When family and friends gather... #tahillafarm

'Morning' painted by Amy Katherine Browning
Photo credit:  Joanna Dunham

Many Americans are thinking about their Thanksgiving table this week and the love and warmth that will flow around it. It is a special time of year and I admit it is one of the things about living in New England that I miss most. The air will be crisp, the fireplaces will be stoked, the Thanksgiving meal will be creating it's magic in ovens and stove tops, music will fill the silence until guests arrive and then..it will be laughter and joy which will be followed by utter exhaustion and deep contentment that the day is done and thoughts will travel to  Christmas. I love a New England Thanksgiving. This is our 15th Thanksgiving away from the USA...and I can tell you no matter how hard we try, it is never the same. My solution is to store it all up and create the magic when the family gathers at Christmas.

It is with all of this in mind that Mr. H and I consider our family gathering space at Tahilla Farm. Below are photos taken of our kitchen and dining room while living in New Zealand. The farmhouse style table on the left is from our days living in Australia and the one on the right is from our time in New Zealand. Both tables were made by local craftsman. At this moment, neither table is where it is suppose to be. We should have the one on the left at Tahilla Farm and the one on the right with us at Chateau Mango..but the reverse is true. A little hiccup in my planning before moving from England. Eventually I imagine both tables will end up at Tahilla Farm...and that is when the fun begins.

We caught up with our architect by speakerphone last week for another productive meeting. I am happy to report that he read my last post and understands where I am coming from. Mr. H has other ideas but I will save that for another time.

Today..let's just talk tables. Mr H and I are in agreement that we would like a dining space with a view and one with plenty of room to move about without bumping into walls or furniture. We are going for an open plan room..kitchen, living, dining. It is the first for us so we are keen to think out every little detail. 

Gil Schafer III 'The Great American House'

The gathering space above created by Gil Schafer is perfect. Tahilla Farm is not as grand but it is a good reference point as are the windows in the home below. I talked about windows in an earlier post...Tahilla Farms seems to be all about windows with Mr. H. Both options are ideal.

Architectual Digest

The photo below is one of my first 'pins' for my Pinterest Farmhouse file, before Tahilla Farm was a reality. I always liked the idea of a table in the vicinity of a fireplace. I can not imagine anything dearer on a cold winter's night.

House Beautiul Magazine via

Last summer I was digging around the local used book shop and discovered the book, Barn Style Homes. I took a pic of the dining area, loving the bay shaped windows..it gives just a bit more extra space. Perfect for a lage gathering.

Barn Style Homes  Photo by F&E Schmidt

The question of the formal dining room comes up often. Mr. H is an emphatic no on that one...for me, if a library was involved, I would go there and I have just the room and dining table in mind. 

Architectural Digest  Photo: Peter Aaron/Esto

So tell me, how do you dine?

Do you gather in a formal dining room or in the kitchen?

Do you have a view, a fireplace or favourite piece of artwork close by?

How many people will your table seat?

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving with a large crowd, 
how do you accommodate everyone?

If you have an open plan kitchen, living and dinging area..
do you have any advice for us?

Your advice so far has been fabulous, keep it coming!

Before you go..

If you enjoy having friends and family gather at your home,
you may enjoy this poem by Edgar A. Guest.

'Studio Supper' painted by Amy Katherine Browning
Photo credit: Joanna Dunham

When Friends Drop In

It may be old-fashioned, but the times I like the best
Are not the splendid parties with the women gaily dressed,
And the music tuned for dancing and the laughter of the throng,
With a paid comedian's antics or a hired musicians song,
But the quiet times of friendship, with the chuckles and the grin,
And the circle at the fireside when a few good friends drop in.

There's something 'round the fireplace that no club can imitate,
And no throng can ever equal just a few folks near the grate;
Though I sometimes like an opera, there's no music quite so sweet
As the singing of the neighbours that you're always glad to meet;
Oh, I know when they come calling that the fun will soon begin,
And I'm happiest those evenings when a few friends drop in.

There's no pomp of preparation, there's no style or sham or fuss;
We are glad to welcome callers who are glad to be with us,
And we sit around and visit or we start a merry game,
And we show them by our manner that we're mighty pleased they came,
For there's something real about it, and the yarns we love to spin,
And the time flies, Oh, so swiftly when a few good friends drop in.

