This is the first time I've ever had some much scope for domestic activity, and I'm finding the task both daunting and inspiring. Where I once wondered about Ikea curtains I'm now contemplating new gas ranges and moving entire walls. It's a heady sense of possibility coupled with nervous glances towards the budget sheet and days spent sifting through chandeliers, fabric choices, and paint colors as I try to define a vision for our new home. This process is revealing how I'm both deeply stubborn and fiercely insecure. At times the reality that we're spending thousands of dollars based (largely) on my judgement and preferences sets a whole formation of doubts marching before my eyes. With Allen's support and guidance most of our decisions have come out well, but during the between times when we're handing out checks and not seeing the fruition it's easy for me question everything about my judgement and preferences. After all, if a girl grew up with formica countertops and never questioned them before why should she start romancing her imagination with soapstone? But, I'm stubborn. There are so many ugly, cheap and just plain pretentious things out there, and I want a home made with substance and beauty and simplicity. At one point we were considering formica countertops, and I was starting to feel a little batty trying to find something beautiful that wasn't fake stone. I realize other people feel differently, but to me the beauty of formica is that it's not stone. Technically speaking I'm sure you could make formica plaid if you wanted to, but instead everyone tries to make another granite look alike that ends up resembling granite about as well as melamine resembles antique mahogany. I like things that do a good job being what they are and don't try to be a poor version of something they definitely are not. And really my formica search was just the beginning. Lighting, fixtures, cabinets - it's a struggle assembling a pleasant home when you have views about faucet aesthetics.
I suppose this could all sound very much like a first world problems kind of blog post, but I actually think it goes way beyond that. This isn't about how much money you have because I've seen more beautiful options at virtually all price levels (especially when you include searching second hand stores and craigslist). It's about a world that often values the showy and "high status" over what is beautiful and enduring and what we homemakers can do to fight this trend. I think as Christians we need to live in ways that are gracious, peaceful, and welcoming, and our homes should reflect this. Think about the various historical periods of the past - many of them had a certain style of furnishings that developed along with that period's zeitgeist. That's sort of what I'm getting at here. There should be a Christian spirit that animates our door knobs and couches and window shutters, and I think this excludes much of what is ugly, cheap, or overly showy. To make an analogy - I'm saying not to buy all your clothes from Forever 21. They're mostly designed to make a show for a season and then fall apart in your washing machine three months later. By that same token, I think Christians should generally avoid bedazzling their chandeliers with gold mardi gras beads. (Don't laugh, I've shopped on Etsy before.) You can also paint things that clash and employ a modicum of aesthetic judgement when shopping for bargains. A slip cover can work wonders, or maybe you could wait a couple months to see if something nicer shows up at a yard sale. If you still aren't convinced this is worth spending time, money, and energy on I'll leave you with this - God thought it mattered. I can't recall if it was the tabernacle or the temple, but way back in the Old Testament God Himself raised up a class of artisans to beautify His residence on earth. When the arguments are over it all comes down to "because God said/did so, and we're called to be like Him."
More on how I'm personally applying this to come.