the wasted space

Marian ParsonsLiving Room, My House31 Comments

I’ve always thought of the formal living room in our house as a bit of a waste.

The original part of our home was built in 1948 and this little room, right when you walk in the front door was the only living area.  Though it’s small, it was very well designed.  It’s opened to the dining room with a wide arch and windows face south and west, letting in lovely light all day.  When the windows are open in the adjacent dining room and the living room, a nice cross breeze flows through the space…certainly a pre-central-air-conditioning essential.

But when the owners before us added on a new kitchen, a master suit, and a family room, that little living room became redundant.  I also didn’t see much versatility in the space, since you walk smack into it from the front door.  “Hello, welcome to my workout room/play room/home office, etc…” didn’t really work for me.

So, I followed tradition and used it as a formal living room.  It’s always been one of my favorite rooms in the house, because of the light and because it could be a “pretty room”.  I didn’t have to think about seating that would be comfortable for moving-watching or a wrestle-friendly coffee table.

Despite it being one of my favorite rooms, I always felt like we underutilized that square footage.

Now that everything is packed and shrink-wrapped, I realized that I didn’t give this room enough credit.  Jeff voiced today exactly what I was thinking.  “I really miss those chairs in the living room and now I realize how much I actually sat in there!”

And I have realized that, too, as I walk through the house, trying to find a quiet place for a phone call or  for Jeff and I to steal away a private conversation, or just to take a breath.  Sometimes I just need a breath.  The chair I would usually sit in is now cocooned in shrink wrap.

It’s been a reminder to me how easy it is to overlook the value of something until it’s gone.

This discovery has also brought me some satisfaction.  This room wasn’t just a room prettied up for the pictures.  It wasn’t a wasted space at all.  It was utilized for moments of quiet, reflection, connection, and rest.

And if that isn’t valuable?  I don’t know what is.

the wasted space

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31 Comments on “the wasted space”

  1. It was a pretty and relaxing room. I probably would have read there. Lots of natural light. In your case, it definitely was not wasted space.

  2. This post reminded me the book “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Almanzo’s family’s parlor in New York was a place that the kids weren’t allowed into except when guests came (or to clean it). I remember the description of the kids trying to sit on the horsehair sofa without slipping off and laughing hysterically when they did. And Almanzo’s horror when he damaged the wallpaper in a fight with his sister. I like having a functional house, but having kids, I’d love to have a room of “wasted space” like that. Imagine being able to have someone drop in anytime and at least have one presentable room in which to entertain them and not be embarrassed!

  3. We are also moving & have sold one house & buying another. Moving is expensive, stressful & exciting. I wish you luck. May I ask where you are going. We are going from Va to Tn.

  4. What a sweet room it was and your next home will have a quiet, pretty room for sure because you know the value of it. Sure love your blog and looking forward to your next big adventure!

  5. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the cotton boll pillow again. I grew up in Southeast VA and we could stand on our porch and see cotton fields. I’ve searched the internet for one and have been unsuccessful, do you recall where this came from? I know moving is bitter sweet for you but am looking forward to all your posts as you make a new house your home.

  6. I’ve always loved that room Marian………… are so right…….it is so easy to overlook the true value of something until you don’t have it anymore. These kinds of choices are always hard…………especially today, when the heartcry of so many is “Just get rid of it and Let it go”. My siblings and I when we cleaned out my parents house, took a few things, that we didn’t have time to “go through”, but decided to save things in a few tubs and save those discoveries for later. Well now, 5 years later, several childhood treasures have been unearthed and have brought up so many memories………………………that many years later, it is so good to make a sweet discovery again. My mom kept “everything”. Sometimes, things that are really of value don’t look like it at first glance. I know your new home will be special and beautiful because God is preparing it for you. Your memories will accompany you in the form of some possessions and they will mingle and meet new ones in your future. Praying for your heart’s desires……………….through it all, because He knows. Linda

  7. We have a beautiful, wasted-space of a parlor, and lately I have been fretting about that and wondering what can we do differently to maximize the space. Now I know! Nothing!!! Thanks so much for your insight! (I loved that room in your house, too!)

  8. A room that’s used to sit and talk with family, friends, or spouse, that’s used to quietly sit and read or write or draw or do needlework, that’s used to just sit looking out the window and daydream……well, that’s not wasted space by any stretch of the imagination! 🙂

  9. I totally agree, I used to go into the forbidden living room to seek some quiet or talk on the phone.

    Love the rug you had in there, where might I find a rug similar to yours? Where did you get it?

