Be Careful Your House Isn’t Turning into a Museum


When I was a boy I lived down the street from a very nice Italian couple with whose son I played soccer. Their upstairs was an immaculately tailored, somewhat palatial throwback to the ole world palazzo they likely left behind in Milan, decorated in traditionally heavy wood-designed sofas, love seats, coffee and end tables, with family photos, porcelain figurines and various other knickknacks neatly arranged inside lit, glass curios. The sheers were starched so stiff they never moved and the valances and side panels were made of funereal-weighted brocade, likely to crush a small poodle if ever dislodged from their rods. Not that people, much less house pets were allowed upstairs.

My friend and I usually passed these rooms en route to the basement to play video games where a completely different set of home furnishings greeted the eye; lumpy and lived in, complete with another kitchen where the real cooking was done. When I asked my friend about the upstairs, he replied, “Oh, nobody really goes up there.”

And I have to admit, it truly looked as though nobody had, except to keep the place so immaculately dusted from floor to ceiling one could almost lick the hair on the shag carpet without any concern for developing a hairball. I also had another friend whose grandmother kept the plastic shrink wrap on the cloth cushions of her sofa, chairs and loveseat, as explained to me, “…so that they wouldn’t wear out.”

Okay. Now I thought this time had passed…but no, and, silly me. I cannot tell you how many times I have clientele come looking for “just a couch” or “just a chair” and when asked ‘what room is it going in?’, I get the reply, “oh, it’s a room we don’t really use. I just need to fill a space so it doesn’t look bare.” 

Really?!? I mean, what is the point to having rooms never to be explored or worse, decorated in a manner to discourage you from ever spending time in them?  Alas, such ‘preservation’ mentality’ is alive and well today, bolstered by couples young and old, still in search of furniture, merely to fill rooms they have absolutely no intention of ever using once the pieces selected have been neatly arranged inside  – ‘for show’. 

Humbly, I beseech a moment of reconsideration herein.  Because ‘every’ room in your house should serve a functional purpose. Moreover, each space should beckon you to spend hours of enjoyment there…and yet, another revelation. Hold onto your hats, folks: furniture is meant to be sat on. Shocker!

So, if your house is on its way, or has already become cluttered in esthetic artefacts never again to be touched by the hand of man, then perhaps it is high time to rethink the purpose of these rooms. At present, they certainly share nothing in common with the idea of ‘living space’. They are a ‘mausoleum’ of expensive antiquities that money can buy. That is all.

And fun fact of the day: personalizing your living space, whether great or small or somewhere in between, should be more about the process – not the destination. Living space is alive with the thoughts and ideas you introduce to it; ever-evolving as your personal tastes and as the things inside slowly, and even more inevitably wear out with normal use and the predictable passage of time.

Yes – eventually you ‘fill’ the space with ‘stuff’. But it should be meaningfully optioned ‘stuff’, not simply chosen because ‘dimensionally’ it covers enough floor area to reduce the echo chamber quality of an empty tomb.

And something else to consider; just because a room has been placed in a particular area of the house does not, and should never limit you to exploring alternative usages for it. Example: a three bedroom house does not require the occupant to own three bedroom suites, unless, of course, the occupant wishes these for their children, out-of-town company, etc. I have a client, a single guy, who has three bedrooms and doesn’t know what to do with them. “I just closed the door for now so I don’t have to look at that empty space.”

A bedroom suite seems to make sense because – no kidding – it’s a bedroom by architectural design. But hey, what’s wrong with converting a bedroom into a study; or a hobby room, a reading nook, a home office, a games room, man cave, or any number of other plausible and ‘functional’ spaces that will offer daily use and, more importantly, hourly satisfaction.

Don’t ‘fill’ a space with furniture just because it’s required.

Don’t ‘fill’ a space with furniture just because it’s required. ‘Create’ the space you desire with design elements to fully explore the person that you are. There is a fine line of distinction between making your home a showplace and turning it into a museum full of artefacts you don’t ever want to touch or let anyone else experience either.

It’s an old, though nevertheless relevant cliché; that it takes more than furniture to turn a house into a home. But there is so much today that can be done. And it never ceases to amaze me just how much can be done, regardless of the space, when the heart and mind are willing to give a certain space just a little extra consideration.

Think your way through a room. Do not just dump a bunch of ‘stuff’ in it; especially stuff you never intend to revisit or use. Each piece of furniture is important.  As every piece of clothing you purchase is meant to be worn, so too every chair, chaise, coffee table and so on is to be touched by many human hands, feet, and all other body parts between.

Live in your rooms and on your furniture. Don’t live for them!

1 Comment
  1. Aw, this was a really good post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a superb article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get anything done.|

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