15 October 2013

On making a home: a few questions

"It seems to me that, whether it is recognized or not, there is terrific frustration which increases in intensity and harmfulness as time goes on, when people are always daydreaming of the kind of place in which they would like to live, yet never making the place where they do live into anything artistically satisfying to them." -Edith Schaeffer

Lately I've been in a bit of a quandary about my decorating style. Not that I don't like what I have; it's been so fun collecting things slowly. Everything has a story and a process of how it got here. It's not all coordinated but if it feels cohesive enough, (or of it's a couch that paid less then $10 for!) I can easily forgive it for not being perfect. My quandary comes in that lately I've start to think that maybe being a good and responsible wife actually means investing in some things of value - rather then always buying the biggest score at the next auction.
Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard is one of my favorite books. I found it when I was much younger, still living in my mother's house, and I didn't realize how much it has influenced me until I picked it up again in the past few days.
Either that woman is reading my mind or else she has greatly impacted the way that I think.  
She's an interior designer, and though the concepts she presents are timeless, the book itself is a bit dated. Even so, as the title suggests, it's full of warm thoughts and ideas about making a home and living well. Special soaps, good towels, engaging the senses in the tasks and rituals of daily living is what she's all about.

"I've become convinced that only by paying careful attention to the simple details of daily tasks and to our immediate surroundings can we live vitally and beautifully all the days of our lives." 

This is the very core of what I believe! It thrills me and sets me glowing with purpose ...while at the very same time I've realized it's the very thing that can be completely paralyzing.
This means every single detail of every daily task that I do is monumentally important. Taking out the trash is not just taking out the trash, the task must be completed with scented bags and a proper container chosen specifically for it's pleasing aesthetic.
 Edith Schaeffer brings a wonderful balance to this concept in "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" - which is, I think, the best book ever written on creating a home. There are so many wonderful quotes and things I could say about this book!
("Ugh read it! I know you'll love it!" My brain still works in quotes from the movie You've Got Mail).
She has a compelling way of suggesting that you can create a beautiful life virtually out of nothing.
"Express yourself not only in selecting things to buy, not only in your choice from many things displayed in a store, but also what you can produce yourself, with some degree of originality, craftsmanship or artistic creativity." 
She even adds that keeping waste out of landfills would be one of many good reasons to rescue things from being tossed out and instead "turning them into an object that has purpose and charm in your home."
 She is so encouraging, no matter what your life situation; single, married, mansion, a one-room cave in the rocks or a different hotel every night, making the place where you lay your head at night functional and beautiful is one of the most important pursuits you can accomplish!
I love having an entire house to decorate and fill with found treasures, but it was really so simple when all i had was a few boxes stashed in the back of my jeep that went everywhere with me.
Recently after ordering -and paying full price! - for some window treatments I didn't like, I am becoming more happy with what I've been using as an excuse for curtains, which is mostly old linens, burlap bags, and some my mom and a sweet neighbor gave me. But does that mean I should keep limping along with my old yard sale coffee pot or should i invest in the one i really want? Wait, I already know the answer to this one! Few things are more important than really good coffee. There is probably no other ritual done with greater frequency in this house; it should certainly be done well!
Clarita wrote an inspiring and beautiful post on "Making a 5-Star Bed" that has me convinced of the absolute necessity of 1000-thread count sheets, but there are a few other decisions that aren't quite as easy.  

Since we've established that the smallest details are what make up the whole of a life well lived, how do you decide which are most important to focus on, and spend money on? Which details do you make do or "make from nothing"?
How do you decide what is essential to invest in for the home that God has given you? (I'm so glad we can go to Him for wisdom on these things.)

I will probably calm down soon and just go gather a bunch of lavender to keep on my bathroom sink but I'd love to hear some thoughts on this subject. I always have an opinion about this sort of thing and I'm pretty sure you do to.
Do I really need to not rest until I've installed a proper trashcan?

32 comments:

  1. I LOVE your sweet and cozy home! Oh...it just speaks to who YOU are and your style is amazing. You definitely have a good "eye."

    I do think it is wise to invest in some high quality appliances/things in the home. For instance, I like high quality sheets because they last longer. I can't always afford to buy them, but if I can, I'll spend the money. Towels are another thing as well as some good kitchen utensils. They last and just make life easier. I am always thrifting, though, and have found many great items on the hunt!

    Thank you for such an inspiring post....I am going to share it with my readers!

    ~Julia

    PS: I have always wanted to read that book! I am ordering it today :).

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    1. Thanks for your feedback Julia! I take your words to heart even more because I know that it's coming from a perspective of contentment. You have reminded me so many times to choose to be content, by the way you write and the way you live. I am grateful! and of course you can use a photo, delighted that you would share it.