Let me live my life among them, cheerful, kindly folks and true,
And I'll ask no greater glory till my time of life is through;
Let me share the love and favor of the few who know me best,
And I'll spend my time contented till my sun sinks in the west;
I will take what fortune sends me and the little I may win,
And be happy on those evenings when a few good friends drop in.

Edgar A. Guest

Thank you for dropping in and best wishes
to all ...may your home be filled with love and laughter!

Jeanne xx


  1. Just finished a clients house that has a library as a dining room as in your picture from AD with a fireplace & windows + they adore it + they will have thanksgiving dinner in the room, lots of family.& friends + comfortable dinning chairs.Happy thanksgiving to you & yours. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

    1. I think it is a great way to go..and perfect for the holidays. The best use of space all year long. Thank you Peggy and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. KITCHEN,that is where we dine.I turned the dining room into my office a few years back because it was too small.Not comfortable for entertaining!I can seat about 10 around the table and my table looks pretty much like your AUSTRALIAN table!My table came from MACY'S!It is old and was used in the Mens department for sweaters as a display piece!They were tossing it out in the DUMPSTER!I went dumpster diving and took it home!I knew the display guy and well he rang and said ,"GET DOWN HERE WITH TWO TRUCKS!!!"I did as I was told………..Your ideas are good.I agree with you……..just remember it can get pretty warm in the room if you have the fireplace close.Then again I live in California not the EAST COAST so you have more of a reason to be warm!XXX

    1. I love your Macy's story La Contessa...I can just imagine the whole scenario! Good point on the fireplace..many thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!! xx

  3. I can imagine the joy of your first Thanksgiving in the States ... and also missing all the beautiful places you have lived. Many blessings to you this Thanksgiving. I imagine it is hot in Saigon.


    1. It is Glenda...but living vicariously through you all has been a lot of fun! Thank you and best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. I hope they like your menu as much as I do.. xx

  4. posting to my fb page "When Friends Drop By". so lovely and true. happy thanksgiving to you and yours from across the miles on long island. xx anne kelly (aka...fanci)

    1. Thank you Anne...so glad you enjoy it! Happy Thanksgiving!! xx

  5. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well Jeanne .... I love your choice of paintings in this post. It seems Mr. H is not alone, formal dining rooms seem to be a thing of the past. I like the idea of kitchen/dining/living area being relatively visible to each other; not one big room, something like the bay shaped window photo.

    My family has gone to Indiana to be with the grandchild, but I prefer not to travel on the holidays. Spending the night in a hotel room for lace of space is not the place for me. I see them and share special meals with them other times of the year. I will be with good friends and their family, whom I know well and enjoy greatly.

    I hope you enjoy a lovely stroll through all that we have to be thankful for. Last year my friend decided to make a list of all the things she was thankful for, and it was very long. I suspect it would be the same for many of us. I saw a quote the other day, something along the lines of "to be born at all is like winning the greatest lottery possible" ... it definitely caused me to pause.

    Karen in VA

    1. It would cause me to pause too Karen..there is so much to be thankul for. We are blessed. Sending you warm wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving... xx

  6. The perfect poem at the end of another great post Jeanne. You conjured up so many memories of great Thanksgivings with family and friends. I very much miss my formal dining room from Houston. It was square and could seat easily 12 +. Sadly it wasn't often that I even had that many for a formal meal with family living so far away. When my parents built their new home, they too incorporated (for the 1st time) the open concept of living. I have to say it is the most ideal entertaining home. It was just the right size for the two of them, but the large room could also accommodate their hand scraped table that sat 10 for a meal. The front of the house was floor to ceiling windows and also along the other side of that room. When you spoke of plenty of dining room, and a view at the farm, my parents home is what I thought about.

    I can't agree more that its hard to recreate Thanksgiving from outside of the US. It will be sad on Thursday as I work and think of my family all gathered together. I'll think of you too Jeanne. Hopefully your family will all be together for Christmas and new memories can be made.

