Welcome to our living room. It's so cozy, so traditional. It's not at all the type of room I would have decorated, but it's full of some lovely, generous hand-me-downs, so I've mad sit work the best I can.
The rug was in my parent's den when I was a kid, and it followed me to my first adult apartment in Boston and, later, all the way to western Canada, where it will stay. I'm looking forward to trying something a little different and less "earth-toned" when we move to Mississippi.
Most of the rest of the furniture is from Ikea, except for rocking chair, which was my great-grandmother's, and the small brown bookshelf, which was in my grandfather's office when he was still practicing as a doctor in small-town Arkansas. The piano is on loan from our landlords, and it plays beautifully!
My favorite things in this room are the children's toys: the barn and wooden figures by Ostheimer, a few other wooden and cloth toys I've acquired over the years, and a set of play silks and a wand I made myself. I really dislike most toys on the market for aesthetic reasons: they are too loud, garish, plastic, and breakable. It's just a personal preference, and I certainly don't care if anyone else buys them. But if I'm going to have to live with toys strewn all over my house for a decade, they darn well better be nice for me to look at. And I love my kids' toys. I think they do, too. They toys we keep in the living room are the toys they play with most often and the ones I will keep around until (hopefully) I have grandchildren who want to play with them.
I also keep an odd assortment of little items on display that I like to look at: a stone carving I bought on a work trip to Nunavut, a bowl of seashells collected on family trips to St. George Island, a pair of prints that show the views from our old apartment in Würzburg. A large framed print by my friend and print maker Jesse Marsolais hangs above a hand-carved bowl I bought at an antique shop in Florida, which I use to hold my knitting. Above the couch I've hung a triptych that was part of my senior photography thesis. It shows an early morning view of the cypress trees that grow on the edge of Bearskin Lake in Scott, Arkansas. These photographs follow me everywhere, reminding me of the quietly lakeside life I dream of living one day, when I can move closer to family and home.
And on the bookshelves, I keep a collection of framed family photographs. None of these photos are from the lovely family photoshoots I've paid for over the years by some very talented photographer friends (I hang those everywhere else in the house). These are just casual snapshots that bring a smile to my face every time I see them: Archer's christening; Colin as a baby at Kevin's parents house; my mom, dad and aunt dancing three-sheets-to-the-wind at my cousin's wedding. Those photographs are kind of like everything else in this room: Nothing glamorous, but it all makes me smile.