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  2. PS...again...Would you mind if I used one of your photos in sharing about your post? :)

    ~Julia

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  3. Good read my friend. I've always had the theory you can make a barn into a home. Some homes that have top of the line everything are still unfriendly. While some quality things are essential- like an oven that bakes even. Details are big to me- even if you have a simple meal, set the table well and garnish the simple food you are serving. I want our home to be welcoming and I want my husband to be able to set down on our furniture after a long days work without having to take a shower. Just like a pretty dish on the shelf- why not use it and enjoy it? I guess we each can find our balance on what to spend money on and what works just fine the way it is. Perspective goes a long way. By the way, I love your decorating- it makes me feel warm and cozy inside.

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    1. Sometimes I feel like I live in a barn when my husband comes home with his pants for me to wash. hehe ;) You are really the queen of living well in the smallest details of the day to day and i'm glad I get to share that life with you.

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  4. Having moved into my (now) husband's home which I lovingly refer to as my bachelor pad (Ha), it's been a tough and stressful year or so trying to make it "home". It's an older house that was built during a time in design that I wouldn't refer to as my favorite (late 60's, early 70's). It has a lot of unfavorable characteristics that bother me (for example I have carpet in MY BATHROOM, gross!) but it's our home for right now and I am doing the best I can to make it OURS. Having a degree in interior design, I've been exposed to SO MANY amazing styles of design, it really is hard for me to pin point what I love best and eventually what I will want when we build our forever home. I, like you, am very eclectic and enjoy making my own designs out of things I find or pick up somewhere versus having a home that looks like it's bought out of a catalog.

    So far, my rules to myself in designing and updating our home have been: start with one room at a time because otherwise I'd have 10 different stages of projects across the whole house. It's been so hard not to jump ahead but so far I've stuck to the plan. My second rule is that if I can, I try to make things or DIY whatever I can. That's just a personal preference and it has slowed down a lot of my design because crafting and DIY-ing takes time. My third rule is trying to fill our house with something personal or sentimental in every room. Much like our wedding, I want our home to FEEL like it should be ours. Plus I like to have little trinkets or memories of times we had together. Whenever I travel I try and pick up something for our home to remember the vacation or trip by.

    Anyways, I am rambling... Your home is gorgeous! I feel like it's the perfect amount of cozy and eclectic!

    p.s. I am super envious of your canning collection! I JUST canned this summer and I am hooked!

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    1. Canning really is a bit addictive isn't it? So enjoyable. How fortunate that you have a degree in design, I love to study this subject... how a color makes you feel, the way a door swings in, all the subtle things that feel so comfortable but are mostly only visible to the subconscious.
      The first year of marriage can be so fun - and really so crazy because there is absolutely EVERYthing to do at once! It took me much longer then I expected, but my aunt reminded me once there is so much joy in making a home, gradually over time... Just hearing her say that helped me relax and enjoy the process more. Enjoyed your ramblings! =)

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  5. What a wonderful, thoughtful post. I definitely agree that at least for me, meaningful and personal items collected over time and thoughtful details are what makes a home for me- and decorating with what you love and are drawn to. Invest in the pieces that are important to you to be high quality. I'm so glad I discovered your blog- looking forward to browsing around!

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    1. I'm glad you're here, delighted to find yours as well!

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  6. Oh my goodness....I just love your home!!! I can't even believe that you would question your
    decorating! Everything is gorgeous and just so warm! I love that book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking
    by Edith Schaeffer. It has always been one of my very favorites on homemaking. I believe....
    home is where the heart is.....
    wherever that is.....
    with whatever one has......
    I have seen all kinds of homes that are beautiful even in the poorest of towns...with as little
    as possible!
    Corinne

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    1. Thank you Corinne! =) You're right, I really love your perspective. Happy to know someone else has been loving that book!

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  7. It definately has something to do w/ having things you love around you. If a stainless steel $100 trashcan isn't giving you any warm fuzzies, I doubt it's worth the splurge. Megan^^ said it well, quality pieces collected over time.
    It's prly differant for everyone, what makes them feel calm and restful in a home. I like things simple and uncluttered, while the next individual might love tons of little treasures sitting around. I know it stresses my husband out when there's alot of clutter everywhere, kinda like how i feel when the carpet is stained and blotchy (hence saving my pennies for an expensive deep steam clean one day soon....)
    i loving seeing glimpses of your home and how you decorate. Something tells me it would be fun to go 2nd hand shopping w/ you!

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    1. It is different for everyone, home is deeply personal and I think that's what makes it wonderful. You have good style, and yes, good point, so important to recognize and value the feelings of the ones you live with -esp husband!

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  8. I love your home! It just speaks of comfort and contentment. I think I'll check out that book, too. :)

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  9. I can say with certainty, sight unseen, that your current trash-can is fine, or will be once you glue a little lace round the top edge. Your house looks beautifully cosy, inviting, and individual. One of the best home decorating steps one can take, I believe, is to display as many items as makes sense on open shelves, so that there is incentive to arrange them pleasingly rather than chuck them into a dusty cupboard.

    Now, this is also a 'Guess How Many Eggs' contest, right? I'm venturing 18.

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    1. Now you've set the wheels in my head spinning, I do have some burlap and glue, anything is possible really! ;)
      You win the prize, no one else even came close!

