Monday, Feb 16
I love decorating our home for the seasons. Whenever a friend comments on my seasonal decorations I always explain that, having been an elementary school teacher for five years, I treat my home like a classroom bulletin board. Over the years, I’ve collected serving dishes, candle holders, wall art, and more table linens than I’d like to admit. I have my former students to thank for starting most of my holiday decoration collections. If I didn’t have a basement with ample storage and cabinets in my living room, it would be very stressful to beautify our home in this way. I have streamlined my system over the almost seven years we have lived here, making it enjoyable for me to change out decorations seasonally. The children really enjoy helping me now that they’re older. It brings me so much joy when our oldest daughter cuts out snowflakes for her bedroom window, or asks for scrapbooking paper to make hearts for the front door.
Typically, I just strip the house of anything that points to springtime. Then on Holy Saturday, I pull out all the stops and deck the house, not just with Easter flowers, but also with anything I have that says, “Spring!” This year, for Lent, I’ve decided to put away more than I usually do. Inspired by Fountains of Carrots Podcast: Taking the ‘Womp, womp” out of Lent with Bonnie Engstrom, we’re quieting the house for Lent. Let me show you what I mean . . .
Normally, I have a runner or a table cloth on our dining room table, with some sort of cake stand, platter, bowl or vase in the middle. And our little round table in the corner usually has some sort of flower arrangement on it. I also like hanging little garlands from the chandelier from time to time. The surfaces of the two tables are clear now and the room just looks quiet.
Our kitchen is NEVER this clean. Like ever. So please don’t start judging me for what a neat freak I am. I just wanted to share with you a starting point or goal. Usually there are throw pillows on the bench, bowls on the counter under the open shelving, and just stuff all over the island. I also like to display some pretty plates, platters, and baskets on my open shelves as well. This sparse look is so Lenten to me. It’s peaceful and serene.
For starters, let me explain where I put a large amount of my “pretty things.” See the large unit behind the little antique settee? We bought that huge thing on Craigslist! It was designed at Home Depot by a couple who wanted more storage in their town house. I guess they didn’t like how much space it took up in their guest room so they wanted to get it out quickly. They charged us an incredibly low price, low enough that we were able to hire a carpenter to install it. He added beadboard behind the shelves, molding to the top and bottom of the unit, and little rounded shelves on either end to really make it look custom. Since our dining room is too small for a china cabinet, we house all of our extra dishes, teacups, bar ware, liquor cabinet, children’s books, grown-ups’ books, serving dishes, candles, candle holders, vases, and so much more in this one unit. I truly do not know what I’d do without it. To make it look less cluttered, I like to group like colors and objects on the display shelves. It really helps calm the clutter when you do this. So on the left shelves, I have all white dishes. In the middle are all the books, and on the right is all the clear glass. The grown up books are grouped by color. Reds books are on the right outer shelves. Then on the center shelves, I have blues, blacks, whites, creams, oranges, golds, and yellows. This is a great decorating trick, especially when you have a lot of something. Trust me when I say that this is an area that I change almost monthly.
I have never tried this one before, but I have to say, today, I’m happy with it. We’ll see about tomorrow or next week. I put away all the throw pillows! They add a lot of texture and color to our living room, so to me, it’s immediately obvious when I glance in the room. I have a feeling that we will end up pulling a couple of the pillows out of storage before Lent comes to a close, especially if we have anyone over for a visit. I really like how streamlined and clean it looks without the pillows, though. So simple.
This is our office/music room. There are many things I’d like to do with this room someday, but for now, it works. It tends to be the room where clutter gathers quite a bit. Since I don’t have a laptop, this is where I do all my blogging. I am completely incapable of being creative when there is a mess all around me. Piles of paper, receipts, and schoolwork are enough to keep me from writing for weeks. All kinds of negative energy wells up inside me when all I can think about is all the work I have to do. The number one thing that helps me love my creative space is to get organized. I’m sure this is the case for many of us, right? Even in college, I could only start studying when my dorm room was clean.
We used to have the printer, a box for hanging files, and a basket for odds and ends on this desk top. That is the problem with a large desk top: it gives you plenty of room to put stuff! So we moved the printer to the top of a bookshelf across the room (it’s wireless), we decided to eliminate the hanging file box altogether, and “basket for odds and ends” is just another way of saying “drawer.” Now we have plenty of open space and I cannot get over how positively this has affected me. I am so much more likely to sit down and be creative. Before, when I sat down at the desk with all of its clutter and piles and stuff, my head was cluttered too.
I hope these ideas and photos have inspired you. There are so many inspiring ideas for Lent out there. It can be overwhelming at times. My hope is that the concept of quieting your house will assist you on your Lenten Journey. As for me, I feel ready to enter in to the beauty of this holy season that is nearly upon us. Hopefully my “quiet house” will help me to focus on growing in holiness this Lent. Because you and I both know, the lack of stuff is pretty much the ONLY quiet thing about this house!
Here’s to a fun Mardi Gras tomorrow, followed by a Holy Lenten Season!