As we begin our new book study, Emilie Barnes's "Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home", let me give you an overall view of what we shall be reading.
A beautiful home is not actually a dwelling full of expensive decor. As you read through the chapters you will discover that from Emilie's perspective a home gathers a garment of beauty from the atmosphere we homemakers create within our walls, from our use of simple adornments, how we cultivate a sense of 'welcome' for all who cross our threshold, and from the attitude of our very own hearts.
A home can, of course, be magazine beautiful, yet empty of a loving and nurturing atmosphere, so this book aims to lead us through various ways we can add beauty to our dwelling place through the work of our hands, using what we already have, getting our hearts right with God, and choosing to love the home we have - no matter the size, condition, or location.
The book is broken up into nine chapters, so hopefully I can prepare a chapter study twice a month until we finish the book. I'll type in italics when I'm sharing stories from the book. The rest will be my own thoughts.
So let us now begin with chapter one...
Emilie was a 17yo child bride when her husband carried her over the threshold of their first apartment, just three tiny rooms. They used their initiative to create a home which was not just lovely to look at, but was a comfortable and inviting place for themselves and visitors, using what they had on hand, such as a box for a lamp table and an old trunk for a coffee table. She sewed curtains for the windows and made over an old wrought iron outdoor table with white paint to serve as a dining table.
When I read this my mind was immediately transported back to Nana and Pop's three room ground-floor flat (apartment). When I pondered those memories and walked through each room in my mind, I suddenly realised how much creativity it took for Nana to make a home in such a tiny space, a home which they eventually shared with a toddler (me). Every bit of space was needed, without making our home look or feel cluttered, and she did an amazing job of filling those rooms with beauty, cleanliness (everything sparkled) and a wordless welcome for myself, Pop and any visitors.
She wrote after one move, later in her life, "We're finding that we love our new home as much as we have loved our previous homes...we are homemaking - literally making a home. We are working to create a lifestyle that says "welcome" to ourselves and everyone around us."
Emilie believed that we all need a spiritual centre and a place to belong, and that very much inspired her to make her home a place of sanctuary, but she also said, "Home is as much a state of the heart and spirit as it is a specific place."
Something which resonated with me early in this chapter was reading that Emilie and her husband moved many times in their marriage, just as my husband and I have. She carried a love for making a house a home with her into each new dwelling, be it great or small.
I remember during our homeschool years, reading from one of Sally Clarkson's books, where she said that if we want our children to love being home that we need to create an atmosphere within our homes to nurture that love in their hearts. I expanded on that in my thinking because it's not just the children we want to love being home, it's our husbands too.
Our family have moved 22 times, from one side of Australia to the other, and right up the centre. With every move my first intention was to create a comfortable, functional, beautiful and welcoming space for every family member. Being conscious that our stay may only be six months, or perhaps a year or two, it was essential that the children felt relaxed with familiar items around them, a continuation of their favourite meals, delicious morning and afternoon teas where they curled up on the couch in rapt attention while I read aloud epic stories of adventure and courage. We really took 'home' wherever we went.
Emilie reminds us that a welcoming home is where real life happens, not a hole where you disappear to eat and sleep. We nurture personalities there, our own included. The caring, nurturing quality of home (not the absence of noise or strife) is what makes a home a refuge.
Using our senses to create a refuge at the end of the day is a wonderful welcome for those just arriving home. Here are a few of Emilie's suggestions -
* soft lights such as candles, lamps or an open fire
* soothing music
* something delicious baking in the oven or simmering on the stove
* a tidy entrance area
* burning essential oils in the oil burner
* adding flowers to a vase on the table (even just a few sprigs from your own garden) or some fresh herbs displayed in small glass
And don't forget about yourself - what stirs thoughts of sanctuary, beauty and contentment in your own mind?
Many people live alone and the art of curating a welcoming home is just as important for them as for a couple, or a family. Just because there's only one or two of you in the dwelling, this should not stop you from taking time to fill your personal space with things that speak beauty, and are unique to your personal preference.
