Decorating for Real Life

A home straight from the pages of House Beautiful.  I had just moved into my first apartment and I could not wait to start decorating.  Never mind that the space was only 492 square feet with retro fixtures, century-old appliances, and…wait for it…mustard tile.  It was all mine and I had big plans for my tiny home.

Have you ever stopped to consider how you decorate your home?  Whether you realize it or not, how you decorate your home can foster hospitality.

Think about it.  As women, the home is our primary place of ministry (Titus 2:5, I Tim 5:14).  Learning how to be keepers of our homes involves more than managing the order and cleanliness, although these are very important skills to learn.  It also involves learning how to beautify a home.  However, beautifying your home is much more than just decorating.  It’s learning to create spaces that exude warmth and invite people to take off their shoes and stay awhile.

Just think for a moment how your own home is a place of ministry for your family, friends, and guests.  Playing board games around the table during Family Night.  Counseling a newlywed couple through their first disagreement.  Sharing laughter with your girlfriends over tea and scones.  Throwing a baby shower for an unsaved neighbor.  Inviting the college-aged girls over for a chick flick and popcorn. Yes, how we use our homes for outreach and to care for others can start with decorating for real life.  So what does Scripture say about this subject?  Let’s look at one woman who was praised by her family and the Lord for “looking well to the ways of her household” (Proverbs 31:27).

I think if the Proverbs 31 woman lived in the twenty-first century, she would be dubbed Pinterest Queen Bee! Can you just imagine her DIY (Do It Yourself) pin board?  Joking aside, we can learn from her.  Why?  Because her attentiveness to her home is God’s standard for our conduct.  Let’s look at Proverbs 31:10-31 more closely.

*   “the heart of her husband trusts in her” (verse 11): I dare say it is no coincidence that above all the things covered in this passage, this is the first thing that we learn about her.  What a compliment!  Her husband trusts in her to manage the home well.  No doubt this included how she spent their money and used her time and creativity to make their house a home.

*   “she works with willing hands” (verse 13): The Proverbs 31 woman works with willing hands because she has a willing heart.  She has embraced her role as attentive homemaker and valuable helper.  A word to my fellow single gals: God has so beautifully gifted our feminine hearts, minds, and hands to create a home.  Regardless of our martial statuses, we all need to learn how to make our homes a priority in our lives.

*   “she considers a field and buys it” (verse 16): Picture the following scenario with me.  There’s a sale at the local flea market.  The Proverbs 31 woman spots the most gorgeous midnight blue throw.  It is to die for. 100% camel hair.  50% off.  She sips her chai goat’s milk and considers the purchase.  It’s on sale…But I already have two.  But it’s reversible….But you don’t need it.  But it’s so soft!…But it’s not in the budget.  Sigh. And with the last sip of her chai she turns and walks away. Proverbs 4:1 says, “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”  It is wise to consider your budget, your needs, and your priorities.

*   “she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy” (verse 20): The Proverbs 31 woman lives her life with open hands.  She doesn’t keep her possessions or blessings to herself.  Rather, she opens her heart and home to others to provide refuge, refreshment, and renewal.

*   “she makes bed coverings for herself” (verse 22): Oh, but Melissa, you don’t understand.  I don’t sew.  And Pinterest – not a fan!  In fact, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I realize that not every woman considers herself ‘crafty.’ However, learning the art of DIY projects—however small—is a creative way to stay within your budget and have fun in the process. (more on DIY projects later).

*   She understands that “charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (verse 30): The Proverbs 31 woman understands that ultimately earthly possessions will fade away.  She is a woman who is not dependant upon her possessions to gain status or favor from her friends; rather, she finds her satisfaction in the Lord alone.  May we remember that how we decorate can foster hospitality; however, a beautiful house without a hospitable heart and hands is just a beautiful house.

So, practically speaking, how do you decorate a home that fosters hospitality?

It’s all about relationships: color, textures, and patterns.  Does your home need a splash of color?  Is your kitchen table a dumping ground for everything from junk mail to homework?  Do you think you have to sacrifice comfort for sophistication?  Do thoughts of color palettes, fabric patterns, and floor plans cause your hair to frizz?  Here are a few tips and tricks that will help you in your journey to creatively adorn a hospitable home.

