The Great Abyss

Photos by Heidi Ryder

Photos by Heidi Ryder

One of the most frequent design dilemmas I am asked about is the dreaded ‘room that is never used’. It’s funny, because I can feel completely satisfied by a room that functions simply as a setting for beautiful design.  My husband, on the other hand, is horrified by that notion.  His ONLY concern is making sure every space in our home has a usable function.  At first, I only half heard his pleas and chalked them up to him not ‘understanding’ the bigger picture.  But as I slowly built homes for our family, I came to realize just how emotionally taxing a misused or underused space can be to our psyche! 

The great abyss doesn’t have to be a large space either. It can be the smallest nook.  It’s really just imagining how you want your home to service your needs and the kind of lifestyle you want to nurture. The tiniest underused space can be reimagined to really work for you if just given a little thought. I even will argue that you can throw out all the rules on this one! Redefining areas with intention and giving them purpose will always make a case for beautiful design. At first glance, I realize I may appear to be overthinking things. But, I promise, if your home is firing on all cylinders it will bring a whole new level of peace and harmony to your life.  This idea is the very core of what The Happy Place is.  

Kitchens are often referred to as the heart of the home.  For my family, that is absolutely the case.  Growing up, our formal living room was a beautiful room, but the only memories it possessed were the rare games of hide and seek when we absolutely didn't want to be found.  As I mentioned before, this type of space gnaws at Nick’s patience. But we live in a 100 year old home that has many ‘formal’ rooms that were indicative of how people lived back then. Two of Nick’s biggest question marks were what were we going to do with our formal living room and the space that functioned as a parlour 100 years ago. Now, I would love to imagine that we could dedicate an entire room to the occasional game night or that mixology party I have been wanting to throw. But it really is a space that deserves to be used more than that. This challenged me to think outside the box in an effort to honor the original purpose of those spaces but make it work for our less formal, more lively lifestyle. 


We enlisted our audio visual expert to help us find a television that could masquerade as a piece of art for the formal living room. I also made sure the couch in the formal living room had ample depth so lounging would be comfy and I chose crisp linen fabric to soften the French doors.  The result is an understated space that has a very put together feel but you aren't afraid to have a snack in! We also lucked out that it directly connected to the parlour where Nick works, takes meetings, and houses his homemade putting green.  For us, the great abyss in our home didn’t push the limits of what one would imagine it would function as. But putting a TV in that wasn’t such an eyesore and making sure the tailored pieces were chalk full of comfort ensured it would be a space you wouldn’t be afraid to relax in. 


Now the truth is, most of our snacking and lounging doesn't happen in this room.  But it now has a purpose! It will be filled with people watching football on Sundays this fall and will no doubt be where I urge guests to enjoy our next game night.  It was the thought of these things that we enjoy in our lives that dictated the starting point for its design and really the best example we have in our new home of living and designing with intention.