Source: Pioneer Press
The Gathering Place—Furnish it Wisely
The gathering place—every home has one. If any place in your home should be smartly furnished, it should be the space where family members come together. After all, this place, above all others, is where life’s big issues get discussed, decisions about the future are made, laughs are shared, and tears are shed.
As we head into the autumn season and the holidays loom, the significance of family is highlighted. Take the opportunity to think about the space in your home where people tend to gather and whether it is all you want it to be.
In some homes, the gathering place is the kitchen table. During food preparation and cooking time, children and spouses come and go talking about their days. Or, maybe dinner guests are milling about, wine in hand talking with the cook. In order for people to stay in the kitchen, it must be a space that can accommodate them and be comfortable enough for people to spend time there.
A kitchen can accommodate family and guests graciously and comfortably without being huge. In fact, last Thanksgiving I observed something very interesting; the home where my extended family gathered to spend the holiday was not large at all. The kitchen was 9 x 12 with an eat-in table in the center. The table was a drop-leaf table that opened to a 42” round. I marveled at how many things happened at that table in the four days we were there.
The small table served as a buffet, dining table, dessert table, craft station for grandchildren, manicure table for the young ladies, writing desk for grandma, a place to tell stories and listen, a spot to sip coffee and discuss the future of family members, our country and the world. That’s a tall task for one small table. All of this happened at that table because the space was comfortable, appealing and flexible enough to accommodate the variety of activities that people demanded of the space. The furniture fit perfectly and an extra bonus was the lighting, which allowed for several options. There was bright task lighting, softer conversation lighting, direct lighting and combinations of the above.
In other homes, the gathering place is the dining room table. The dining room table has had a long tradition as the homework base or, at least, school project command central. These activities are opportunities for good family interaction.
If this is your family gathering place, the table and chairs should be comfortable and user friendly (or made so with slip covers) so that every family member feels welcome to use them. If the table is highly finished, you should have protective pads made for the table. Use an inexpensive tablecloth over the pads when the table is used for projects so you don’t worry about it and neither do your family members.
Where the dining room is only the gathering place for family and guests to enjoy good meals and good times, it still should be comfortable. If you want people to linger in a dining chair, it must be up to the task. In fact, the whole room should be an appealing, inviting space where people want to sit back and enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company. This is all done with the right furniture, the right colors, and the proper lighting.
The Family Room
The family room is also among the more common gathering places in a home. This is most likely the case when there is not an eat-in kitchen and the dining room is either too formal or just not a place to settle into for long discussions.
The key to a great family room is to have the furniture arranged for conversation. Arrange it around a fireplace first, if you have one and for the television secondarily. Here you want to create a coziness and warmth so family members and others will linger. There should be enough seating to accommodate your family members and four people beyond that, if possible. Ottomans, which are great with reading chairs, can act as extra seating. Throws are another essential family room accessory.
The architecture and layout of your home will strongly influence the hub of the house. But you can influence where your family’s gathering place is by how you furnish the spaces. Whether your gathering place is in the kitchen, dining room or family room, furnish it with comfort, warmth and style!