anyway? It’s that way at my house, so why not use the larger room for a larger table?
Two weeks ago, while the kids played with some neighbor kids, Tanner and I played musical furniture all around our house. The couches moved to the basement, the table moved to the living room, and every decoration I owned found a new place within our home. I literally shopped our own house, and transformed our main level. The only thing I’ve purchased so far is the beautiful antique rocking chair that sits in the corner of our cozy little sitting room. A sweet older woman sold it to me for $30…it’s over 100 years old, and her husband completely refurbished it. I think it’s beautiful!
So, for a grand total of $30…here are our two new rooms. We’re trying it like this for a while to see how we like it, but so far we love it! Long-term, if we keep it this way, we’ll save our pennies for a HUGE harvest-style table that would seat 14 or more people. We’ve already got our feelers out there, and a few very generous people have offered their time and talent to help us build a table this large, as they’re really hard to find already made without spending more than what this room is worth! :-)
THE NEW SITTING ROOM
I love that you can finally see the beautiful bench that has sat behind our dining table for years! This bench is from an old one-room schoolhouse, and has a date of 1897 stamped on the cast iron legs. I love it! And, it’s hard to see in the photo, but we’ve put a comfy leather chair on the right-hand side of the room.
My writing desk fits perfectly in the corner!
THE NEW DINING ROOM
I literally took apart the corner cabinet in our former dining room, in order to use the top half in conjunction with our fireplace. Definitely outside-of-the-box-thinking, but I love how it turned out. And, I love that it cost $0!
This little shelf was built years ago by my grandfather. It’s built from the very first headboard my grandma and grandpa ever had. I wish he were here to see how I’ve used it in our dining room!
The baskets that hold the white dishes cost me nothing! They are actually the plastic white baskets that came with our deep freezer, and I spray painted them to look like antique baskets.
This little bench was $5 at a garage sale several years ago. It’s been outside for a long time, but with a fresh coat of spray paint and some distressing…it’s a great little window seat.
We host our first get-together in our new rooms tomorrow evening, as we are beginning our church small group Bible studies. We’ll add some card tables to the end of our current table so there’s enough room, but I cannot wait to have every adult gathered around the same table eating goodies, drinking coffee, sharing hearts, and watching God work in lives. I have a feeling that this room will host many get-togethers like this, and that excites me!
I’m quite certain you have your own opinion about our swapping of rooms, and I’d love to hear them! Some of you may love the idea, and others may hate it. Some of you might roll your eyes at another one of my crazy ideas, and that’s okay. Really. I, for one, believe a little bit of crazy in my life is good for me. And maybe, just maybe, we all need to be a little more willing to be crazy every now and then? Maybe crazy isn’t as bad as we make it out to be? ;-)
Blessings to you today, dear reader!! And maybe someday, you’ll join me around the table? I’d love that!