Monday, April 8, 2013

A Welcoming Kind of House

"Cecilia's and Emmeline's house was in Oudernarde Road, which runs quietly down into Abbey Road, funnel of traffic and buses. It had big windows, arched stairs and wrought-iron steps at the back leading down to a small garden. Cecilia, hesitant over the agent's order, looking about at the temptingly sunny spaces of floor, had remarked: 'It's a long way from everybody we know...' But Emmeline said: 'We never know whom we are going to meet.' From the first glance the house had smiled at them and was their own. So here they had settled." 

--  from "To The North" by Elizabeth Bowen


I have always loved this quote from To the North by Elizabeth Bowen. It is a poignant book about two young women in their twenties living together in London and finding their place in the world. One is an orphan and the other is newly widowed. Finding the right house is of paramount importance to their sense of safety and stability. The idea that "the house had smiled at them and was their own" struck me as so true. It made think about the elements that go into making a house a welcoming kind of place, a house that smiles at us and shelters us from the storm. A house that we love and and want to make our own. Of course it is different for everyone, but here are some ingredients that I think make a house a haven.

A cheerful front door

A cozy sitting room 

A fireplace

Window panes to look through on a rainy day

A sunny kitchen

Blue and white crockery

 A room with a view

A snug bedroom

A touch of tartan

A smattering of red

A room to call our own

Books and flowers

 A writing desk

A reading nook


Outdoor seating

Climbing roses

And last but not least, there is a certain something, a quality that is hard to define. It could be the lighting at dusk, the patina of the bricks or the fragrance of the garden. We may sense past generations who have lived there and we feel a connection. The emotion is strong, even mysterious. We are at home.

Images via Pinterest
Last image from Howards End


  1. I so agree. I love it when our most comfortable place to spend our time is in our own home. We homebodies understand that. Have a wonderful week Sunday.

  2. I've been wanting to read this book for a while & this quote makes me want to even more.

  3. Oh everything looks inviting. Yes, there must be a place to curl up with a book. I hope you are have a grand beginning to your week. Bonnie

  4. A wonderful post. Each photo inspirational and yes, charmingly cozy and even fragrant as I can almost smell the roses.

  5. This is absolutely fetching, Sunday. Thank you.

  6. make me want to be in this house...right at this moment!

  7. This is so warm and inviting, just the kind of place I want to be. I could read through this post again and again. You are right about that mysterious element that draws you in. I think it is composed of tiny bits of all the other elements you have mentioned.


  8. I wish I'd read this post in the afternoon. Reading it this morning makes me want to stay home all day, and I can't! Beautiful, cozy images. I've never read any Elizabeth Bowen, but have "The Death of the Heart" on my nightstand.

  9. A touch of the English country houses,especially the first one,fires,silver,and afternoon tea,bliss.
    I have not read any of her books (will remedy this soonest!) thank you for the introduction.

    Have a new coffee table book by Nicky Haslam showing his beautiful country house in Hampshire,
    the book title is Folly de Grandeur.Maybe you have seen/own a copy,your pictures reminded me
    of the book.Judith/Ida

  10. You've hit the nail on the head about what makes a house a cozy home. I agree with all you said and am happy to say that every one of those elements are in our cottage.