You could barely see the floor, for it was covered with piles of clothing and papers. The décor was a poster tacked to the wall above the couch. Dirty dishes were piled in the sink, and the bed was unmade. Our honeymoon cottage wasn’t exactly a paradise of order and beauty.
I came into marriage with little knowledge of housekeeping. Working full-time at a bank until our first child was born, I had neither the time nor the inclination to sharpen my skills. When our baby girl was placed in my arms for the first time, I began a journey of motherhood and home-making that I felt ill-prepared for.
Little by little I learned how to keep the house functional. During the Bootcamp Years of Motherhood, when all of the children were young and I did all the work, I barely kept my head above water at times. When our fourth child was about two years old I began to get a handle on household systems, and eventually I worked towards having an orderly, welcoming and pretty home.
Attitudes and behavior aside, the little touches throughout your home create atmosphere. I read books and tore pictures out of magazines (not the ones in waiting rooms). I studied the photos and figured out what appealed to me, then set out to copy the arrangement or colors in some way. Just like copying passages teaches young students how to write, studying decorating books taught me principles of decorating. It became a game to decorate on a budget, and I was always on the lookout at yard sales or thrift stores for items to repurpose.
Feminine touches in homemaking are important. Cheerful curtains, a bowl of fruit, china plates on the walls—the little things, layered throughout the home, make the family feel cared for and nurtured. Edith Schaeffer said, “Somebody has to stay up late, get up early, if the human garden is to be a thing of beauty.” Somebody has to care enough to light a candle and de-clutter a linen closet.
If we always “get by” on making a home because we’re busy running here and there, we will push off the importance of keeping the home a welcoming shelter from the world.
It nourishes our own soul to have orderly, lovely surroundings. This doesn’t mean expensive furniture and perfect housekeeping. Our house is decorated in Early Garage Sale and there’s often some comfortable clutter here and there. It has been a priority to have an organized home that functions efficiently, but the icing on the cake for my family has been the details that make an atmosphere of….well, “home.”
Have you ever read this short play? It’s an old-fashioned favorite of mine, one that I re-read to remind me of the importance of doing the things that a woman does best in her home. Click here to read: