|We make our homes and our homes make us. Winston Churchill (paraphrased)|
It was a good day when I first realized it was not only okay to love decorating the canvas which is my home but that it was also a reflection of the Beauty God gives us. My permission to beautify came from various authors but one excerpt from an Edith Schaeffer book especially struck me... and has been quoted by many other writers of blogs, books, and articles.
She told the story of two young men arriving at L'Abri who were surprised by the beauty around them. They had decided they were not interested in Christianity because the missionaries who had come to their country did nothing to put beauty into their homes... which reflected on how they viewed Christianity.
That story, first read somewhere in my twenties, has come to mind often when I think of what my home says about the people who live there. Oh, not if one is rich or not... for a home can be made beautiful by shopping thrift stores and garage sales.
No, more about what is valued by the inhabitants. As one walks through my front door, they would immediately recognize someone who loves books lives there... and cats... and pretty tea things... ... and her family... and stuff that is
As you know if you have read my Sunday Tea posts for any length of time, I believe our homes should be such that when we enter the front door... we feel like we are hugged by an old friend... whether we live in a house, an apartment, or a castle.
On a recent rainy morning, I sat in My Room in the comfy Goodwill chair... feet propped up on the mini piano stool... Maine Coon sleeping on the hardwood floor next to the chair... and just listened to the sound of rain mixed with bird songs from the forest.
Gone were the tensions of the week left by intoxicated neighbors, hours of waiting in various official places, vertigo, and stretching the budget even further. I realized how fortunate I am to have an entire room with things I love surrounding me, one in which I do not have to please menfolk with the decorations. Perhaps I could get used to this empty nest. :)
While our homes greatly reflected my taste (as the interior designer was moi'), I always tried to keep the rest of the family in mind so our home would be their warm and cozy place, too. For instance, my husband does not like overly girlie decorations and he greatly dislikes the color pink. But he has grown to like (and I emphasize the word grown) the feminine touches of Dutch lace and decorative china.
Which reminds me... many years ago I read an article about making your home reflect what makes you happy and the author suggested thinking of your favorite restaurant where you feel relaxed and surrounded by beauty. I've mentioned before that I instantly thought of a restaurant we used to enjoy when we lived in Holland, Michigan.
As I pondered what it was about the room that always attracted me, I first thought of their Dutch lace curtains for they are not frilly but are feminine. I loved their painted furniture, the sayings stenciled on the beams (in Dutch), and the beauty of the wood throughout the room.
The one area I copied was purchasing Dutch lace style curtains (for real Dutch lace is very expensive). The original curtains were left in the house as part of a seller's agreement but a new pair were purchased and used through the years. They now are in the dining area as shown above and after all of these years, I still love them... and I have lots of wood furniture.
Which also reflects my husband's taste, having a graduate degree in Wood Science, our friends and family threw sawdust at our wedding instead of rice! But I digress...
I've also long enjoyed seeing how other people decorate their homes. I had never decorated with large artwork until I visited a house in Iowa that had small rooms but large art hanging on the walls. It was beautiful and seemed to provide extra warmth and color to each room.
I learned from other women's homes that it is always good to have a scented candle in the guest bathroom when company arrives (if it is safe), that soft music in the background promotes conversation, and that inexpensive hor dourves served on pretty plates make a guest feel appreciated.
I learned during a visit to another home that I loved how silver acts as jewelry in a room and that one can find silver pieces at thrift stores even if one is not "to the manor born"... and china... and crystal... and many other pretties.
What have I learned most recently? That even if one lives alone or with one other person, it is important to feel warm and cozy when one enters their own home. It seriously took me time to realize it was fine to just enjoy time spent beautifying our surroundings even if I no longer had people over very often.
That was difficult for me as I had long associated a warm and cozy home with hospitality. As if company was more important than my husband and I living here 24/7.
You will laugh when you hear what helped change my attitude... it was while watching a nature show in which divers filmed the spectacular gorgeous fish that lived so deep in the sea that only deep sea divers ever saw them.
God made them beautiful just for His enjoyment!
Now, I realize this is more an epistle than a blog post this week but it is a subject near to my heart... that women in general and Christian women in particular understand we are designed by God to not only love beauty... but that we need it... and so do the people around us.
It is also important to know in this materialistic world that beauty can be possible on a budget. To be honest, the most warm and cozy homes I have been in have all been decorated on a budget! Perhaps because it takes more time and thought as we seek out frugal treasures?
As the hurricane winds of adversity surround us... as we hear of wars and rumors of wars... as we read about (and some affected by) record breaking heat, cold, storms, and wildfires; let us ponder ways to make our homes a sanctuary for ourselves, our family, our Maine Coon kitties, and those who walk through the front door whether family or friend or stranger.