Christian Values in Home Decorating
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The joy of the Lord in a Christian woman will naturally cultivate in her a love of beauty. The Christian's view of beauty is based on Truth. Just as there is truth in words, truth in beliefs and truth in actions, there is truth in beauty. True beauty follows standards. These standards are based on God's Word. These are things such as purity, loveliness, courtesy, good judgment, appropriateness, being non-offensive, orderliness, consistency, clarity and sending the right message.
Christian women should be so inspired by God that they naturally want their homes to reflect His glory and His beauty. In fact, many of the modern-day home dec. courses and books try to emulate the Christian's way of decorating and homemaking. Without the standards of purity, loveliness, orderliness and good judgment, home decorating can just become a pristine display of objects with no life in them or a depressing houseful of meaningless clutter and nerve-jangling "themes."
My first instruction to you who wish to develop the ability to decorate beautifully is to observe other lovely homes and shops to get ideas. Often when I take someone to a warm, inviting home, they remark, "Oh, now I know what I want to do!" Encouragement from books, magazines, other people's homes, beautiful shops, classes and so forth will set you on the right path. One of the most inspiring things you can read is the description of the temple and the tabernacle in the Old Testament. God's houses were full of wood, velvet, brass, linen and beautiful contrasts. Rich colours and lights portrayed dignity.
Another way to decorate beautifully is to observe the effect that certain arrangements, colours and objects have upon you as you sit among them in your own home. Cast out anything that makes you irritable, uncomfortable or depressed. (I once got rid of a piece of furniture that followed the line and form of New Age philosophy. I am much happier using time-tested pieces that will be loved by the next generation.) Eliminate things that give off messages other than refinement and love of life. Sometimes even toys will have to be sorted and discarded because of unbecoming design. Keep only that which is lovely and is used for a godly purpose. Children's toys are for the purpose of imitating their fathers and mothers and creating a delightful time in their lives.
The secret to really making an appealing decorating scheme is to keep all things orderly and beautiful. The front porch and door set the stage. Clear off the clutter and put a decoration on the outside wall or door. Most people put something that indicates the values and theme of what goes on inside the home. The entryway, once inside the house, could have a guest book and a place to hang coats and stash purses. A chair beside the door also makes a nice place to wait while others are getting ready to go somewhere.
Colours and objects within the house should be calming and not discordant. The basic principle to follow is the imitation of God's creation. High-quality art that depicts the home, family, children, flowers, water, nature and lovely objects is always appropriate and stands the test of time. When you grow tired of a picture, rotate it to another room and add a newfound piece. The same rule applies to furniture and accessories.
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Here is one good test of how effective your home decorating is: enter your front door as if you were a visitor. What do you see first? Is there a place for everything, and everything in its place? Besides that, is there a feeling of harmony and beauty? Does it smell good? Does it sound good? Here are some basic rules to follow if you are serious about having a home that glorifies God and becomes a blessings to those you serve:
- Examine your entrance and pick up the clutter -- usually shoes and such -- and hide them in a nearby closet or on a shelf. Generally these items do not enhance the view.
- Hide all cords. Don't string them obviously across walls to a plug. Put them unobtrusively behind a piece of furniture. Look at decorating magazines. Do you ever see cords? Hiding cords is one secret of making a home appear peaceful (and making it safer for foot traffic!).
- Keep low lighting. That means turning off the overhead lights and using small lamps which you can put on side tables. Small lamps are a better deal that large ones because you can move them around so easily, and they do not take up enormous amounts of space.
- If you use one color, you can use many different shades of it throughout a room, and the number is endless. If you use several different, unrelated or contrasting colours, you may end up creating a hectic look. I've found it best to limit to three coordinating colours. You might want to check out decorating hints and helps on the web or the library for information about colour. The whole purpose of coordinating colour is to get a feeling in your house of smoothness and harmony.
- Clutter is definitely an enemy of a peaceful home. Everything should have its place. Coats and shoes do not belong on the backs of chairs, and bath towels do not belong on the furniture. Plates, cups, glasses and so forth should not be left on coffee tables. Toys should have a designated basket in the room where the child is playing. I have been in homes where the occupants have developed the habit of letting things stay where they dropped. In the living room could be found Band-Aids, nail polish, a hairbrush, plates of food, cans of pop, toys everywhere, sewing projects all askew, writing materials separated (envelopes far away from the paper and pens) and all manner of chaos. Just a little organization and some discipline will bring beauty and peace out of chaos. Even in one-room cottages, women have been able to live the rule that everything must have a place. You may not have a room or a shelf for everything, but each thing can still have a specific appointed place (shoeboxes in kitchen cabinets, Rubbermaid containers under beds, cubbyholes in the backs of closets, etc.). Ladies, it is good to be orderly, for it glorifies God and imitates Him.
Mrs. Chancey's Parlour
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In your attempts to be orderly, do not forget to put human touches everywhere to give your home a feeling of comfort. Too many magazines show off the perfection of the furnishings and the architecture but fail to show real life. I have been to many homes that were perfectly correct in their colour combinations, arrangements and architecture, yet there was not a writing nook, a sewing machine, craft table, artist's easel, piano, bookcase, lectern, music stand, tea table or other real-life tool in sight. Our homes must be a place where life is being experienced, where people learn to speak, craft, create a business, read, sing, minister and more.
I once had a visitor who walked in and said, "There is so much life around here! I walk up to the front door, and there is a box of watercolours with a brush and tablet that someone left. Once inside I hear someone playing the piano. When I get further into the kitchen, there are a couple of people practicing singing in harmony. And everywhere is handiwork--quilts and paintings and crafts. Someone is growing a garden outside, and the birds can be seen at the feeder through the dining room window."
In all this painting and busyness, don't forget that nothing of value can ever really be achieved without the help of our Creator. Spend adequate time in prayer and Bible meditation to help you achieve these worthy goals. If your life is fairly serious, as is mine, with important work in the church and at home, then decorating can be a wonderful, relaxing hobby and pleasure. It is very fulfilling. It's like having a blank canvas and creating a scene. Try this with your coffee table and even your kitchen cabinet tops.
I know that God approves of our efforts to make a home beautiful. Even His own Son says, "In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would not have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." If even our Lord is going to prepare a place for us, is it not important that we prepare a place for our loved ones that is a foretaste of the mansion beyond? Gos bless you in your sincere efforts to decorate in a godly way.