Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The importance of beauty in the home

I love reading comments and e-mails from you when I've shown something pretty in my home, especially when it cost just a few dollars.  In all the years I have been blogging, I've only had a couple of people give a negative comment about showing my house.  All the rest of you either just stop reading, roll your eyes and continue reading, or... as I truly believe... you "get it".

There is something within all of us, a God-given desire and need for Beauty.  What it means for each is as individual as the prints on our fingers.  I must always remember my fondness for English Country mixed with Early American dashed with Primitive here and there... is not always my husband's favorite.  But as much as he loves to wax poetic to guests about "all the stuff on the walls", he also likes the way the rooms look... mostly.

Knowing this, I work hard at keeping the house as clutter free as possible which makes it a peaceful place for him.  He may not open the cabinet and enjoy tweaking the plates and tea cups and crystal and silver and all the other precious china pieces but I have seen him stand before real wood paneling in an old home and examine how the woodworker brought life to walnut or mahogany.

Christopher shares my love of the way old books make a room all warm and cozy and Stephanie understands the lighting of candles before propping up a pillow and the placement of tea in a pretty cup on the side table... before opening the book to read.  For a home without books to us is, well... not a home but a house.

I have friends with intricate sound systems throughout their house as music centers their world and says "welcome home".  A very fond childhood memory is walking in the back door of the house lived in by my sister Bonnie's in-laws... which led directly into a tiny kitchen of their country home... and being met with the aromas of Nina's delicious food.  She has been gone a very long time (before Christopher was born) but the aroma of Christmas cookies and fudge take me back to that homey kitchen and I smile.

In the midst of trials in which I wondered if I would live through... when I had to remind myself to breath... it was far easier to find peace and joy when surrounded by well loved and familiar objects.  Sometimes it was as easy as walking into the kitchen, tying a favorite apron around my waist, and preparing a meal that reminded me of the aromas of my mother's kitchen (which usually had something to do with fried chicken).

Often I found myself baking favorite cookies and surprising the guys with love from the oven... made simply with flour and sugar and butter and just a couple other ingredients... mixed together and baked to form... Home.  Meals served on pretty dishes for just us... as if important guests were expected (who is more important than family?).

One of my very favorite memories is a day when Stephanie had a well baby appointment and after our visit to the pediatrician, I took her to the nearby department store.  We had lunch at their tea room (well, I did) and then I pushed the umbrella stroller up and down the aisles of the china department as I mentally created beautiful tablescapes with dishes far more expensive than I could ever own.  But now the tea rooms are gone and the china departments are usually very small for families are much more casual... or don't dine together at all.

However, places like thrift shops and Goodwill and some antique malls make it possible to purchase beautiful plates and cups and saucers for pennies on the dollar.  My brown transferware collection started with a couple of Goodwill plates (and my teacup collection was begun with a gift from a long ago friend). 

My first silver service  (the original on my buffet) was found tarnished and cheap sitting in a corner of an antique mall booth years ago... waiting for a good cleaning, the silver candlesticks were a dollar at a garage sale as the owner was tired of polishing them, vintage linens have been as inexpensive as a nickel apiece, and beloved pieces of furniture once belonged to parents.

I love the quote by Winston Churchill... "First we shape our dwellings and then our dwellings shape us".  We are given an amazing opportunity by God to create and whether we have a teeny tiny budget (as in picking flowering weeds and putting them in a Ball jar) or we can afford a complete remodel... all of us have the ability to shape our surroundings to make them a warm and cozy and loving place to be for our families... or just for us.

Just as we are not to worship God's creation but to give worship to the God Who Created... we do not put our stuff on a pedestal.  We understand that people are more important than things.  But we also can SEE and FEEL the affect a home environment has on those around us. 

So, my friend... it is quite natural that we cut out pictures of ideas from magazines, read garden books, and get ideas from decorating blogs.  I am always stealing getting inspired by Manuela... perhaps as we have similar taste and she is a genius? 

When there are cooking magazines and cookbooks all over my sofa and a list of recipes (as well as ingredients) are written in a notebook... I can almost taste the outcome.  Not only beautiful sights and sounds and tastes... but the smells of home. 

To this day, the aroma of bacon and coffee in the morning takes me back to childhood and chocolate chip cookies remind me of neighborhood boys checking the cookie jar.  I think of my mother-in-law when I open the spiral Trinity Lutheran Church cookbook to find her name listed under many recipes... looking for a favorite casserole recipe I hope is among them.

We were meant for all that is lovely and whether it is a result of vintage decorating finds, time spent in the kitchen, knitting or sewing while resting in the evening, finding our favorite author's out-of-print book after much research, or planting flowers with the veggies in our garden... we who were created by a Creator... need Beauty.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  :)


Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life said...

Brenda, you said it beautifully! It pains a lovely mosaic of your home and life.... a lovely role model for so many!

Annie Joy said...

I couldn't agree with you more! The blogs that I follow (like yours)and the magazines and books that I read all featuring beautiful photographs all serve as inspiration and motivation as I work through my day -- and frequently take a few minutes to feed my creativity and love for beauty. Thanks! Annie

Cheryl said...

Brenda, I soooooooo agree with what you are expressing here! In fact, I am one of those crazy "31 days" bloggers, and my series is called "31 Days to Make a House a Home." I normally blog two or three times a week, so this is a stretch for me...but I felt so pulled to this topic!
Yes, yes, yes...warmth and beauty in the home is a loving, creative expression...an extension of His love, I believe.

Cheri said...

When we get together with any of our three sons, whether our home or theirs (we are separated by 1,000 miles) they request special dishes which remind them of home...beef stroganoff, chicken fajitas, homemade pizza. And of course homemade fudge, chocolate chip cookies or cinnamon rolls.

I'm very grateful that these foods bring back memories of 'home'.

Comfort foods do more than fill the stomach.

matty said...

We do need beauty, don't we!? I think it is easy to forget this with all the busyness of life! Every moment of our life should be a celebration, shouldn't it?

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Dear Brenda, You are so right. A home is a sort of haven and it should be warm and beautiful. I think beauty makes it easier to be good in some way. We are more relaxed and peaceful in beauty and more thoughtful and grateful and kind. And though probably you are preaching mostly to the choir, we need to be inspired to act! You do this very well.

Mrs.Rabe said...

Beautifully said, Brenda.

Yes, we need beauty and by making our homes full of beauty we can afford and that speak to us - we teach our children to do the same!

As Edith Schaeffer has expressed, we as Christians should have homes that are full of beauty and creativity because of our Creator!


ps - totally agree about the books making a house a home!

Cheryl said...

P.S. I forgot to add (in the wee hours of this morning when I posted my comment ;-)...I LOVE your brown transferware!!


It is fun to look for beauty in less expensive spots. My current favorite is Home Goods.


Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right and I also agree that books really make a home extra cozy.
Your suggestions are great because they are so much more realistic and 'doable'than those in magazines.
Actually I read about a family whose home was photographed for a magazine. A team of decorators took over and fancied it up before the photos were taken.Guess that's why they aren't too realistic.

Nanna said...

beautiful post!anybody can live in a house, but a home reflects who we are, what we stand for & who reigns in our life

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

What a lovely post and I feel like it was written for me :) I truly believe what you have written and yet, as you know, I'm constantly fighting with myself about the accumulation of things. Especially in the world of blogs where it's really seems like people live their lives by trying to pursue the lifestyle displayed in a Pottery Barn catalog.

I honestly read very few blogs anymore, even though I blog myself. Yours has always and will always be my favorite.