From the kitchen to the bedroom—some ideas to enrich your decorating.
We all want our houses to be an oasis of peace and love. Most of the time, however, our houses look more like a jungle: disorganized piles of clothing, shoes littering the floor of the entryway, a barely functional kitchen, and a living room that has been abandoned to untameable chaos.
Our galloping rhythm of life leaves us little time for housekeeping, but if you manage to slow that rhythm down and place a few decorative details in each room, your house will look more like a peaceful home and not just a huge storage space where objects of daily use pile up. Breathing a little bit of soul into your surroundings is easier than you may think.
We hope this list of decorative touches can help you make your living space more comfortable and spiritual. You might even manage to make your home reflect the joy and comfort that we find in churches.
Doorstep and exterior
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Your front door should be a symbol, not just a passage indoors or outdoors. A door is a threshold. In a church, the threshold represents welcome refuge, and even transformation: when you leave a church, you are never the same person you were when you entered. Remind your guests that they are entering a special place. Little details, like a beautiful knocker or a chime, a welcoming doormat, or a little statue of an angel on the threshold of the door, can show the difference.
“Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2)
To one side of the door on the inside, why not install a little holy water font, and get into the habit of blessing yourself each time you enter or leave the house? Maybe your guests will be motivated to do the same. No matter the time of year, hanging bells on the doorknob always adds an air of festivity. Guests will feel that their arrival is a celebration! And as an added bonus, you’ll know when your kids come home. For a touch of spiritual protection, you can turn to a sacramental: hang a Saint Benedict medal near the door.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
The kitchen is already full of symbols that remind us of the sacraments, such as the kitchen table. Whether it’s in a cozy corner for breakfast, or in the middle of the kitchen, the table is where we break bread together. Take into account that everything in your kitchen aims at awakening your appetite and stimulating conversation around a meal.
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A spiritual quotation or fresh herbs growing close to the window could be decorative elements that would contribute to this atmosphere. A framed prayer, such as the invocation of a saint (like Martha, for example, known for her culinary skills), or a beautiful poem, can fill the kitchen with a feeling of well-being. Your favorite coffee machine or teapot can also be important symbols that call to mind relaxation, peace, and communion.
Cover your refrigerator door with family photos, drawings by your children, postcards, greeting cards—anything and everything that reminds you of the loved ones that surround you.
“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-7)
Whether you use the dining room to have lunch or dinner every day, or only on special occasions, its decor is important because it can say a lot about your family history. You can use, for example, a tablecloth or some candlesticks that you inherited from your grandmother. When it comes to these family heirlooms, it doesn’t matter much exactly what they are; they help tell the story of your family, at the same time as they create new memories.
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“In the beginning was the Word,” St. John tells us. The dining room is where our oral tradition is passed down. People express themselves through their stories, their laughing and their tears, and they enrich us all. Some religious pictures, with scenes like The Last Supper or The Wedding at Cana, can be beautiful illustrations to hang in this room where we share so much with each other.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Be daring! Don’t feel obliged to relegate all religious symbols to your bedrooms. Everyone who comes to your house ought to know what you believe. Don’t hesitate to place religious art judiciously throughout your living room. Right away, you will feel the positive impact that this can have on your soul.
Religious art isn’t only meant to be seen in church. Put an image of Mary above the sofa, or perhaps an oil painting of some biblical event near your favorite armchair, or even a statue of a saint on your piano or bookshelf.
“For you, LORD, give light to my lamp; my God brightens my darkness.” (Psalms 18:29)
Just like the Paschal candle during the Easter Vigil, the light of Christ gives life to your home. Whether it be a fire in the fireplace, a wood stove, or a candle on your table, the presence of a flame that burns with all its splendor is a powerful reminder of God’s presence.
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
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This is the best environment to remind you of the ties that bind you and your family together. This room is the ideal place for family photos or a framed genealogical tree on the wall, as well as some spiritual quotations. Add some cushions and blankets for a warm and cozy touch.
“It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, To eat bread earned by hard toil—all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.” (Psalms 127:2)
You can hang a blessed crucifix in the bedroom and have a rosary by your bedside. Next to your wedding pictures, why not add a work of religious art evoking marital love? My favorite is the meeting of Joachim and Anne at the golden gate, painted by Giotto, with that same name: The Meeting at the Golden Gate.
If you are single, maybe you could use the image of your name saint instead. In my case, it would be Anne or the Blessed Virgin, because of my middle name. If you don’t have a name saint, you could use the saint your parish is named after, or your favorite saint.
A small bit of advice for adding an additional welcoming touch: pick a brightly colored comforter. Every bedroom should have one!
“If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)
Water is an integral and salvific element in the sacrament of Baptism. Remember this gift when you lovingly decorate this place where the family bathes and freshens up every day. Consider using towels with an inspirational phrase on them. Add candles to create an ethereal atmosphere, as well as soap and potpourris with original, cheery, or relaxing scents. Everything should combine to create an atmosphere that pleasingly cleanses you of the your day’s stress.
St. Augustine described God’s beauty as “so ancient and so new.” Our humble homes can reflect that too, just as a majestic cathedral can illustrate the liturgical calendar through magnificent vestments and decorations. A child’s painting on the refrigerator or a quote from Shakespeare hanging on a wall can be as refreshing for the spirit as a stained glass window bathed in sunlight in a church. So, look carefully around your house, identify the things that express your faith, and have fun imagining what you would like to add, whether it be something sublime or magnificently simple. Remind everyone who enters your home that your household is solid as a rock.
“The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.” (Matthew 7:25)