I have learned so much from my friends, some of it not very visual. I mean, I couldn't do a blog post about them that wouldn't be quite wordy, with no pictures! Yet what they have taught me comes through everything I say.
(So, friends, if your house isn't featured here on LMLD, it doesn't mean I haven't learned from you! Because I have!)
But I have one friend whose house I have wanted to show you. It's humble, compared to some houses you see on other blogs, but the inside is bigger than the outside (just as if it were a house in Narnia)...
...and that's because there is a lot of love there.
And from my friend Therese I have learned something that I can only express by showing you...
She is the mother of five children, the youngest of whom is 11.
She's a little bit short, so this little doll house suits her -- although her husband, Rick, is quite tall, and I think he could picture himself in a bigger house!
He's the one who chose it, though, when they were moving here from Ohio. He worked very hard to make it a shelter for his family.
Therese has the knack for taking ordinary, even castoff, things and making them appealing.
In a lot of ways she reminds me of my mother, who also can work this magic with things other people would not give a second look at.
She is someone with perhaps the strongest connection to her roots both of place and of faith, of anyone I know. And that faith is expressed in every corner of her home.
What's funny is that she is from Wisconsin and I tease her that she found the only really Midwestern looking house in Central Massachusetts!
It's a vacation cottage from the turn of the last century that was pretty much falling down the hill when they found it. Surrounded by a development, this little house stands like a sentinel for the idea of "following the old paths" with a stout heart.
I imagine the readers of this space to be like my friend and me -- people with more imagination than money, getting along probably with one income -- caring more about making a home than a grand statement of our buying power!
We don't so much want to know how to decorate for the sake of decorating, but we do want to know how to make the things around us radiate the love we feel for our family. We want to create a sanctuary, but we don't always know how.
So we are going to take a tour, so that you can get a little glimmer of what I mean, because I find it difficult to put into words...
When you come in the front door and look left, this is what you see...the smallest hall looking into the warmest kitchen. You can see all the wood from when it was a getaway in the hills...In the picture above I have my back to the living room. I love the sweet staircase! And note that charming door with the little cut-off part to fit under the stairs. The owner of the manor ducks every time he walks through here!
Now, to tell you what kind of housekeeper she is, I will say that I just showed up one day with my camera -- no warning.
This is just the way it is here, people! On the little landing you can see through to the dining room. I can't tell you how quaint I find this little feature! And of course it's always dusted and cob-web free, which would not be the case chez moi, I can assure you!We'll go up there in a bit.Meanwhile, let's look at the kitchen, shall we? (Even the stairs to the basement that we pass as we go through have a tidy air, don't they?)
The Kitchen.(Remember, this is with no warning. I'm sure she will see this and wish she had "fixed things up" a bit. But we're perfectly happy with the way it is, aren't we?)
When they moved here, they pretty much gutted everything. This kitchen is Therese's brainchild -- her way of getting the look she wanted with the minimum of expenditure.
The house took so long to complete, and we joke as we look back on that time that Rick kept saying, "just two more weeks!" But it was more like 8 months... he's a very optimistic kind of guy!
Almost all of the little dishes that she has up on those shelves have a story. Someday maybe she'll tell us about the ones that were her mother's. See what I mean about the Midwestern flavor of this house? Here in New England, in an old house, you don't usually get these big windows...or so many.
Here by the back door she has her little enamel cups (we share a love for enameled things, I think because we both like stuff that looks a little battered, and like it has a history, but not a grand one. If you are a follower of LMLD, you know that Therese's style is different from mine, but there's a connection, nevertheless!).
These little cuphooks came with the house, as I recall.On a wall in her kitchen she has some old photos and maps of the area. The one in the middle is of this house after the hurricane of '38, which ripped the porch clean off and deposited it, quite intact, across the street!
I admire her because, although very connected to her past, she can put down roots wherever she has to. She never thought she'd leave her hometown, she's not someone with any particular kind of wanderlust, but here she is!
The Living Room.
Looking into the hall towards the kitchen, you can see how she puts her little things everywhere, even in these little niches made by the boards of the walls.
Since the light the day I was there wasn't too great, I didn't take many pictures of the living room, but I want you to see how there were candles burning there, creating a cozy, alive quality you don't always find.
In a corner of the room, below, we find a little reading nook created by two wooden boxes.
That lantern is actually used* when they go out to the porch, which they do all the time -- it's a fantastic wrap-around porch with a great view. I'll have to do another post just on that part of the house, another time. You can remind me!
I don't know the stories behind all the objects above, but I know that the weathervane comes from a building on the farm she grew up on, where her mother still lives.
Therese was so happy to have this St. Joseph statue. "So many statues of St. Joseph are too sugary for my taste, " she says.
The Dining Room.
She found this little hutch at The Cider Mill, a place nearby I've told you about that is like a collision of a giant yard sale and an antiques mall. In my opinion the hutch suits the house perfectly.
A woman of many devotions, she has tucked in the dining room here a prayer corner with the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Each member of the family gathers here to pray at various times, together and alone.
Hospitality is obviously a focal point of life here, and everyone feels very welcomed in this home.
If you turn around you are looking back into the kitchen...
Upstairs Looking Down.
Now, I have one more view to show you. When Therese was little she used to imagine that she lived in a house in which she could see both floors at once. As she grew older she tried to figure out how that would be...
Now she has a house with just such a view. She told me that sometimes at night she stands up here looking down and just thanking God for making her dream come true!Even here there is a little place to remind each person there of his faith...
I'm still learning these lessons... how to bring grace to each corner of life, making each person feel welcomed, loved, and cared for, while turning their gaze to heaven.
*On closer inspection I see that the lantern (and the one on the floor) is brand new and unwrapped! I know that they are collecting lanterns to put out on their porch because especially Rick enjoys so much how the lamplight looks! I definitely have to do another post about that!