    Cheers xx Deb

    1. Wonderful images from what you just explained Deb...thank you! Hope you had a wonderful day and did managed to catch up with your family via Skype or phone..ah, the life we lead. It has it's ups and downs, that's for sure. xx

  7. Hello Jeanne

    "Morning" is the perfect painting. The light and joy as rendered by the artist speaks volumes.
    Your choice of table for Tahilla is perfect.

    The library would be my choice too. We did have a fireplace in the renovated dining room of our farm (actually it was a Vermont casting enamel wood stove). There were times it was too hot. On reflection likely the hot dinners and large crowds (one time we had 18 for dinner) contributed to the temperature too. Often the door was flung open to release the heat. Not so with the upstairs original bedrooms LL Bean flanels were the fashion. One night it was so cold my husband wore his toque. Hee Hee. I shall say no more, except to say Victoria Secret did not get any buiness from us then.
    A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
    Next year Israel, oops I mean New England.

    Helen xx

    1. ..Best wishes Helen..sounds like you have wonderful gatherings. I am thinking long and hard on the library idea, it has lots of possibilities..even if in the barn. Funny you should mention LL Bean...I have my eyes on an large men's flannel plaid...one day I know it will feel wonderful. Best to you Helen...xx

  8. Dear Jeanne: I happen to love the Thanksgiving day feast. We celebrate in a dining room that is casual, yet a bit formal: somewhere in between. We have an open concept living room and dining room, which allows us to see and feel the warmth of the fireplace that is in the living room. My husband and I will cook for my immediate family. There will be six of us, which is a small group. There is a piece of Chinese artwork on the long wall in the dining room. It is actually a scarf his sister brought from China. We had it framed, and it is beautiful. I am sorry this is a long comment, however, I wanted to answer your questions.
    I love the paintings and poem you chose. Thank you for sharing. Even though you are far from the U.S. and may not celebrate a traditional American Thanksgiving holiday, I wish you happiness and good health.

    1. Kathleen...I love long comments so never fear when you are commenting here. Your room sounds wonderful and I love the idea of the focal point on your Chinese artwork. Best wishes Kathleen..I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving..xx

  9. Happy Thanks Giving Jeanne
    No matter where you are hope it is lovely
    Xxx Julie

    1. Thank you Julie..so wonderful to see your face again! Will pop into say hello...xx

  10. Think about the library/ dr combo. When we moved into our house 27 years ago, it was important to me to have dinner as a family every night. So I designated the family room (with fireplace!) as a distinct dr as opposed to a space at the end of the living room. Now the room is used sporadically so it is now a library/ sitting room ( with fireplace!). It takes about 5 minutes to convert into dining space but it is always available to sit with a book!

    1. Sounds perfect Pat...you are a clever planner and you have me thinking...love it! Best wishes...xx

  11. Thanksgiving is one of the holidays I've always been jealous of:-) It's such a nice tradition to focus on being thankful.
    I dine neither in a formal dining room nor kitchen. I have a tiny apartment. Nevertheless, I love having people visit. I think the current record is 26 people seated for a 5 course Italian dinner! We have a Danish saying - I don't know if you have the same? - 'where there is room in the heart there is room in the house'

    1. Carina..I am so impressed...26 people for a 5 course Italian dinner...a labour of love. Your Danish expression is a keeper...thank you!! xx

  12. Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans. Here in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October. As for Dining, here at our house, we dine in our kitchen and in our Dining Room. We like our Dining tables overlooking our big windows and looking out our garden. Your ideas above are gorgeous,

  13. Jeanne I love the idea of an open concept for all three rooms. We had the similar set up at the last three houses we lived in, we also had a formal dining room in each house...the current house which we have lived in 7 years has never had a meal eaten in it.

    Our kitchen/keeping room has a large farmhouse table next to a 2 sided fireplace, the other side is the family room.

    I love all of your ideas! And am looking forward to more!

    1. Loving the idea of a double sided fireplace Elizabeth...family room/ kitchen..very interesting! Thank you!! xx

  14. Happy Thanksgiving Jeanne...
    The dining quandary... here goes...

    In London we eat in the kitchen but as we are always moving it doesn't count... :)

    France we have a kitchen that we can eat in and a dining room... the kitchen we tend to eat in during the winter and in summer we eat outside so the formal 'dining room' has become a bit of a thoroughfare ... as the house is open plan it works that way...

