We bask in the beauty of the mountains, unwind in the peacefulness of canoeing on a pond together, and exclaim the glories of a sunset. Yet, when it comes to decorating our own homes or apartments, we may fail to see a need for beauty and tranquility in our everyday surroundings.
Making your home a place where relationships can be nurtured may seem like a daunting task. Tight finances, clutter that won't go away, and maybe the clashing of you and your spouse's decorating styles can inhibit you from ever picking up a paintbrush or putting up wallpaper. Figuring out how to make your home a reflection of your lives together as a family requires patience, planning, and a good dose of compromise.
Professional interior designer Terry Willits helps people see the God-given need for making their homes attractive and provides practical tips on how to accomplish it. The author of several home-décor themed books, Terry believes it is important to stimulate the five senses—touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste—to create an atmosphere that reflects a couple's or family's personal style. She strikes a positive balance between the stuff we decorate with and the end result—a warm, welcoming place to live in and grow our marriages, families, and friendships.
In this interview, Terry shares why she believes relationships can be enhanced, and God glorified, by creating peaceful, beautiful homes.
Why should it matter how we decorate our homes or apartments?
Beauty not only matters to our Creator, he is the author of it. Understanding that God is a God of beauty, order, and detail, I realized that while seeking beauty alone in our homes is hollow, there is nothing wrong with enhancing our own dwelling places in a balanced fashion. When I look at the beauty God created in nature, the way he wondrously crafted the details of the world, I am overwhelmed with his love for me. By making my home orderly and attractive, I communicate my love to those who live under my roof.
So, it's about people.
People are the priority when we are decorating our homes. And people are attracted to beauty. You want your home to be a place that draws people in. We're not talking about spotlessness and perfection here, but rather beauty, color, and light—anything that communicates love and care.
How does this relate to relationships?
We want to create an environment that will draw our spouses and loved ones home—to make home an attractive, orderly place. The end result is not creating a beautiful structure; rather, it is about making an atmosphere where lives are blessed. It's not about the stuff. It's about using the stuff to make a place where people and relationships grow.
I notice you say "orderly." How can clutter affect relationships?
There is no beauty without order. And clutter is a huge hot button for married couples and families. When a home is disorderly and unattractive, it repels people. When they are there, they feel chaos, confusion, and stress. We don't realize how much atmosphere impacts us.
How important is getting rid of clutter?
Before you ever think about beauty, get things in order. Start with one room at a time. Remember that you are not creating order for order's sake; rather, you are recognizing that disorder will drain your family relationships and take away your energy. It's not about perfection. It's about finding things!
How has decorating your own home affected your relationships?
Initially, our bedroom was not a priority, and we just had hand-me-downs. But my husband and I finally took time to make it attractive, make it a refuge. We got rid of the clutter and junk and made it feel like a special place. This didn't just help our sexual relationship, it helped give us a sense of peace.
So is the bedroom a priority when you begin decorating?
We often leave it for last, but ultimately it should be one of the first places we take care of. We want to create a place where we can rest and feel replenished.
What other rooms are important?
We have three major functions: eating, sleeping, and recreation. So you want to take care of the bedroom, kitchen, and living or family room first.
How do you reconcile different people's tastes in decorating—such as a husband and wife—especially if their tastes and ideas seem to be light years apart?
Marriage is about compromise. You need to recognize that when you are married and if you have a family, you aren't just decorating for one person. You need to listen to each other. For example, my husband had a special painting of his grandparents that I stuck in a closet for years because I didn't want to hang it. Finally, God convicted me that I was decorating for me, not for us. So I reframed it and gave it to him for Christmas.
So what about that awful birthday or wedding gift from the in-laws? How can we best handle gifts that don't fit our vision for our home?
Remember, it's your home. It should express who you are and what you enjoy. Your home should tell a story about you and your family. If I get something I don't like, I don't put it out. Now, if it's something that is sentimental to your spouse or a craft the kids made, that's different. Home should be a place you enjoy being in.
How can we avoid the lure of competition, constantly comparing our homes with others' or with an ideal depicted in magazines?
Celebrate what you have; focus on that. Don't keep up with the Joneses! Depression over what you don't have is a ploy of the Enemy and a sure way to lose our joy. If you struggle with discontent, confess your envy and ask God to help you have a grateful heart. There will always be those with more and those with less in life. And remember: big beautiful houses may seem picture perfect but may actually be the saddest of all. Other houses may be small and cozy, yet reflect love, warmth, and family.
Cindy Crosby is the author of By Willoway Brook: Exploring the Landscape of Prayer. She speaks and teaches on many topics, including writing, journaling, backpacking, fiction, nature, prairies, and faith. To learn more about Cindy or to connect with her, visit www.CindyCrosby.com.
This article was adapted from "Why Beauty Matters," originally published in 2000 in Marriage Partnership.