When it comes to the special projects in our home, it had to be creating a dining space that took the most “Rip work!” We wanted the dining space to have a look and invitational feel to it like what you’d experience in an old southern antebellum home that’s been renewed into a Bed & Breakfast. We placed an antique service piece, early 1800’s European buffet, where a large closet once occupied some interior real estate, and an 1833 mahogany hutch that we found out, (after examining the back), came from the Sully community in the Village of Whales where the other wall and two closets once stood.
But here is where we began. This 1st photo shows the space the week we moved in during a nice spring day in April, 2018.
If you stood at the front door, this 2nd photo was the view…you saw the large closet on the right hidden by the hutch, the 1st closet on the right, the wall with the 5 panel door that is opened in this photo, that takes you to the hallway. Once in the hallway, there is a 2nd closet on the right with double doors. We (meaning Rip) removed all the closets, walls, and flooring. **Sorry it’s blurry but we took it on our old phones.**
Once you walked straight ahead through the hallway, you were in the kitchen. If you stood in the kitchen and looked back to the front door, that was all you saw…the closets on the left, the door to the guest bathroom, the 5-panel door and a narrow sight line. It all came down!
And then we finally reached the 1st goal — for it all to be opened up.
Once the walls were down, we started patching them. The ceiling and walls both needed a good bit of sheetrock repair. Rip also needed to move that adorable 1951 chandelier over 6 inches so when the table was centered with the door openings, it would hang center with the ‘future’ table. Which, by the way, I had been all over the place trying to find a vintage mahogany dining set. Then, as I was helping a friend move out of her home, she had this set…with 8 chairs and two more leaves…and said she that she and her husband wanted Rip and I to have it for our farmhouse! I asked her, “Are you sure because this has been in your family for some many years?” But my dear friend insisted and we are so deeply grateful to have their table set in our home. They were able to gather around the table with us this past Christmas, too, and THAT was very special!!
But after the walls and ceiling, came the floors. These are the original pine hardwood floors that simply needed to be sanded and sealed.
So, now when you stand in the kitchen and look to the front door, this is the view. It’s open, bright, and when both leaves are in the table, we have plenty of room to expand it.
And this is the view when you stand in the front door today. We took some glass and brass sconces from our master bathroom and mounted them to the right and left of the hutch and that helped give much more light since we opted not to install can lights in the spaces.
The thought was this … to provide a dining and gathering experience that would allow us to pamper guests (and each other) with fine China, crystal goblets, and of course oversized cloth napkins! If you have ever visited a Bed & Breakfast in the south, you are going to enjoy not only the occasional cherry wood and mahogany wood pieces peppered throughout, but it is the true vintage southern hospitality that seems to make you feel most welcome. The moment anyone sits down at a well-prepared table that has been arranged with table linens, dinner ware, drinking glasses, and a beautifully positioned dinner napkin, it causes something.
I absolutely love seeing people stand behind the chairs, taking in the moment of being able to gather around a table that has been provided with ‘them’ in mind, and what inevitably happens?
They smile, shoulders seem to relax, and a sense of calm radiates across their whole demeanor. And I truly believe this is why; they are seeing the prepared opportunity to sit down and enjoy a delicious meal in fellowship with people who … love them. Care for them. And although it’s not ever about the cost or the ‘showiness’ of any of the things on the table, it’s the desire to minister to them and to enjoy laughter, sharing stories and have a delicate moment of expressing what’s in our hearts.
It’s the creative efforts that not only reflect the condition of the heart but touches the hearts of others.
When there has been joy in the efforts, it shows! The elated hospitality that polished the table, ironed the linens, arranged the dishes, positioned the glasses, and decorated with a centerpiece or table scape is what speaks the endearing language of love.
“Love one another as I have loved you,” John 15:12
“..through love, serve one another,” Galatians 5:13
“…abound in love to one another,” 1 Thessalonians 3:12
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous,” 1 Peter 3:8
“…love one another, as He gave us commandment,” 1 John 3:23
“…love one another,” 2 John 1:5
As you think about your home and the moments that matter the most to you, what atmosphere do you long to create?
What experience would you like for your family and friends to always cherish as they ‘think and ponder’ on the home-life expressed in your dwelling place? Is it the gathering together to share a meal, or to simply enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea while taking some time to rest?
We can all live full lives that have days planned and patterned toward productivity. And that’s wonderful, IF we are just as deliberate in slowing down long enough to give thought, intentional and creative thought, to how we as homemakers go about fulfilling our highest calling …