    I do love setting it up for Christmas and parties and that is when a separate room comes into it's own... although it's only several times a year that it's used like that...
    Very often I work on the table in there because the sun shines in and I can spread out...

    My solution would be if space allows to have the two... if not go with the open kitchen/dining... it's a great way to live and it works well...

    Happy planning... xv

    1. Thank you Vicki...loved imagining the flow of your rooms. I can pick up bits and pieces remembering various posts on your blog. Funny how the dining room table often become a catch all...in our last two houses I used an old dining room table as a desk. I miss it..which makes me think, we may need a dining room... xx

  15. Jeanne,
    Thank you for a beautiful and warm Thanksgiving message. The artist and the poem are both quite moving. It's always been just the four of us except for an occasional trip out west to Arizona to be with family. I do set a special table and force myself to venture out hunting and gathering for a natural centerpiece of some sort.

    I've always imagined everyone else's Thanksgiving to be grand with homes and tables full of feast and family. I suppose that's why I try to keep everyone involved in the kitchen with parades and football games on high volume in the background. No matter where we are and who we are with, it's the giving thanks for what we do have that matters. Life is funny isn't it ~

    The Porters send good tidings of joy to the Enriques family for a wonderful holiday season at Chateau Mango!

    1. You are a sweetheart Lisa..thank you! You got me on huntering and gathering for natural centerpieces. I am putting it all together in my mind from reading your blog and I agree..life is funny..and here we are. ;) xx

  16. Love all your plans for your beloved farm - it will be perfect. Happy holidays Jeanne - though we don't celebrate it here in Oz, here's cheers to you and your family. F xx

    1. Thank you Francesa...so happy that you can join along and be a part of it....xx

  17. May you gather around your table be it grand or humble, in a large room or small, with those you love.
    May you be filled with joy and thankful hearts.
    May your life cause others to smile.
    xo Carole

    1. Beautiful...thank you Carole..best wishes to you and yours.. xx

  18. Hi Jeanne,
    Love all your dining photos...we have nothing so grand. We dine on our lanai, surrounded by windows and breezy palms with a view of our outdoor living room (Phillipe Starck bubble sofa, armchairs). Our table is square, a Crate & Barrel expandable piece seating 8. We sit on fold-up party chairs from Linen & Lace--well, Bed, Bath, and Beyond has them, too. I painted them a beautiful plumbago blue color...a nice contrast to the aqua wall and the massive lime-green palm leaves :)
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Mr. H. You will love the open plan!!!

    1. It all sounds so festive and beautiful Becky...sounds like Vietnam. I can relate.. xx

  19. lovely post!

    and that light in the Morning painting was transformative, thank you.

    good to hear that you have a receptive and Modern architect that listens and reads and understands and will deliver what you need.

    1. Thank you Gloria...so glad you enjoyed the painting, it speaks volumes. xx

  20. Like my friend teamgloria above, I am crazy about these paintings!!! And I can't believe that I am behind on your posts--proof that I have been "in the weeds" as waiters say.
    Remi and I both have always dreamed of a library/dining room. We almost made it happen in our current apartment but since it was a rental, we decided not to invest in the bookshelves. Good thing to since we have been given the boot! But it is such a romantic idea...add Peggy's touch of a fireplace and I would never leave...
    I do love fireplaces and could honestly have them in every. Single. Room.
    We currently have an open plan as our kitchen is really just an indentation in the living room! I actually like it because I am not cut off from guests when I cook--although we do have a screen that we made from old shutters to give me a sense of privacy too. Certainly in France I would never want a completely open kitchen as I have already had far too many women come in to tell me what I was doing wrong!
    I know deep in my bones that TF is going to be one truly special place, boosted with love and passed on in the family. What an amazing thing to be able to do!
    Gros Bisous, I owe you an email and I apologize for that!! We were both so touched by your last,

    1. Heather...I can't believe you have been given the boot...could this be a sign?? Love the idea of a screen of old shutters..and you cracked me up with tales of women coming in to tell you what you did wrong. Funny how they do that.. No email necessary...just thinking of you both. xx


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