  10. I LOVE that room, Marian! Your design esthetic speaks to me in every way. I absolutely love everything in that room!

  11. I agree about the wasted space of formal areas. I love the whole great room idea where family room, sitting room, library, play area and tv zone is in the one great big room with different zones. It’s just the way our family lives; we all like being around each other but doing our own thing. It is nice though to have an area to zone out!

  12. I had a room exactly like that in our family home, before my husband passed. After, I had to sell the huge home and downsize into retirement. I miss our PARLOR: the place where we entered the house, but no one ever went except the grown-ups, to catch our breath, to pray, to have a private chat with one of the six kids. When my husband became ill, we put his “Mr. Chair” (old leather recliner) in there so he could nap without interruption. It, too, was in the old part of our home, with wainscot paneled walls, rather formal. Our family room was where everything good and everything bad that ever happened in our family was discussed and prayed about as a family. But our Parlor was rather private – a special haven.

  13. I, too, love that space! When I think of your home, that room is pictured in my mind. The parlor or living room is almost a thing of the past. Hopefully, your new home has one , and you can make it a special space just as you’ve done here. A move is hard on all, but it’s the people that make a home. I pray your children will transition well as your family begins this new chapter. Can’t wait to see what kind of magic you’ll do with your new dwelling! May God bless you and your family!

  14. When open concept homes became popular, formal rooms went away. Now I read where builders are hearing from buyers they want more semi-open concept floor plans but with more defined living spaces and thus formal living areas have started making a comeback.

    While I don’t care for a chopped up floor plan, I have never been a fan of a “all” open floor plan either so I say your home had the best of both worlds. Hope you will be giving us a big “reveal” soon on where you are moving. I know you mentioned you had sold your home and we are heading into July so I am sure you are under the gun.

  15. Not only is your living room a beautiful, functional space, it’s a great location to stage a packing photo like the one you featured. It inspires me to make my packing process prettier next time!

    I agree that it can be challenging to get as much functionality as possible from a house that was designed by someone else and who probably lived a different lifestyle. It sounds like you knew instinctively how to do that, even in a room that at first seemed redundant.

  16. Our house also has both a formal living room and a family room, so we lined the walls of the living room with bookshelves from an old school library, and made it our library. I too go there when I want a quiet place to sit, and my son and I both use it to practice our respective musical instruments. A living room would have been redundant, but the space is not wasted.

  17. I have a house from the 1920s and it only has one living area, which has our TV in it. It’s a constant mess — or at least looks very lived in. It would be nice sometimes to have a parlor where I wouldn’t be embarrassed if people suddenly stopped by.
    Your room was beautiful! And I love the Ingalls Wilder comparison!

  18. My friend Cid, who is a Realtor, refers to all living rooms as the Christmas Room.
    Gotta say other than that use , many LR are wasted.

  19. Today’s post is like a love letter to your home. What a wonderful send-off and way to say “thank you” for all that it gave you! :). Now I need to remember this when it’s my turn to to move!

  20. A peaceful place is certainly well sought-after.

    We too had a formal living room – but since we didn’t add on to this house – we simply use as my music room housing my 7.5 foot vintage grand piano. ♫ ♪

    Wishing you life’s best.

  21. You could make any room look fabulous! I just adore your home and I can’t wait to see what you do in the next one. When we moved a year ago I told myself over and over to “enjoy the process”. While I was excited to finally be settled again, there was a lot to be said for the excitement of preparing for that moment as well. I promised myself I wouldn’t kill myself to finish unpacking. Instead I took my time and I’m so glad I did! You have much to look forward to!!

  22. In both our current home and our former home, we have been blessed with a room that is more formal LR and another that’s more of a family room. The TV room, if you will 😉 By “formal” I don’t mean a room that’s super-duper fancy….just a room that’s devoted to less busy activities.

    People have said “Oh I bet you never use your formal LR, do you?” But like your little original LR, yes we do! In both houses our formal LR is the place where we sit quietly reading or visiting with each other….no TVs, no music, sometimes just enjoying the scenery outside our window. We also use that room for Sunday afternoon naps 🙂 In our current LR we have room for our grand piano and thus I’m in the room a lot practicing.

    In today’s world where we think we need to have everyone around us all the time (i.e. open concept homes!) eventually we realize that a “quiet, pretty room” is quite nice to have….if we’re lucky.

    I love that room of yours, by the way.

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