Decorating Tips and Tricks

1. Reflect your Style: Everyone has a decorating style that’s all their own.  Have fun decorating your house!  While magazines and decorating website have great ideas to imitate, ultimately you will want to decorate with the things you love.  Below I have defined four major decorating styles. You might find out that you are a mixture of two.  For instance, my decorating style is Classic/Modern.  Knowing your style will help you when you are ready to start decorating.

  • Casual: Think traditional. Early-American furniture design. Country cottage. Shabby chic. Weathered look. Warm wood tones. Natural and muted color palette. Solid patterns.
  • Classic: Think a blend of traditional and sophisticated. Old-world element. Feminine detail. Dark woods. Neutral and soft color palette. Glass accents. Fine fabrics.
  • Vintage: Think layered look of flea-market finds. Handmade items, and antique treasures. Timeworn. Dusty and gem-toned color palette. Diverse fabric patterns. Decorative accents and artwork galore.
  • Modern: Think clean and contemporary. Colorblocking. Light and dark woods. Simple furniture. Bold accents. Geometric and abstract patterns.

2. Begin with a fresh start. Decorate one room at a time.  Start by defining the needs of your room first.  Clear out any clutter that does not fit these needs (Breathe, my fellow hoarders!).

3. Invest in substantial pieces. Spend money on the items that you will have for a lifetime, such as couches, statement chairs, and dining room tables.

4. Anchor in Neutrals, Accent in Patterns. Most likely, your style will evolve over time.  Therefore, it is better to buy big furniture pieces in neutral tones and accent smaller, decorative pieces (pillows, lamps, rugs) in patterns and colors.

5.  Color is your friend! One of the hardest things to do when decorating is to choose a color scheme.  However, bringing color to a room is an instant brightener and mood lifter. Rather than picking one single shade, bring in shades of color.  If you are longing for color in your home but overwhelmed by the rainbow of options, consider visiting www.design-seeds.com You can search their color palette by color value or theme and find hundreds of {really cute!} 5-tone color schemes.

6. Create conversation areas. Whoever said furniture has to stay on the walls?  Pull furniture away from the walls to create conversation areas for you and your guests to enjoy.

7. Make your own art.  Sites like Pinterest are a great way to inspire your own artwork (or involve your children or girlfriends).  If you need a little inspiration, I invite you to follow my DIY board at pinterest.com/pinklovelies.  The possibilities are endless and your wallet will thank you.

8. Group collections. Grouping gives collections cohesiveness and reduces the cluttered look.  Also, they make great conversation starters for guests.  Whether a gallery of family photos or your grandfather’s collection of cuckoo clocks, displaying things you are passionate about brings life and love into any home.

I encourage you to prayerfully consider how to use your home for outreach and care to others.  The way we decorate our homes can spark hospitality.  May we as Christian women be modern day Proverbs 31 women who create homes with willing hearts and hands.  May our homes provide hope and share the love of Christ for all who walk through our doors!  So go on, get your décor on!

2 thoughts on “Decorating for Real Life”

  1. Laura Martin says:

    Dear Melissa,
    I am an Interior Decorator and I love all things home décor, including pinterest!!! 🙂 I have always dreamed of leading a home decoration course, but haven””””t gotten around to it yet, for women how want to add that special touch. And when I read your blog just now I thought of how right you are in our homes being a tool in ministry. Thanks for sharing! I appreciated your insight, and I am on fire to get a course set up ASAP 🙂

  2. I loved this article. The only thing I had trouble swallowing was “Make your own…..”. Although I am the DIY type, I also feel we should support one another. Perhaps one person is an artist and another is a sewer. Both are trying to sell their goods to help earn the household income (because let’s face it-our society today depends a lot on dual income). Should the artist buy the sewers bedding and the sewer decorate with the artists’ works? Just saying, we can’t always do it all and nor should we. We should support each other, spiritually and financially.