Home Decor Basics

Monday’s post covered tips about making a house a home. Today we will dive into the third tip — on color and decor — a little more. I asked a friend gifted in interior design to help us with some basic guidelines and simple tricks to making a room feel beautiful and pleasant.

Note: this is for those who are not already blessed with artistic or design skills. Please understand that we are all different and have varying gifts.

It is sometimes a good idea to start in one room, perhaps the family room if your floor plan is open to other rooms, such as the dining room or kitchen. This limits your project “mess” to one space as you continue living in the rest of the house. It also makes the task more achievable, rather than overwhelming. You are able to focus in on the arrangement of the furniture and the function of that particular room. It’s also the beginning of choosing your style, and the completed room gives you an anchor for the rest of the house as you move forward.

Furniture GroupingLink styles with color to coordinate for a cohesive look. Repeating one or more color combinations in the rooms creates the look of greater space. A range of furniture styles, sizes and shapes can have a coordinated look with repeated or corresponding colors. You create unity in your existing collection of furniture by grouping pieces by wood tones or by upholstery color.

Plan your accent pieces. Limiting your patterns to pillows, rugs, or curtains enables you to change the look with the season or as you are ready for a different feel. At the same time, don’t get the room too crowded. You can rotate pieces through the seasons to use everything you love without creating visual noise.

Continuity promotes a restful environment. Keeping a theme with wood color or trim color or metallic accents will give you a backdrop for your home that rests your eyes on the pattern rather than distracting with multiple looks.

Color swatchesExperiment with color. Your base colors for a house don’t have to be neutrals. You can use cranberry rather than tan on your wall, as long as you have a cohesive color palette throughout. Consider how colors make you feel when choosing your palette, as well as which colors make you look good. Your home is your daily background.

We hope these tips have helped stir your imagination. Stay tuned later this fall for a full series on home decorating if you would like to explore the field in more detail.

Making a House a Home

Some of us cannot fathom living anywhere other than where we always have. On the other end of the spectrum are those who move once a year or so and are experts at packing, moving and re-settling. For the rest in the middle, it can be a bit daunting facing a new house with empty rooms (well, empty except for boxes…everywhere). Or perhaps some are setting up a new household for the first time and have no idea where to start.

Personally, I hate the chaos of moving, but I LOVE the excitement and fresh start. A blank slate teems with possibilities. That love also carries over into occasionally refreshing my existing rooms, because the physical space has a great impact on home life and health.

For those in the middle or starting out, here are a few tips to help you with the practical side of making a house a home.

Set up one space as a haven. This is for just after a move. Everything is in a state of upheaval. You can only take that so long. The rest your soul, mind and body need to keep going can be helped by taking some time to create one comfortable space. When I was single, this was usually my bedroom; in a family situation, that is often the kitchen out of necessity and for maximum impact. Unpack what is needed there. Set it up approximately how you would like it — at least enough to look nice — and then remove all vestiges of a recent move. When you walk into the room, you should be able to briefly forget the mess everywhere else in the house and just live.

John DeereGet things on the walls to make it feel homey. As soon as you can after moving, put pictures or art on the walls. You will feel warm and comfortable when your beautiful items are visible. You will feel like you belong when your favorite family pictures surround you. It doesn’t take long, but you will notice the difference quickly. Don’t worry too much about location; pick a pleasant, reasonable spot and put it up. You can always rearrange when everything is settled and you fine-tune your rooms.

Color coordination pays off. Whether you are moving or just refreshing your home, colors are key. Not all of us have an artist’s eye, but there are other options. Hardware stores, magazines, IKEA stores and Pinterest all have plenty of ideas that you can straight-up copy if you like.

As a bare minimum, you can use neutrals as a base, and then get help with arranging furniture and accents in each room. This is a good option for budget restrictions and for those who like more frequent change. A neutral wall can be touched up for many years, saving on paint expense, and still look like a new room every so often with just a few changes. Asking for help could mean a professional, but this also could be an opportunity to team with a friend or build a relationship with an acquaintance or neighbor.

Comfortable seating and spaces are a must. When you move into a new house, rooms can tend to feel more like a storage unit than a home. Quickly making at least a few seats (that aren’t piles of boxes) available will start nudging the needle closer to “home” on the dial.

Past move-in time, this is still true. Your home is not a museum; you live in it. Remember to allow for comfortable seating in each of your room arrangements. This ranges from a side chair in the guest room, to a dining room table everyone loves to linger around, to a counter stool or kitchen table that makes it easy for the kitchen to be the heart of the home. The living room especially needs to be welcoming in its comfort. This are all good opportunities to encourage conversation and relationship in your home.

Not all of us are gifted interior designers, but little things like these make a big difference. We all can have that impact out of love for our families, friends, church and neighbors.

Everything in Its Place

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

This is key for organization. It’s not the cute boxes and nifty shelves. It’s that things are assigned to places. When they are needed, they can be found and used; when they are not needed, they return to base.

Unfortunately, jazzy systems can only go so far. Putting everything in place, no matter how wonderful that place is, requires discipline. Ugh!

Now, we’re not talking boot camp discipline here. Perfectionism is not required, even though it would keep those shelves absolutely perfectly organized. But that (fortunately) is not the ultimate goal. Keeping things orderly has several purposes, but none that should be overtaken. Reflecting God’s character is lovely, but obsessive organization shouldn’t become a god. Making the best use of our resources is ideal, but shouldn’t be the ultimate driver. Saving time is great, but we don’t need more time just for the sake of having free time.

Keeping things in place is a way to serve God, your family, and everyone around you. If you make a habit of using things and then returning them to a reasonable location, you will have fewer hindrances as you fulfill your purpose. The frustration you feel when your home is a disaster area can be minimized. The time wasted searching for necessary books and papers before school can be converted to a calm departure and good conversation on the way to school. You don’t have to tear the house apart for a bandaid when the skinned knee comes limping in from outside. Guests are welcomed to a home that is lived in but not hazardous. Bills can be paid on time rather than lost in scattered stashes of mail.

Basically, it’s not rocket science or out-of-reach creativity. You can do the simple, basic steps needed to bring order to your household and life. Not perfect order, but purposeful order.

Rejoice and Remember

Holidays are an occasion to pause, celebrate and be thankful. They may not work out that way any given year, but they are an opportunity for us. In our current American holiday calendar, the indicated reasons for celebration do vary. Labor Day, for instance, has drifted a bit from the initial cause, but we can still be thankful for the blessing of work and employment while many enjoy a break from such.

In my daily reading I noticed that God gave a list of holidays to Israel in Deuteronomy 16. He also clarifies on multiple occasions, including in Deuteronomy 5, the importance of the sabbath. Further, He designated a sabbath year and the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25). It was that important. And in all that, the purpose for each is clearly stated. I noticed two words repeated in the descriptions of these holidays: “rejoice” and “remember”.

Rejoice These are days to enjoy! However you celebrate, whether it be a large family gathering or a quiet day at home, you are free to take pleasure in the day. It is a gift. Unwrap and make the most of it!

Remember Most of us reading this have been given so much. Our countries and the earth itself are the recipients of so many blessings from God on a regular basis. Taking one day to especially remember certain categories (Labor Day — employment; Christmas — Christ’s birth, life and death, our salvation; Easter — the resurrection; Independence Day — our freedoms) and be grateful for what God has appointed is a blessing in itself.

May your Labor Day be joyful and thankful — and every holiday to come!