Women are like engineers; if there’s one thing they love, it’s changing things!
Actually, I like to think of myself as a “domestic engineer,” don’t you? I mean, doing this job of running a home well takes more than a little bit of thought and expertise.
And decorating is no exception.
Now, I know that many of us don’t have extra money laying around for decor, and most of what we do own is a hodge-podge collection gathered from many different sources (my own dear grandmother used to tell her guests that she decorated in “late Salvation Army”), so we often feel discouraged and sigh as we dust the furnishings we have. This seems especially true if we live in a cramped house filled with children!
It doesn’t have to be this way–decorating doesn’t have to be expensive, it can be simple and fun to fashion a family home into a wonderful place to look at and live in, even if we have to spruce up and cover up a few rips and blemishes (and with raising a family of 15 children, there have been more than a few bumps and tears!).
In fact, some of the most uncomfortable and unlivable homes I’ve visited have been in upper-class neighborhoods. I’ve been in more than a few mansions dressed up by professionals; one home was located on the boundaries of a golf course, with a stuccoed exterior that included alcoves for statuary along the outside entrance. On the inside there were evidences of someone who read, knitted etc., but when I went over to open one of the books that was lying on a table, the hostess became visibly nervous. It seems the books were carefully arranged to make things look “homey,” but were never meant to be read!
In another home the couches were tightly upholstered in an almost white silk fabric, making them impossibly uncomfortable!
But there was also another home I visited in the same neighborhood that was homey and inviting. It was obvious the owners had lived a long and interesting life together. There were rugs on the floors from different countries, and the walls were decorated with items they had gathered on their journey together. More than mere props, however, each item had a story behind it, and one could tell the books on the shelves were meant to be handled and enjoyed. Although none of it had been planned, everything seemed to fit well together, as though great thought and care had been given to the placement of each item, and so there was a cohesion to all of the different elements.
The first homes I mentioned made me feel self-conscious and small, the next home gave me a feeling of interest and belonging. Our dwellings should be more than a showcase for vanity; they should be a museum of fondness of each other and the memories we have been creating.
As the scripture says:
Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:
And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Proverbs 24 : 3-4
So, even though much of what we own may come from thrift stores and garage sales, there are ways to bring all of these elements together in such a way that will make them pleasing, restful, and interesting, not just to guests, but to the loved ones that will live among them.
Believe it or not, there are actual principles by which a hodge-podge collection can be arranged to its fullest effect, and there are resources that can teach all of us these principles. One of my favorites is Nesting Place, a blog that I have followed for a number of years that is very down-to-earth but actually helps teach the rest of us what the “professionals” know! (The author has also written a book that is available for sale, and you could probably find it at your local library.)
Another resource that I checked out from the library recently is the book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home. This book doesn’t look “polished,” but the information it contains is amazing! All of the basic principles of decorating are outlined here, and, although I don’t agree with everything written, it does give a very good foundation in the basic principles and either has you patting yourself on the back for having done it “right” all along, or rethinking some of what you have been doing so that you can make some positive changes.
I know that, for many of us, just getting the dishes done in the morning is a great feat, but what if we could have a higher goal? What if we could go beyond “tidy” and reach out into the realm of beauty? Adding an element of “pretty” into what we do each day keeps us from feeling that our job is more grind than pleasure.
If we do this as an expression of love, it becomes a spiritual activity, not just a work of vanity.