For me it's creating in the kitchen (aromas), tending the garden and bringing in produce to fill a bowl on the kitchen bench, relaxing with handwork such as embroidery or crochet to eventually display around the home, sitting out under the beautiful Poinciana tree with a book and a cool drink because we planted that tree for just this purpose, cutting my roses to fill vases for the living room and my desk, rearranging furniture and changing the cushion covers seasonally for a fresh look, just resting with a large cup of tea and music as the afternoon winds down, and adding lemon myrtle to the oil burner just before my husband arrives home from work.
A welcoming home is where real life happens. It's where personalities are nurtured, where growth is stimulated, where people feel free not only to be themselves but also to develop their best selves.
As this chapter progresses Emilie writes on the importance of organisation.
A welcoming home is organised around the purpose of making life easier and more meaningful.
Just as God is a God of order and not chaos, we automatically feel more comfortable and more welcome when we sense His kind of order in our lives.
Organisation, even if your home is now in chaos, doesn't have to happen all at once. As we open our hearts and attitudes to God, putting Him first in our lives and looking to Him for guidance, He will show us little ways to organise the chaos and lead a more peaceful, ordered existence.
Most important, a welcoming home is a place of blessing - a place where you are made aware of God's blessing and through which you pass on His blessings to others.
Have you ever walked through the rooms of your home and prayed a blessing over each one? This is something we did with every one of our 22 house moves. However, now that we have bought a home, and God willing, will see our days out here, I forget to walk through and pray those blessings every so often. This will be done today, and I shall leave a reminder in my diary to do this every season, for a home blessing is a very precious thing.
When we gather to pray over a dwelling, or whether we pray alone, it is a wonderful time to remember the whole point of 'home'.
For home is not merely a structure of wood, brick and metal. Home is what grows within its walls, nurtured by the hearts and souls of those who live within.
Emilie closes this first chapter with a long list of 'simple secrets' to creating a beautiful home, which I won't include in this post, but here's a few that stood out ...
* A gentle modulated voice does wonders for making those around you feel loved and welcomed. Screaming only causes stress.
* Does your telephone voice speak a welcome? Is it warm, helpful and gracious? Does it represent a sweet spirit to those who call?
* Monitor the noise levels in your home. Turn off the television and play soft music to soothe the soul.
* Stitch a home blessing.
You can download my free pattern 'The Lord Bless You' HERE
Finally, a recipe from Emilie Barnes, one for a welcoming aroma at dinner time!
Marinate a cut-up chicken in fresh orange juice, crushed garlic, sliced ginger root, and one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Bake slowly for two hours at 125C (250F)
Chapter Two: We will study chapter two mid-August.
FREE PATTERN - "Welcome"
I have a brand new pattern for you to stitch as you ponder and apply the ideas shared for creating a welcoming home! I have this hanging in my kitchen now, and the colours/fabrics were chosen to blend with the cupboards and drawers, which are a light latte brown.
This to me is part of creating with intention; looking at our surroundings and decorating in a way that gathers everything together in harmony. As most of you are home sewers and stitchers like me, creating items for the home from our fabric stash is a budget friendly way to slowly enhance decor.
You may have a place in your entrance way where this "Welcome" design can hang, but as I am so often in the kitchen, especially when family visit, I felt that was where it would be loveliest.
The bird is appliqued in two sections, and the basket is also appliqued. Trace the design onto your background fabric first, but omit the applique sections. Once the tracing is done, then position your applique pieces in place. Blanket stitch around the applique with a single strand of matching thread.
I added a line of chain stitch around the wing after the blanket stitch using two strands of thread.
With two strands of thread...
The flower petals, stems, the outside of the leaves, and the large tail feathers of the bird are sewn in backstitch.
The inside of the tail feathers are lazy daisy.
The inside of the leaves are blanket stitch.
The centre of the flowers are satin stitch, surrounded by chain stitch.
Inside each petal is one lazy daisy stitch.
The eye and beak of the bird are satin stitched.
The word is chainstitched.
After trimming the completed block I added a 1/2" border (cut the fabric 1") and then a 1 1/2" border (cut the fabric 2") before quilting and adding the binding. A hanging sleeve was also added to the back.
If you need help with making this project here are a few of my tutorials - just click on the ones you are interested in.
Use the link below to download my free "Welcome" pattern.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of our new book study, and I'd love to hear your own thoughts about creating a welcoming atmosphere in your home.
Bless you heaps,
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