Christianity is a sacramental faith; we believe that ordinary “things” can be graced with great meaning and usefulness. Bread and wine become Christ’s body and blood. A lit candle on a table turns a reading corner into a location of prayer. A meal prepared and shared creates lovely fellowship. And a child’s bedroom is made sacred by all the nights Mom or Dad cuddle close to read bedtime stories and talk about the day.
I live a bit more easily in my spaces now that I’ve become more intentional about their purposes. A part of becoming intentional is paying close attention. What areas of my home are better suited to alone time? Which spaces can absorb the energy and mess of creative projects? Where do I feel most able to relax and do nothing? Where can I entertain guests most naturally and comfortably?
What factors make an impact on space?
• Furniture: does it suit the function? We finally replaced a fancy sofa with a big puffy one (from a thrift shop!) that invites you to put up your feet.
• Color: does it express the feel of your home? Is your family best represented by bright colors or earth tones? Our finished basement felt more like a family room after we painted over the standard white with the warm deep colors we really liked.
• Lighting: are you getting enough of the right kind? Do you need natural light year-round? Are those heavy drapes necessary, or does the room thirst for daylight? Would your reading be more enjoyable in a softer light?
• Arrangement: does it help or hurt? Get rid of stuff you keep having to move out of the way. Put things close to where you use them. My mood stays lighter when all the paper business (bills, replies-to-make) stays in the office rather than getting scattered throughout the house. When I’m reading, I don’t want to be reminded of the credit card balance.
• Scent: is it inviting or off-putting? Now that so many people have allergies, I’m more careful about using fragrances and I stay away from heavy sprays. Still, we have four hairy pets, and I don’t want people to smell dogs and cats the minute they enter our home.
• Objects: are they necessary? I believe more and more that we should choose carefully what we set around the house. I’m no interior decorator, but I’m learning to leave more empty space in a room. And, yes, after years of enjoying a vase or picture that was a gift from someone years ago, I will let it go to the thrift shop. Don’t allow sentimentality to clutter your life.
• Sound and/or quiet: have you made good choices? Does the TV or radio (or streaming audio/video from the computer) remain on when no one is paying attention? Do you dare proclaim certain hours of day and night “quiet” time, when no one runs the vacuum or dishwasher or otherwise makes a clatter? Have you figured out which sounds set a positive tone in your home? I can’t tell you how much happier our porch feels now that we have some wonderfully deep wind chimes.
I encourage you to pay attention to your spaces this week or for the next several weeks. Many changes don’t require a big budget but simply some reorganization, some sorting and pitching and choosing. Enjoy!