I always loved going to my Nana and Pop-pop's house - as a little girl but even more so as I've gotten older.
Always cluttered and crowded and with the thermostat set high enough that I felt like I was back home in Niger, it definitely did not demonstrate the latest in decorating styles and fashions...
Their house literally oozed welcome and warmth and love ~
- from the daybed in the dining room covered in pillows to give it a couch-like feel to the puppy statues on the steps in the entry way...
- from the elasticized permanent tablecloth always covering the kitchen table that had to be scootched to get to the stairs to the downstairs to the walls covered with framed photos of kids, grandkids and great-grandkids...
- from the porch swing that creaked with every sway to the below-grade toilet in the basement bathroom (that also had a shower where even I had to stoop to step in) that I was terrified to flush because I could never do it the right way and always ended up with a mess...
Nana and Pop-pop's house might never have qualified for a how-to inspiration in Better Homes and Gardens, but they loved their home, clearly cared for their space, and warmly welcomed those visiting in their home. Cookies and fruit accessibly scattered throughout the kitchen, smells of yummy food wafting, candy in candy jars in every room, a porch swing with coffee first thing in the morning, and several TVs in different rooms for everyone's viewing pleasure.
|Stenciling deer and acorns in the master bedroom of Tim's parents' house was our very first attempt at decorating/remodeling - as expecting newlyweds!|
Nana's and Pop-pop's house was the first place I thought of as I read Myquillyn Smith's The NESTING Place ~ It doesn't have to perfect to be beautiful.
If you follow the Nester's blog, you'll already be familiar with Myquillyn's ideas for home decorating. As the book jacket says, "Myquillyn Smith has spent years helping readers accept and find beauty in the imprefections in their homes and in their lives.... Join [her] on her quest to love the incomplete and unfinished and mismatched areas of life and home." While I don't follow her blog every day, I have participated in her 31 days blog challenges and I do like to check in to her blog from time to time. Some of her ideas, I find totally over the top or impractical, especially for my family of ten, and especially especially as for the bulk of my married life with kids, I've lived on the backside of the Sahara Desert with not so much easily available when it comes to decorating schemes.
One example? This mural. I was SO. PROUD. of it when we did it (even though I look back at the photos now and cringe)! Our Wrightlings loved i!. They had three "pieces" of furniture in their bedroom: a bunk bed that was shaped to kinda look like the cartoon versions of Noah's ark, a large and quilted mat to cover a portion of the ugly-tile-covered and unforgiving-to-toddler heads concrete floor, and a woven basket filled with the few toys they were able to bring when we moved. The large painting on the wall, the stencils halfway up - it helped make their room look like the busy place a children-under-six's should be, a place they loved to be... loved to play... and which provided hours if imagination and fun as we made up stories for the animals painted on that wall.
Myquillyn, in The Nesting Place, points out that the key to decorating a house so that it feels more like a home to live in... and not a museum with exhibits to admire... is intentionality. And it was something Tim and I accidentally accomplished in both of the instances pictured above. We haven't always done that because we've forgotten points outlined in Myquillyn's book.
To create an intentional space, one that reflects your own individuality, sense of beauty and creativity, you need to, well... be intentional! Conside the following as you "build" spaces... and then decorate and furnish those spaces:
- places to connect ~ "...prioritize good conversation and be sure [to] have adequate, comfortable seating so people will stick around."
- safe places to make mistakes ~ "lower my standards for myself first, be forgiving of my own mistakes, and allow others to see me laughing at myself... display and use the imperfect in my home..."
- places of inspiration ~ "...collect inspiring mementos and show them off unashamed, regardless of the trends."
- places of authenticity ~ "...learn to embrace the imperfect, find the beauty in the undone, the haphazard and the unkempt, the everydayness, and the mess... find the beauty in what is... accept that the messes unique to my home are a sign of a full and beautiful season of life."
- places of comfort ~ "...stop apologizing and focus on others instead of on myself... [serving] people, not [expecting people to] serve and protect our fancy stuff."
- places of rest ~ "...practice resting in the midst of the undone, even if that means letting the dirty dishes sit so I can laugh with a friend who stopped by."
- places of joy ~ "...surround myself with people and places and memories... that bring me joy."
- places of contentment ~ "...practice gratitude... [saying] out loud things... that I'm thankful for instead of dwelling on what I think is missing."
~ from the chapter entitled
"Embracing the True Purpose of Your Home,"
p. 69 in The Nesting Place
Not only was the book a delightful read, with lots of great pictures, good ideas and amusing personal stories, Myquillyn challenges women (and other readers) to consider the true purposes of the spaces in which we dwell and asks her readers to consider if in creating those spaces, we are
- self-focused... or others focused
- people-oriented... or things oriented
- authentic... or concerned with a desired veneer
- content... or covetous
- thankful... or ungrateful for God's present provision
My grandparents may have had a cluttered, cramped and crazy-mismatched bunch of stuff at their house, but in creating a place that they loved, that was filled with memories, that encouraged visiting and conversation, that welcomed - the decorating faux-pas didn't even matter.
It was a place I couldn't wait to be.
I hope, someday, that I truly absorb these lessons and that my home becomes the same - a haven of welcome and love.
Now... the part about the giveaway...
I'd LOVE to send someone my copy of this book, particularly if you think its message might encourage and challenge you - in a good way.
If you'd like to be entered in drawing, leave a comment here or on Facebook... I'll have Mary Michelle pick a name out of a hat... and we'll send it along. We'll draw names one week from today!
first photo credit: