Thirty Days of Thanksgiving: Day 13 – The Keeping Room

This is part of a series called “Thirty Days of Thanksgiving”. 

A compilation of what I am most thankful. In no certain order. Just those things most near and dear to me.

It’s now my most favorite space in our home.  It didn’t start off that way, though. Three years ago, when we purchased the house, I had absolutely no idea what to do with it. It just didn’t feel like home. Honestly, I wondered if it ever would.

And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. When our “Denver Family” arrived for a visit, the first words out of their mouths were, “This house doesn’t feel like a Swanson house!”

“Yea, tell me about it,” I thought to myself.

It’s not that the area was small. I like small. Small is cozy. Small is inviting. However, this house, specifically the upper level, has a rather odd lay out.  Not to mention the entire space was painted a stark baby blue with ultra-modern light fixtures and fluorescent lights. Not quiet my style. And definitely not the warm and cozy home that I’d left in Denver.

Living Room before we moved in.

To me, it’s memories that make a house a home. That house was full of memories with family and friends. Baby’s homecoming. College student gatherings. Church picnics. Birthday parties. Music recitals. BBQs. And just many, many other precious memories. This new house had no memories. And it didn’t feel like home. Since we’ve moved a lot, this wasn’t a new predicament. Yet, it seemed much more daunting than it ever had.

The kitchen before we moved in.

Still, I needed to make my mark on this house. My “frugal” mark. No interior decorators were being hired for this job. It was all me…and my husband because he gives my ideas and dreams “life”. (i.e. he does all the work of painting, building, hanging lights, etc.) So, I just lived with it for a while. Two years to be exact. Trying to figure out how our family would (or could) use the space efficiently and effectively. And allowing time for memories to be made to hopefully inspire me.

The dining room before we moved in.

Then, about a year ago, one of my Southern friends shared with me how she was decorating her “Keeping Room”.

“What is a Keeping Room?” I asked.

She said, “You have got to be kidding me! You are a Southern girl, you must know what a Keeping Room is.”

Originally, the term “Keeping Room,” referred to the large central room in the homes of the early settlers during the Colonial days. Similar to family rooms today, it was where the family would cook, eat, and gather together. A warm place where people talked, learned, and lived.

“That’s it!” I thought. That is what this space needs to be…a Keeping Room.

I pictured it in my mind. A space where family and guests could sit and relax, as I prepared meals. A nice comfy couch to cuddle up on and read or discuss our day. Even an area devoted to music, where we would place the piano. And lest I forget, the center of the room would be home to a large table where we would gather to eat, play games and learn (home school).

The music area

We reconfigured the entire space. From moving furniture to re-wiring light fixtures to painting. So long fluorescent lights and baby blue walls. Ironically, the wall colors we selected were the same ones we’d used in Denver: espresso brown, terra cotta red and moss green. Too bad I didn’t make that decision two years earlier, eh?

The eating/learning/living area

When you enter our home and walk into the Keeping Room, the first thing you see is our dining area, anchored by a large farmhouse table with hidden leaves that seats 10. This is a pretty special area to our family. We love having folks over and truly believe something significant happens when we gather around a table to share a meal. It’s more than merely offering sustenance. It’s a sacred time of fellowship and thought-provoking conversations. A place where dreams are birthed and hearts are shared. And laughter. Lots of laughter.

The relaxing/reading area

Connected to the dining area is the reading nook, which is well-loved and used by everyone in our family. Most evenings before bedtime, you will find us piled upon the couch reading books. My comfy couch, which I brought from Denver, fits perfectly in this former dining area, located just off the kitchen. Friends and family can relax and chat while I cook.  And as Jadon and Jamison have discovered, it serves as a nice place to take a nap, too.

Lastly, the Keeping Room includes my creative space, the kitchen. Here I cook, create and unwind from the cares of the day. Perhaps not the biggest or most modern in comparison with others I’ve seen, it still serves it’s purpose. Providing me an area to create expressions of love and nourishment for my family and friends.

The creative space (aka the kitchen)

So, as silly as it might sound, I am thankful for our “Keeping Room”. Our family spends so much time in this area: reading, eating, learning, playing games and music, along with connecting with friends. Thankfully, patience paid off. Memories have been made and it feels like home.

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