Timeless Tangent Thursday #1 – Hospitality

If you’re like most of us, you have a very busy life. You’re trying to juggle work, kids, dogs, house, volunteer work, church groups, or a number of other things. Who has time to go all out for a dinner party? The better question is, why do we feel we need to? To add more to the discussion on “restraint”, and how we agree it applies to every part of life, today I want to apply it to entertaining.  More specifically, I want to say that we should be entertaining with hospitality.

I think hospitality is a state of mind as much as it is an action.  It requires that we open our hearts, not just our homes.  That we make our lives accessible to our friends, family, neighbors and strangers alike.  I love having people to our house, making them feel comfortable and welcome, enjoying an evening of good company. I want to show that I’m happy they’ve come, but I don’t do it by trying to redecorate my house or overdoing the table settings just for one evening. That’s not what hospitality is about. I make sure my house is (relatively) clean, that my dishwasher is empty. I put flowers on the table, light a candle or two, and get ready for company!

You already know my love of books, and I’ve found two that express this concept perfectly. Sandy Coughlin’s The Reluctant Entertainer and Karen Ehman’s A Life that Says Welcome. They talk about making your house a welcoming home, that focusing on the guests is more important than the menu or the centerpiece. Definitely pick these up at your local bookstore!

I do put some thought into setting the table, because, let’s face it, I care about how things look! But I try to use what I have. In the photos below, the only thing I didn’t already have were the fresh hydrangeas. You’ll see I used birdseed for vase filler, napkins as placemats and kept everything very simple. It’s nice to show company that you want them there, that you value the time you will be spending together, and that you took the time to clean up a little. Sometimes, though, we invite people over without much notice, or someone just shows up at your door. But by focusing on the guests, and using a few things you have around the house, making your home an inviting place can be done in a short time!

What are some ways you show hospitality?  What are your go-to items for setting the table?  We decided to register only for white dishware for our wedding, foregoing the traditional china.  (When would we use china?)  With white, I can mix in other patterns (like the odds and ends of china sets from grandparents) and less expensive and seasonal pieces.  White goes with everything!  And I love that it stands out from our dark table.

 

Come back tomorrow for Fabulous Find Friday!  I’ve got some great things to share 🙂

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Timeless Trait #1 – Restraint

Hello there! Welcome to the first Timeless Trait Tuesday! Let the games begin! Well, maybe not games exactly, unless you count intelligent conversation a game… (I’m nerdy, so I guess I do!) I should say, let the formal discussion begin! Now that you know a little more about me, and the purpose of the blog, let’s dive in, shall we?

On Saturday, I proposed that timeless living is a lifestyle. What we consider important in our lives affects the decisions we make about how we live in our homes. Those decisions include the ways we arrange our furniture, lay out our kitchens, select our plumbing fixtures and make our beds. They affect how we furnish and decorate, how we choose to make our house our home. That leads me to the first timeless design trait: RESTRAINT. I look at the concept as a lifestyle and a design style, because I think the two are co-dependent. When we choose to live a lifestyle of restraint, that translates into our homes’ aesthetics.

So what does a lifestyle of restraint look like? Nowadays, most of us are having to make due with less, making our money go further and getting creative with our financial decisions. Some of us are living restraint by necessity, some of us by choice. I don’t propose, however, that living a life of restraint means giving up what’s important to you (like a weekly dinner with friends, for example). I think restraint means giving up excess; if it’s not that important, do you need it? (I will point out that dinner with friends at someone’s house is much more fun, and economical, than another night out.) If you don’t need it, can you give up wanting it? (I would like to refurnish our master bedroom, but, saving money to buy a house is more important.) Decisions are value judgments. So if we decide we don’t need that fiftieth pair of shoes or third gray handbag, not only are our closets less cluttered, but our lives are a whole lot simpler. Perhaps our budget is self-imposed, because we reject the materialism our culture pushes on us. The home design/decor/DIY blogosphere has shown us that repainting/refinishing that old cabinet can created a completely new look. Those old wallpaper scraps make great art when framed nicely, and houseplants and flowers from the garden are really the best accessories a room can have.

But, I’m getting off my soapbox now (because really, I could add materialism as an “anti-timeless trait” for so many reasons). We’ll probably return to the lifestyle discussion at a later date…

Back to the real topic: What might restraint look like in our homes?

Some recurring themes of restraint:

  1. consistent and simple color palettes
  2. minimal but meaningful accessories
  3. careful and thoughtful selections
  4. focus on necessity and function

These themes show us a few things.  First, restraint obviously isn’t about “stuff”.  It’s about the careful selection of pieces we love.  Then, we let those items speak for themselves, not cluttering up tabletops with useless items or covering the sofa in a hundred pillows.  (Too much clutter makes me feel anxious.  Does it do the same to you?)  When we choose to make selections based on a subtle color palette, we can feel refreshed and calm.  Restrained design allows us to live in our home the way we want to: comfortably.

 

A few closing thoughts:

“Teach us delight in simple things.”  – Rudyard Kipling

“Going back to a simpler life is not step backward.”  – Yvon Chouinard

all images shown from: http://thepursuitaesthetic.tumblr.com/ , http://delicatesoundofthunder.tumblr.com/ , and http://open-bibles.tumblr.com/