This post is part of Cindy’s Hidden Art of Homemaking Book Club for chapter 5 on interior decorating.
In this chapter Edith not only admonishes us to take the time to personalize and decorate our living areas, whether they be a home, a tent, a hotel room, or anything else, but also shows how making our own things rather than buying all brand new items off the shelf to match a magazine layout can be more satisfying. We should, in our homes, be free to express our personalities by being unconventional and by utilizing the creative opportunities afforded to us by “making do” with the materials and the talents put in our way.
In our home, such creativity is actually expressed by my husband more than by me. I bring the bookshelves full of books as a centering decorating feature to every room. I requested wall shelves so I could arrange little mini mantels that change seasonally (supposedly; I’m still working on figuring out what to use and how to arrange things).
My husband made the trim around the windows and doorways after he put in hard flooring (replacing the carpet and raising the living room). Rather than buy expensive trim pieces, we spent an hour or so looking up pictures of craftsman-style trim and my husband just bought plain boards, painted them, and figured out how to make them look good. He made the clock in the living room, featuring elvish numbers and the poem to Elbereth. He made the clock hanging over the fireplace with the remains of a wine barrel we bought on our tenth anniversary trip. He hung the beautiful wood Crokinole board on the wall above the piano.
I suppose I get to take credit for the Vermeer. I also conceived of and pulled off the idea of “tapestries” mounted in the dining room (much cheaper than large art). They are mounted in such a way that someday I can make a few more out of different fabric panels so I can change them out seasonally.
We have a cross-stitch piece by my mom, photos taken by my dad, and a large Old-World-style world map. There is the map of Middle Earth I got Matt for his birthday a few years ago that we finally hung a few months ago. My favorite decorating pieces, though, are the pretty oak bookshelves we bought three or four years ago. Close second place are the funky new countertops from the online shop: Cut My Plastic, I’m so happy my home is shaping up!
Someday I will finish and hang the cross-stitch piece I began 6 years ago. Someday I would like seasonal door wreaths. Someday I will hang family photos in the stairway and upstairs hall – but first we’ll have to get around to applying the second coat of paint on those walls (it’s only been 18 months since we ran out of paint and lost steam).
For our anniversary two years ago I finally decorated our bedroom for the first time. Soon I might even fill in all the frames I spray painted and hung.
Decorating is not my forte or my passion, but I do like the effect after it’s done. I’ve learned to be happy with small steps taken bit by bit over the course of years. My creativity in this area does not abound, but takes time to build up and move from general ideas to specific plans to action.
But if the goal is to use one’s home as an outlet for creativity and expressing personality more than it is to have a well-decorated home by magazine (or Pinterest) standards, then this slow-moving pattern is itself an expression of my decorating style.
When I think of interior decoration in our house, I tend to see the areas where I’d like to buy an out-of-the-box solution (new living room set, that sort of thing). But, then I open my eyes to unconventional expressions of our family on our walls, and I see that most of our wall space is occupied, and that I do enjoy the overall effect. Each piece has time and thought and effort put into it, and represents a slow evolution toward hominess and cohesiveness that will, I hope, continue throughout our lives.