Grateful for the sun.
Grateful for the touch of warmth in the spring breeze.
Grateful for lace curtains to scatter the light and make my house feel like a home.
Grateful to be where God has placed me... for the warmth he placed and has grown in my heart.
This cool breeze, open window, sunny, lovely day is made especially bright as I ponder my freshly revived decor. Something even my husband loves and looks forward to as the seasons transform not just the outside of our house but the inside as well. I exchange the green garland and snow-covered trinkets of winter for the green of leafy vines, graceful ladies in long-ago gowns holding parasols or small children... splashes of spring. Even some of the pictures get a switch-out; soft colored gardens now hang where snowy hills were framed on the wall. My home feels like a livened page from the Secret Garden, inviting all who enter to come and rest and find Life.
In what feels like forever ago, when I was a young bride far from home, I felt the need to make my house a home. I didn't understand where it would lead, I just knew I wanted to feel cozy in my home and one night, I learned and appreciated the aspect of making others feel cozy as well.
A young man, coworker of my husband, stopped by to exchange vehicles with us for the weekend. His sports sedan wouldn't work for a moving project he had and our pick-up truck was the perfect fit! He, like us, was far from home. Military employed but, unlike us, he was un-wed and living in the base dorms fighting through a college type mentality and unwittingly longing for the comforts of home.
He entered our modest studio nestled in the corner of an old turn-of-the-century run-down mansion-turned-furnished-apartment building. He slid onto the cushions of the blue velvet couch next to the tall bay window, our hide-a bed neatly made in the opposite corner. Was it the warmth of the deep wood, high chair rail, and led-lined glass on the century old built-in buffet (I'm certain our apartment was once the house's large dining room!). Or was it the neatly positioned hand paintings my great-grandmother lovingly brushed and chose for our wedding gift and sat high on-top of the rails filling the pail egg shell void to the 12 foot ceilings? Nothing in the room was spectacular, as a matter of fact, the expanse of our carpet was a hodge-podge of 2 foot by 1 foot shag samples that seemed to be a throw back from a decade before! My home trimmings were modest in light of my young life and only 6 months of marriage. But everything was neatly in order and lovingly placed. This young man seemed to allow the cushions of that old couch just swallow him up as his eyes lit, nearly watering, and a smile slid over his sweet face. He nearly breathed, "this feels like home." I was so touched in that moment. I had no idea the impact my time and attention in decor could have.
More than 20 years has passed since that night, but the moment is like a snap-shot in my memory which always warms my heart and reminds me of the treasure of making a house a home. I have grown older, and closer to Christ in that time and have come to understand how home means so much more than something remembered of long ago and far away. It is an eternal home we can draw others to with the time and care we take to our surroundings. I don't mean slaving away with Spic and Span or running to Target and bringing home all the latest in decor.... No, I mean, creating a home with what you have. Making a cozy place where you feel comfortable and relaxed and where others walk in and feel the presence of God and invited to Dwell.
A home is not always perfectly clean, but it does have its own style of order. You may have small children and feel like you've forgotten what a toyless floor looks like: don't fret! You may homeschool and have books and maps and books and pencils and books lying everywhere: no worries! You may have health issues and not able to create much order anymore: just relax. My rule of thumb is this: Can someone come into my house, walk without getting stuck to the floor, sit without getting crumbs on their butt, visit my kitchen without pondering the risk of salmonella and use the bathroom without fear of strange diseases. I also shoot to create an environment that smells mostly nice! And behind the books and toys is a base-line of homey decor and a semblance of order.
Over the years I have collected pictures which (mostly) coordinate, reflect my personality, and speak of home in their own way. I hang scripture where possible and, this time of year, greenery with vines and the hint of flowers. St. Patrick's Day is coming so my simple decorations; two angels with shamrock gowns, adorn the focal point of my home surrounded by greenery and accented with a light house which casts my mind to Irish shores! In a week or two these will be exchanged for the trinkets of Easter and Resurrection Sunday to come.
My furniture doesn't match, the tables and shelves in my living room are mostly mis-matched as well. My dining room table use to be our craft table and shows the wear of many years under paint and exacto knives. It never had matching chairs under my ownership of roughly 20 years, the ones we use now were all gifted to us from a card-table collection!! But no one ever notices. Each time a new guest enters in I see the melting in their eyes, the comfort in their posture as they sit and rest and the whispers as they hug farewells, "I always love coming to your house because it feels like home". It isn't just the temporal home which invites them in but the eternal home they feel as love and laughter and ease are shared here in my perfectly imperfect cozy and delightful home!
But I can't take credit. Truth is, I couldn't do this on my own. It was my heavenly Father's Divine guidance so many years ago and the words spoken through a young man which God used to shape my heart and my life for a piece of His Kingdom here on earth.
I pray you might find and create that peace of heavenly home right where you are with whatever you have. Share your heart, share your hearth, share your hope!
I am currently planning a part 2 to this article to share more detail and a How-To on simple decor with what you have and how my style (both trial and error) has developed and transformed over the years. My heart and hope is that others who aren't sure how to make a house a home (and especially those on a budget and needing a low-stress version) can be encouraged to find their own niche in this important element of hospitality.