Shared Spaces I: The Living Room

"The charm of a house, like the charm of a person, is an outward manifestation of an inward grace."--Emily Post Did you have a good Easter? I hope you did! We had a wonderful time with my siblings...a small affair, but plenty of food. Whenever we have family feasts like this for the holidays, I like to make something new. This year, I discovered these yummy au gratin potatoes. They were easy to make and delicious! Just thought I'd pass it on to you before jumping back into our home series for the month. Just a bag of frozen shredded hash browns...no peeling and grating potatoes! I think I'll have to find a way to work them into my menu for our company guests this month...

Okay, getting back in focus. Of all the rooms in our house, I think the place I spend the most time in is the living room. Maybe it's because we do so much of our schoolwork here. It is where my husband and I usually sit for our date nights at home. The kids watch movies and play here. We've had many a game night as a family in this room. While our bedrooms are perfect for private space, the living room is where we do most of our, well, living.

In our home, the living room, playroom, dining room and kitchen are all going to have to work and flow together, but I'd like to have distinct places for our belongings at the end of the day. I don't want to find Lego pieces in my dinner nor do I want schoolbooks permanently piled up on my kitchen counter! A part of the work I'm going to need to do is to define areas in these shared spaces for different activities, and then help my kids to know where things belong. If they had their way, I think they would take over the whole house! (You know how that goes.) Not that I want to cramp their style or confine them. But at the end of the day, I know that I want my home to be a place where things are tidy and orderly.

As much as I would like my living room to be neat, I'm not sure if that is realistic at this point in time. We have too much living go on here! But that is what I want for this room. I want it to be a place of connection, whether it be over a quiet cup of tea and cookies or in the midst of a Nerf-gun war. I want the room to have a place for everyone to enjoy, whether it is my daughter with her latest read, my husband and me for our date night, or my boys when they have friends over.

However, as our room also has the additional function as a school room, I want a way to be able to contain all the books and papers that come along with homeschooling. A place to store the books we are currently reading. A file or binder to store lesson plans, records and notes. If you homeschool too and this is an issue, I found a few articles that might help. Here's an article for storage solutions for small spaces, plus a slideshow with some real-life ideas. If you want your living room to look attractive and not like a schoolroom, then this article gives a helpful idea using shelving from Ikea. Even if you don't homeschool, I hope you can find something to help creatively contain all that goes on in your living room!

In my dream home, I'd like the place to be functional but a place of beauty and rest. If anything, I think that the heart of the home is the living room. I'd like it to be a place where ministry happens. I am not much of a decorator, but if I could, I would have the living room be a place to put all kinds of seasonal decor, candles and quilts to warm it up. If I had to decorate one room in my house, this would probably be it: the walls, the coffee table, the shelf above the couch.

Notice that this is my dream home. I may not have this right now. But I also know I can start. I made a list of decor themes that I like, colors I tend to favor, and things that I'd like to fill my home with. But ultimately, the one thing that I want to pervade my home is a sense of His grace. To paraphrase Emily Post, inward grace is the root of an outward charm. And that is something that I can start with right now. As I fill our living spaces with His grace, I believe they also fill it with a charm, beauty and home-like atmosphere that no designer can ever replicate.

Heavenly Father, fill our living room with Your love, grace and beauty, so that it may overflow in blessings to those that live here, play here, work here. As we learn, grow, rest and enjoy one another in this room, may it satisfy the soul deeply, whether resident or guest. May your grace be known and evident in our home. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Cleaning tasks for the Living Room.