Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces: The Art of Stress-free Interior Design

Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces: The Art of Stress-free Interior Design

by Sharon Hanby-Robie

ISBN: 9781881273189

Publisher Northfield Publishing

Published in Christian Books & Bibles/Christian Living, Religion & Spirituality

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Sample Chapter



"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"

When I think about "home sweet home," images from my childhood come to mind-fluffy feather pillows, the wooden toy chest, the tire swing in the backyard. We adults still want our homes to feel carefree, peaceful, and safe. We want them to be full of hugs and laughter.

What feelings come to mind when you think about your home today?

It's wonderful to have a beautifully decorated home as long as you are not a slave to it. A beautiful home is only a blessing if it meets your needs, rather you having to slave to meet its needs.

Too often our dream of an ideal home is unrealistic. What should matter the most is having a home that gives you, your family, and your friends the freedom to be yourselves. It should meet the needs of the family.

Meditations on Firm Foundations


"He (God) will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure."

Day 1

Thank You, God, for Your promise of a sure foundation even though sometimes I feel shaky.

Day 2

What are the "rich stores" on which my life and my home are built?

Day 3

Thank You for granting me salvation and wisdom and knowledge.

Day 4

How can I properly fear You?

Day 5

Teach me how to anchor my home on Your foundation.

Day 6

Grant my loved ones and me a renewed sense of our treasure in You.

Firm Foundations

A home is an earthly foundation. As children, it is the first environment we know, and from it we learn what to expect from family and outsiders. Our home lives will determine how we look at and approach the rest of the world and the rest of our lives.

In her book Your Life, Nancy Carmichael said: "It is one thing to have a wonderfully decorated and furnished house; but is the house for you, or do you exist for the house? We have real fellowship when we feel safe with one another, when there is earned trust in the relationship. Fellowship is for us, the real people with real needs. There is nothing sweeter than authentic relationships."


All aspects of our lives are touched and affected by the atmosphere of our homes. One of the most important things that we can do is to establish a home that is joyful, comfortable, and encouraging to those who dwell there.

Home life shapes families and societies. Architecturally, a well-designed and well-constructed home is one of the finer accomplishments of humankind. But a home is more than bricks and mortar. It is a place where family members can receive physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "Safe, affordable housing is a basic necessity for every family. Without a decent place to live, people cannot be productive members of society, children cannot learn and families cannot thrive."

Our homes should not only reflect our personal tastes but also express the personalities of all those who live there. Personal mementos and heirlooms passed down through the family can make a house feel like a home.

Most people stop short of finishing their homes. They get the major pieces of furniture and maybe an accessory or two. But that is just the foundation. It is the little things-color, texture, pattern, wallcoverings, area rugs, pillows, a soft throw, plants, artwork, and treasures collected throughout your life-that truly make the difference.


One of the most frequent questions I (Sharon) hear is "Where do I begin?"

Start with something you love. Whether it's a piece of artwork, a rug, a lamp, a chair, or even a piece of wallpaper, it doesn't matter as long as you love it. Then build the space around that treasured item. Learn to collect things. The objects we collect tell stories and hold memories. Finding and living with objects that we love can bring joy.

The secret is to make choices that are right for you and your family. Arrange or rearrange in a way that makes life simpler and easier. If your children hear the words "no" and "don't" every time they enter or use a room, it means your home rules are overruling practical living, and there is something wrong with the choices you have made. As Carole Mayhall says, "Being a keeper of the home is a big task, but it won't be overwhelming if you keep trying to simplify your home as well as your life."

Here are some tips for improving the foundation of your home life:

* Allow your home to be a living home that adapts to meet the changing needs and lifestyles.

* Evaluate your space and needs. Prioritize the tasks that need to be addressed in each room. If you expect children to do homework in the family room, then provide them with a table or desk.

* Don't let the fashion of the moment dictate your spaces, because you will end up sacrificing function and personal taste, which will directly impact your enjoyment of life.

* Make room for fun. Create safe spaces where children can be themselves.

* Be respectful of each family member's privacy and personal possessions.

* Designate a place or room as the "listening space." As a child, my family's spot was the kitchen table. We gathered there to express our feelings, converse with each other, and gain acceptance and recognition.

Meditations on Being a Woman of Influence

Proverbs 14:1

"A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."

Day 1

Lord, show me the foolish things I do that tear down my house and alienate my family.

Day 2

Forgive me for doing things that hurt those I love.

Day 3

What can I do today to "build" my house?

Day 4

Help me to be more self-controlled and patient at home.

Day 5

What attitudes do I need to build into my life so that I may better nurture my family and friends?

Day 6

Teach me Your wisdom.

Being a Woman of Influence

Proverbs 14:1 is one of my favorite verses. I am awed at how much influence women have within their homes. We set the tone and the atmosphere, and that impacts the lives of all who enter. What a responsibility! What an opportunity! As Christians, we have such an advantage-the Lord is the giver of wisdom! By following His example we can be sure that we are building homes that will comfort and nourish both body and soul.

