I got the writing gene. I got the talking gene. I got the teaching gene. I got the love people gene. I did NOT get the decorating gene, nor the gardening gene, nor the artistic eye gene. I really have very few skills that a girl raised in the shadow of Southern Living magazine should have. I am not the girly girl who knows how to throw a luncheon for other Southern girls; I’m more a meet-me-at-Panera kind of lunch with friends girl. Despite what I lack, I do desire a warm welcoming home when someone stops by, one with decorations and an atmosphere that will make them feel relaxed and at home even amid the dust bunnies and clutter.
So with that disclaimer here are my tried and true decorating tips for dummies.
- Let your walls and shelves be adorned with scripture. As 20-something, fresh out of college newlyweds we moved to a new town and joined a new church. I learned this tip at our first Sunday school social. The other young woman’s house was their first purchased home. God had allowed them to acquire it through a miraculous string of events. To honor the Father for His good gift to them she had determined to put a scripture verse on every wall of her home. And she did. It was such an encouraging home to go to, I can only imagine living there every day! Every direction you turned you were face to face with God’s Word.
- Purchase fresh flowers for your table. I learned this tip years ago at a women’s conference from Edith Schaeffer (wife of Francis Schaeffer – the noted pastor, theologian, and philosopher who founded L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland). As a young family with babies coming I felt I didn’t have the extra money to do this. But I made a way in the budget as often as I could. I learned that the older flowers at the grocery store got discounted and would still last a week if you knew which bundle to pick. I didn’t at that time, but by simple observation I’ve figured out which kinds of flowers last. I also take a small sprig of the bunch I buy and place them in a short, narrow vase in my guest bathroom.
- Use a few frames to rotate recent photos to be put on display. When my husband took a photography class just for fun at the local university, the instructor had them buy three 8×10 frames to hang on the walls around the house. He told them that the only way their eye for a photo would improve was through practice taking the pictures. They were to look over all their photos once a month, pick out their 3 favorites, have them printed, and display them in the frame. Each month they would swap those out for 3 new favorites. The frames should be simple so as not to distract from the photo, so any Dollar Store frame will work.
- Frame kids artwork for decorations in their rooms. Similar to the last idea, use brightly colored empty frames to display what the kids have drawn and rotate these pictures frequently as well. An 11×14 would probably work better for kids since you may have some of their pictures done on larger construction paper. If you get the large frame with a mat included it can work for 8×10 or 11×14 size works of art.
- Learn to sew a straight line. It is so easy to make simple curtains or pillows with fabric that matches your style, mood, or season, if you can just sew straight lines. You can easily make rectangular panels for curtains and squares for throw pillows. No pattern needed unless you want to go that extra mile. Check out yard sales for a used sewing machine.
Our homes do not have to be perfect. Our decorations do not have to be expensive. We do not have to have special skills to add beauty and warmth to the homes we are making. First Peter 3:3-5 (NIV) talks about how we present ourselves in dress and hairstyle, but I believe the principles apply to our houses as well. It says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.” Likewise, our homes don’t need to be full of expensive adornments.
Acts 4:13 describes Peter and John as “unschooled, ordinary men” and tells us that the people they spoke with “were astonished and .. took note that these men had been with Jesus.” I long for that to be said of me, not only as I teach God’s Word, but even as people come into my home. Let us not worry over the state of our homes, let’s make them cheery and warm and spend more time in God’s Word and prayer so that when others visit us they will say, “She is an ordinary woman just like me, but I can tell that she has been with Jesus.”