Some of you know that my wife is an influential home decor and DIY blogger (have a look at her website). She’s remarkably gifted and is a great encouragement to many people. But I have sometimes heard critics outside of her circles scoff at others who spend time decorating their homes and pouring resources into remodeling projects. Their sentiment can come across with a sneer, as if to say, “That’s so trivial. Why don’t people focus on more important things in life?” There was a time in my own life when I would have said something similar.
But, here’s my response:
By “beautiful” I mean a home that is decorated and designed with care, artistic sensitivity, and passion. In other words, homes that are artfully designed and decorated profoundly affect the ones who live in them. There’s a very important theological reason for that: home decor is actually a creative expression, a living and breathing work of art. And God, as the ultimate creator, is the one in whose image we create. While it’s true that art reflects the human artist, it also points to the divine artist that has instilled a desire for beauty and peace in each one of us.
I read an article this week by Thomas Terry and Ryan Lister entitled “Why Your Creativity Matters to Christ.” Here’s how they put it:
Creativity, like love, is not a selfish act. It has both a vertical and horizontal orientation, for God and for neighbor. Our creativity is at its best when it lifts our eyes to transcendence and forces the world to wrestle with its Creator. “The trumpet of imagination,” as G. K. Chesterton says, “is like the trumpet of the resurrection. It calls the dead out of their graves.” Your creativity is bigger than you. It exists for God and for others.
Home decor is an act of creativity, a trumpet of imagination, and it can draw the attention of both those who live in the spaces that are designed as well as the God who designed all spaces. God, after all, did the home decor for the greatest space imaginable: it’s called creation. The “house” of the universe is marked by the artistic sensitivities of a God who loves beauty, purpose, and serenity. Creative expression is no small thing; it is a divine thing.
But more than that, God knows that beauty affects us. All of us are profoundly affected by our physical environments. That’s one of the many reasons why people take vacations: they want to go to a different space in order to be affected by it. The beaches of St. Maarten, we think, facilitate peace much more effectively than our own living rooms.
But here’s what I’ve come to appreciate about my wife’s work: You don’t need to go somewhere else to have an environment affect you. You can change the environment around you. You can use your living room.
When you think about it, all of us can attest to this. I still have a sense of childlike awe well up within me when I start seeing greenery strewn on staircases and Christmas trees covered with shimmering ornaments. The smell of cinnamon, the dusty nativity scenes, the strings of lights on the banisters—these are ways in which we craft spaces at Christmas time. And those spaces affect us: our moods, our thoughts, our desires. A space can do great things.
That’s why there is such great gravity in a beautiful home. For those who live there, the impressions from a host of decorative details remain, like little weights that pull us downward towards the present and mark where we have stayed in the past.