Someone defined comfort as a sense of contentment we find in a place that "feels like home." That definition is interesting because our earthly homes are only temporary. They can only feel like home, since heaven is our eternal home. In the meantime, we can do our best to make our homes places that bring comfort.


Country Living magazine invited readers to share what brought them comfort in their homes. The answers were as unique as the individuals writing. For some, it was baking bread or the sound of the family dog snoring softly at the foot of the bed. Another woman cherished the routine of sharing a cup of coffee with her best friend every day at 5 P.M. Deb loves to lie in bed listening to the sound of small planes taking off and approaching the small airport near her home.

Home isn't just a building. A home is a project in process. It helps to stop occasionally and ask ourselves how we are doing at building our homes. Do we treat our family members with the same respect and civility with which we treat others? Listen to the noises in your home. Are they generally happy sounds? Are your words and tone gentle? Are you fostering an attitude of joy in togetherness? Little things like sharing the weekend chores bring a family together and make a house feel like home.


Another important element of building our homes is our relationship with God. The wise woman depends on God for her daily strength. Of course, eating right, exercising, and getting enough rest all help too. But a woman of godly character is so attractive in spirit that others can't help but be drawn to her presence.

From time to time, Deni and her husband, a high school teacher, invited his students to breakfast and Bible study in their home. "They made me feel very welcomed and loved," said Jon, a former student. "They were real and down-to-earth, and that let me be real and open with them. When I think back on my growing-up years, they stick out as two people who God used to shape and challenge me."

A wise woman does things to nurture herself, her spouse, and her children. In so doing she will nurture others in her wider circle of influence.

We all need a place to call home, a place in this world that we can truly call our sanctuary. As one writer said, home is the place where cares can be traded for dreams and where every moment spent is sweet, strengthening, and good for the soul.

Here are some ideas for making your house a home that your family loves:

* Instead of worrying about decorating, surround yourself with things you love, perhaps a cozy shawl or throw over the arm of your favorite chair.

* Incorporate family heirlooms into each room.

* Improve your health by arranging furniture so you can sit and see out the window. It takes only ten minutes of looking at God's green earth to lower your blood pressure.

* Use fabrics to transform your home into a cohesive comfort zone. Flow a unifying color into every room, and your treasures will easily work together.

* By blending colors, fabrics, and rugs from room to room, you can create the illusion of more space.

* Bake an apple pie or something else that smells and tastes pleasant, and then grab a corner of the couch and read a book to yourself or your children.

Meditations on Designing a Peaceful Place

Isaiah 32:18

"My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest."

Day 1

What do I envision when I hear the word peace?

Day 2

What do my family members envision as a peaceful setting?

Day 3

Thank You, Lord, for calling me one of Your people and for Your promise to provide a peaceful dwelling place.

Day 4

Thank You that my ultimate security rests in You.

Day 5

When I lie down to sleep, quiet my racing thoughts and slow my pounding heart.

Day 6

O Lord, how I long for a place of unending peace. May my home become a haven of peace and undisturbed rest.

Designing a Peaceful Place

When it comes to creating an atmosphere of peace and harmony, we probably don't think of color first. Yet color is all around us. Whether we are aware of its effect on us or not, it plays a vital role in how we live. Color can influence our thinking, feelings, and actions. It can irritate or calm our spirits, raise our blood pressure, and even make us hungry!


Scientists, artists, and musicians have studied color for centuries, searching for a way to explain its influence on man and animals. They have approached the concept of color from physiological, philosophical, and artistic perspectives. Although there are many different theories, there is rarely a consensus.

Why? Color is specific to the individual who sees it. How we react to a color is the result of a combination of our education, our history of exposure to it, our culture, and our eye's physical ability to see it. There are, of course, some examples where most people agree. For example, blue makes most people feel cool. No, not like "Hey, I'm cool!" but temperature cool, like "I feel chilly."

Choosing the right color for your home is probably the hardest decorating decision you have to make. It's also far more important than most of us realize, because color affects us in so many ways, consciously and subconsciously. Children are sensitive to color as well. We can actually make them feel better about themselves and their spaces by the right color choices. (See pages 63-64 under the heading "Use a Signature Print" for more on children and colors.)


Decorate your home with the colors you and your family love. It doesn't matter what the latest trends are or what the fashion gurus think. What does matter is that you love your home and that your choices make sense for you and your family. One man I know is color-blind. For years, his wife graciously allowed him to choose the wall color for his den and a few additional rooms. He said those rooms were the only places that looked good to him, but he and his colorblind friends were the only ones who called them attractive.

The use of color is an easy and inexpensive way to bring a little peace and harmony to your home. Try using calming colors of green, lilac, or blue in the areas where you relax as a family or in your bedrooms. At the end of a day, add some quiet inspirational background music and you will bring a bit of heaven into your atmosphere, which should be good for the soul!

Nature is a major influential force for our color choices. Blue is one of the most dominant colors of the decade, but orange is the hue of choice as a symbol of optimism and happiness. Here are some ways to use color to influence your mood.


Excerpted from "Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces: The Art of Stress-free Interior Design" by Sharon Hanby-Robie. Copyright © 2004 by Sharon Hanby-Robie. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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