When I was a child, my parents let me choose the color and theme of my bedroom. A sunshine-loving, joyful 10-year-old, I chose the brightest yellow paint I could find, matched with a pink and orange tye-dyed bedspread. At 16, I convinced my parents to let me paint lines, stripes and swirls nearly free form on an entire wall, bringing modern art in decorating to a new level.
The “home” movement, with the superstars of HGTV, Marie Kondo and the entire Magnolia empire, has many of us absolutely hooked. Suddenly, everyone who’s anyone knows what shiplap is, and rooms are being arranged according to concepts many people can’t pronounce. Organization has leapt to a new level, requiring entire complex systems to manage laundry rooms.
And I love all of it.
The world takes things overboard, of course, and that’s obviously not what I’m arguing for; but in general, scripture does depict the home as a place of importance.
In the home, we dance and celebrate. In Luke 15, the lost son came to his senses and came back to his childhood home. They celebrated, rejoicing in his return to where he belonged.
In the home, we come together and grieve. In John 11-12, Jesus finds Martha and Mary and a group of mourners at home after the death of their brother.
In the home, we gather and dine. In Luke 22:9, Jesus didn’t eat his most important Passover meal in a rented party room at a restaurant; he ate it in a home.
In the home, we worship. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit first came down not in a temple, but in the home of one of the believers.
Gathering together for worship is a massively important movement in the church body, one that provides us with community and the beauty of joined worship. As iron sharpens iron, believers coming together are strengthened by seeing one another regularly and uniting towards a common goal of seeing the kingdom brought down to earth. Yet we can accidentally think that our “church” checks out at the bottom of the building’s steps, that good and holy places can’t be made outside of those four walls.
The “church” is made to be as much in our homes as it is in our church buildings. The church is wherever the people of God are, where they live and move and have their being (Acts 17:28), and he dwells where two or more are gathered in his name (Matthew 18:20).
In my house, it’s just me and my husband, but that makes two. We desire to worship God with our whole lives. When we eat dinner or laugh on the floor or dance in the living room or watch a movie on the couch, we want to be gathered in his name. Our homes are as sacred spaces as where we gather on Sundays, because they are where we spend most of our time. With intentionality, we can make our houses the number one place where we bring God’s kingdom to earth, smack-dab in the middle of diapers and dinnertime.
So, our homes matter, we get it. But does home design really matter?
Cautiously, as a believer, I say…Yes. But consider this less of a call to drop $100 in the decor section at Target, and more of a call to set down perfection and pick up beauty. A call to set down Pinterest, magazines or home improvement shows, and look to our imaginations, to Him for inspiration. To pick up delight, thankfulness and creativity.
When we want to make our homes beautiful, when we want to create, we are tapping into a good, wholehearted desire, mirrored in God himself. In Genesis 1, he made the world. Imagine that when he said everything was good, he didn’t say it with a stern face and a furrowed brow, as I often find myself thinking, but that when he said it was good, he did it with a smile and a “whoop” of delight.
He made the earth, and we are made in his image — so we are makers, too. To see this, all we have to do is look around: Every snowflake is different. There is no greater picture of a God who creates beautiful things for pure enjoyment and delight in his ability. And we can create for his enjoyment too, especially in the place that we often have the most spatial control over: our homes.
At times I confess I get caught up in the movement. I worry that my couch looks too old and ratty for anyone to really enjoy sitting on. I get wrapped up in wanting to knock down walls in our kitchen (All of them! Just knock them down!). I want to buy new things I can’t afford. And I forget to be content. These are active battles against sin for me. If I don’t carefully check my heart in the home design process, I start to daydream about Joanna Gaines crying tears of joy when she sees my living room, or Southern Living dying to come over to take pictures of my kitchen. These patterns reveal a misplaced desire for beauty in my heart, a worry that leans more towards pleasing HGTV than pleasing the Lord.
As a believer, I don’t want to settle for these superficial, sinful inclinations in the design process. I want to notice beauty, and design in a way that sparks not just joy, but living joy inside our home.