If the voice of your home were an audible sound, what would it say today? That may sound like a silly question because, unless your home groans with age or creeks from the fierce winds that blow against it, it probably doesn't speak aloud. But don't think for a minute that your house doesn't have something to say. In fact, it speaks loud and clear to all who enter it or even those who pass by.
"Naturally, our homes don't speak with words per se," writes George Andersen in his book Silent Witness, "but they subtly reveal so much:... interests and priorities...the place God has in our lives...our concerns for others...the value that we put on our families...how we spend our time. Thus, our homes become 'silent witnesses' to the multifaceted work of God in our lives."
If my home speaks silently, with subtlety, of my God, I think I should take the time to make sure the "voice" with which it speaks is a lovely, beautiful, and appealing one. Even though its voice may be silent, my house can speak with harsh tones or gentle ones, arrogance or enthusiasm. It can whisper gently or yell at those who enter its doors. And it can soothe, encourage, and bless, or it can criticize, unsettle, and disturb. How? Through its silent voice, its tone.
When God created the earth, He created a beautiful world that both excites and calms, energizes and puts to rest, invigorates and soothes. How? Through a multitude of elements of beauty. He used color, texture, fragrance, sound, and even tastes to create a lovely voice for all that He wanted to say to us through His created world. And we can do the same with our homes. Humble as they may be, we can use those very same elements to create beautiful atmospheres through which our stories and the story of our God can best be expressed.
It takes effort to make things beautiful. Quite honestly, it also often takes money, time, and know-how.
I'm not a great decorator. I'm the kind of interior designer who pours through magazines, examines other peoples' homes, and watches the home and garden channels just so I can select a color of paint for a room. I don't have the kind of budget that allows me to hire a professional decorator, redo an entire room at one time, or reproduce a designer's show room in my home. Like most of you, I have to do a little decorating at a time, copy the designer showcases with a dime and a little creativity, and even create a lot of my own decorations.
I sewed my own drapes ...
and used the leftovers to make accent pillows. (The pillows are used in different rooms than the drapes so my house doesn't look like a home interior line of Garanimals! I least I hope it doesn't...)
I took drapes from my last house and re-sewed them into cushions for my rocking chair.
And I recently made coasters for my potted violets from scraps left over from another project.
If I want to make things beautiful in my home, I have to be resourceful. I'd love to hear how you have used your limited resources to create loveliness in your environment.
I tell you all of this so that you'll know I don't claim to be an expert on creating beauty in our homes. I do the best I can, but no one has ever asked me to come help them decorate their home, so that tells me I still rank as an amateur. But I do make beauty a priority in my home.
Why? Because I believe my family and our guests deserve a little beauty. Quite honestly, my teenagers would probably say they could care less if things look nice, but I don't believe them. Even if the folks in your home never tell you your homemade curtains look nice or the flowers on the table are a lovely touch, I think they reap the benefits of those pretty touches. Beauty speaks to the soul even when we're not really listening.
Like I said, I'm no expert, but I thought I'd offer a few pointers that might jump start your creativity and get you thinking about how to kick up the beauty meter in your home a notch.
- Fresh flowers are always a nice touch. And they don't have to be expensive. I bought a bouquet of fresh daisies at the grocery store on Monday for my Tuesday breakfast party. They were just $5.99 and I managed to spread them out over one large arrangement (with silk greenery) and 5 place setting arrangements. Of course, I love cutting fresh roses from my own rose garden as well. You don't have to be a master flower arranger to make a pleasing bouquet of flowers. God has already made them beautiful; you just have to display the beauty.
- Set the table! I know it's just your family, and they don't seem to care if they eat off paper plates or even fast food wrappers, but like I said, beauty speaks even when we're not necessarily tuned into it. I don't always set my table this nicely, but I should. My family deserves it and I do too. And this little table arrangement took all of 5 minutes. Well worth it. I'm also a firm believer in cloth napkins. They're my meager effort at going green!
(Did you see my mini-daisy arrangements? Nice and easy!)
- Light a candle and make things smell nice. I think we feel like things are really beautiful and lovely when all our senses are engaged in something pleasant.
- Decorate with what you have. We have three avid readers at our home so we have lots of books. I think books make nice decorations when stacked in different places in your home. You can stack them with coordinating colors or themes.
- Turn on some nice music. While I love the "sounds of family" - conversation, rock music blaring from behind closed doors, children's laughter, the muted voices from the television, the hum of the washer and dryer, the swish of the dishwasher, dogs playing, etc. - beautiful music is what sings to my soul. Praise songs, soft jazz, love songs, and classical music are my favorites, but I try others things every now and then too. I actually have an Italian bistro CD that I pull out occasionally when we eat Italian food. My family groans when they first sit down to their spaghetti and hear it playing, but I know they love it...at least I tell myself they do!
- Use color. God's creation is full of color. Even here in the desert southwest, God has painted a beautiful picture of His peace, His love, and His gentleness with the soft, muted tones. If you can't afford anything else to add beauty to a room, you can probably afford a bucket or two of paint. And if you don't like it once it's on the walls, you can easily paint over it. I think paint - beautiful, bold color - is a miracle worker!
(When I first painted my kitchen green, it turned out a distinctively "hospital green"! That wouldn't work! So I had to paint the whole thing again. But it was relatively easy and cheap.)
And one more thing. The book I quoted earlier by Georg Andersen is a lovely home decorator book by a Christian and for Christians. I gave you a link to get it on Amazon if you're interested.
Have a beautiful day!