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  10. I came a visiting because Julia shared this post.
    I be staying because I love it all!
    ~Kimberly
    http://kimberlys-cup.blogspot.com

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  11. I have to admit, my heart did a happy skip when I saw the first quote by Edith Schaeffer! I read her book on homemaking many years ago, rereading it after I had a home of my own, and she provided inspiration like no other author has for me in the homemaking department. She also put words to so many of my own desires ~ of beauty, of contentment, of making home a place of rest and warmth, and that even with starving children in Africa it is okay to make OUR home a special, beautiful place (sometimes I can feel guilty in that respect). I would love to read the other book you recommend, if it's anything like Schaeffer's inspiration!

    Also, I am honored to be linked to. A well-made bed brings me great delight. :)

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    1. She really does that! Meaning she puts words to things i've only thought of, that's one of the things I LOVE about her!! Yes you are making a wonderful contribution to the world by making thoughtful choices to make your home beautiful.

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  12. I'm going to have to "check out" these books you mention.

    You are certainly speaking my language here. I can relate and have near the same quandaries... you are having.

    This post and book suggestions remind me of the book: The Spirit of Loveliness by Emilie Barnes.

    Good stuff..

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    1. Please do, they are so inspiring. I so appreciate things that encourage me to love my home more, instead of making me wish for something i don't have.

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  13. Hi Amy. I am your newest follower and discovered you via Julia at Blissfully Content! The moment I started to read your post I got all excited...somebody else actually has read "Living a Beautiful Life" by Alexandria Stoddard???!!! (I love how you mention that the book itself is a bit dated, but not her ideas and concepts!). But what really caught my eye was the quote by Edith Schaeffer. I can't remember, but I think Ms. Stoddard was like a student or friend of hers? Regardless, it seems quite a few of your readers have read her book and I'm thinking I should, too! But what I really wanted to share was that I think sometimes, blogs and especially Pinterest can make me quite unsatisfied with what I currently own...or with what I don't have...how what my house doesn't look like...LOL

    Oh, and I love everything by Emilie Barnes too! You keep good company. Hugs from the Heartland.

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    1. ah I love that you've read it! I don't know if i've ever actually met anyone who has! ;) If you love her you would def love Edith. I did not know that they were connected, that makes it even better!! I'll have to check into that. That is the very thing I love about these 2 books, they make me want to work with what I have and enjoy it more!

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  14. Please don't jump to a new topic quickly! I have some thinking to do about this! :-) Well, you know I have always enjoyed being in your home, even before you became "Mrs." You are such an artist, far more than I could ever attempt (but I am perfectly fine with that now!) I yam what I yam!! A little background...my mother had THE most uncluttered house! Growing up, I thought that was THE norm. (A friend commented that she felt like she was in a motel...a little hurtful at the time...) As I moved on and began to see the possibilities (and I'm talking about in the '70s!), I journeyed through so many phases. I do remember an acquaintance of mine in the '80s saying tips to a group of us about pillows, candles, etc. and to me, it was like....Revelations!! It was so far from my experience. (This may sound far-fetched, but it's accurate.) So, all through the years, I have picked up a little here, a little there from my bouquet of friends and family. Most of what I currently have is sentimental (children-produced art, mementos and such.) I am quite sure my own grown children are weary of that and anticipate putting their own mark on their surroundings. Isn't that so often the pattern? The pendulum swings.

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  15. Loved these thoughts, Ames! You have a gift for making a lovely home so I love reading what you write about making a home. I will re-read this and glean more stuff. Look forward to talking soon. Love you!

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  16. I can not find the book by Edith Schaeffer in our library's system. Is it that old? I came to your blog by way of Blissfully Content. Both blogs are warm and fuzzy and make me want to have you over for coffee and conversation!

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    1. You can buy it on Amazon for like .99 plus shipping. Yes! Coffee and conversation are 2 of my favorite things!

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  17. Home>>>
    layers of history
    coffee
    candles
    a gathering place | friends can come in and shed the world's cares | a place where they are loved
    cautious of trends
    keep it simple
    objects that are useful & beautiful
    found | do scour auctions, thrift stores and the like >>>those things keep their style always
    & just maybe a very good electric frother, for those long winter days ;)
    oh, and just being authentic to who you are and that shows in home keeping!
    (Your home spoke volumes of your personality & heart>>your flair is perfect in every way!)
    (BUT, one more thing as I near 40 I have certainly become very picky to what I buy even at an auction etc.!}

    xo
    kara


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    1. The electric frother, now on my must-have list. We are miles away from a decent coffee shop! It seems you are getting wiser, auctions can quickly add to an accumulation of junk - and not the good kind! I'm working on removing anything I "don't find to be useful or beautiful". You're ever so encouraging!

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  18. gosh, i must say it. i love your home. i love all these wood elements, i love the little detail you put there. i just moved out so i think i should start to make my home a home too

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  19. Hello Amy, I am a new visitor to your beautiful blog. I just love all your photos and posts. Would you be able to show more pictures of your hexagon quilt? Your posts really touched my heart. Ann

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