Every year when the Christmas decorations are put back on their shelves in the garage... to slumber until the next "day after Thanksgiving"... I take the time to look at the house through fresh eyes.
For between the sparkle of Christmas and the day I begin to put the house back in order, I can view the "bare bones" better and this is when I often do some tweaking of the rooms. It is enjoyable to look at familiar objects in new ways as items that have been located in one room now find a new home in another part of the house.
This has been even more important this year as the world outside of these walls is almost unrecognizable. I feel the need more than ever of that which is warm and cozy and... familiar. Like the old recipes, my favorite mugs that I use seasonally, favorite artwork on walls, the shelves filled with books, and the life the plants bring to rooms in January.
I am a student of lovely interiors, especially looking through magazines or on Instagram at photos of rooms that appeal to me. I learned from various interior designers when I was young to view photos of rooms and look for the different aspects that I find beautiful. What is it about each room that makes me feel warm and cozy?
I'm ridiculously snoopy (but in a good way) when going into a home for the first time, looking around the room and again wondering at why I feel it so charming. It was during a political meeting when we lived in Iowa that we met in a home where the artwork displayed created the atmosphere.
That was when I began to love beautiful art... always within my budget. As a note here... thrift stores can be the best place to find beautiful art on the cheap. The home owner had a beautiful Western print over her sofa in the Family Room that I recognized as an offer from Focus on the Family that year. It acted as a focal point that made the rest of the room so interesting.
I have finally (almost) finished all the tweaking this year. The Study was the last room to get back in order but it is also the most cluttered. It is always a mess during the Holidays, for that is where everything gets moved to make room for Christmas decorations and the tree. This room, normally a sanctuary filled with favorite things, instead tends to give me a headache each time I walk through the doors.
However, sometimes we need a little temporary clutter to bring beauty elsewhere and I do love the Christmas decorations, especially as I have kept only my very favorites. Having said that, it is good that the Study... and house... have been returned to a form of decluttered familiarity.
Of course, there is always such a thing as creative clutter and a house without it may make the cover of Traditional Home but without the freedom to do stuff and make messes (to be cleaned up when the project is finished), I have to wonder if it has a feeling of warmth and coziness for the people who live there.
Our homes must be a place where we truly can be ourselves. The one place on this planet where we can find our favorite food, and the warm throw the kitty also loves, and the stack of magazines we saved to enjoy when we finally have some time to enjoy them along with a hot beverage.
I think everyone loves the kind of home that seems to give us a big hug, a dwelling place that welcomes us back as we walk through the front door is exactly what we need in these difficult days. My home will never be on the cover of a glossy decorating magazine but as soon as I walk through the door, I feel as close to being Home as I can on this side of Eternity.
My house is mostly decorated in neutrals but the one place I can enjoy my love of yellow and red is in the kitchen. I don't think it is an accident that depression and world war era kitchens were decorated in bright primary colors such as this. The kitchen is where women throughout the decades were the artists of their homes, where they made Beauty and lovely creations that filled the bellies as well as the souls of friends and family.
In spite of dealing with continuous fatigue, I still love to cook and bake. I just can't do as much as I once did and I need a little help from my servants... such as the bread machine that mixes and kneads the dough. I still purchase cookbooks when they become available at a great price and really good cooking shows are my favorite way to unwind from a stressful day.
I tend to do everything "a little at a time"... perhaps one could call it home making by puttering? It seems to work because the house is fairly clean (it really needs a deep cleaning after the Holidays, though), laundry gets washed and dried, dinner is put on the table on time, the dishes are washed each evening, and most of the time the clutter has been cleared unless one of us is in the middle of a project.
This year, my priority is that more time must be set aside for those things that fill the soul with peace, such as Bible reading (even if on an app with larger font), reading or listening to books that teach me about good theology or tell stories that please the soul, and listening to favorite Bible teachers.
These are all things I can do that is within my ability to get done. I will continue to pray about local and world events, I will be aware of what is happening that I need to know about... but I am going to concentrate on those things that I can do to bring beauty and peace to my surroundings.
I think we can all handle what is going on outside our sphere of influence if we feel we have made something peaceful and beautiful within our own little world. We all have something that brings us joy. Let us do that this year, look for it, budget for it... whether sipping good coffee before the rest of the family gets up or purchasing a beautiful bouquet of flowers even if we live alone and no one else sees them.
Let us fight against the darkness by looking toward His Beauty and Light... and letting it reflect through us.
Image: Time For Reading by Judy Gibson