Making a Lifegiving Home
We moved into our new home in April. Since then, I've been loving the process of cultivating a space that feels peaceful for myself, and warm and welcoming for those who enter. I've been finding a lot of joy in creating beauty in this space, since it's the first home I've lived in that truly matches my aesthetic. Sure, there are plenty of things I could change or add if we had the resources to do it all, but honestly, I kind of like not having the means to be able to do it all. It's growing contentment in me, and revealing where I am not content. Right now I'm loving the little by little progress to make this place a sanctuary for all the people who fill it.
I've been working on a few projects to that end and I thought I'd share them with you today :) I recently finished reading the book The Lifegiving Home by Sally & Sarah Clarkson. So refreshing and inspiring! It's rich with truths about God's word as well as practical examples on how our homes can be havens for people. Sally and Sarah talk about how beauty in our homes actually provides a sense of belonging to those who are in the space.
I love this perspective on what I guess I would call home decor. Now, "decor" isn't just to fill the walls or have something nice to be complimented on when a friend comes over. The whole idea is redefined so that you really are designing a home of respite and welcome to those who enter. My perspective has shifted from wanting things just because they are beautiful, to wanting them because they have beauty AND purpose.
I've written before, in my Pursuit of Less series, that I like to keep things minimal. I don't love looking at too many things, which is why most of our toys are hidden, and the ones that are out are really inspiring to me and the kids. It's also why every addition to our home is weighed for it's value - like do I really want this, because it will be something extra to clean ;)
Inspired from this book - here are a few of the recent changes I've made in our home and intentional function of each. Nothing is particularly life changing - but I thought they might give you a starting place as you seek to make your own home a place of refuge and meaning for the people who fill it.
I cleared off a lot of the clutter from the side of our refrigerator and just kept what mattered most to our family. Reminders to pray for missionaries, our meal plan, my work out plan, and a scripture memory verse calendar from our church's preschool ministry. This is right next to our chopping block, as you can see at the bottom of the picture. This makes it super easy for me to glance over for some discipleship content to talk about with Reaghan or to know what to pull out of the freezer for dinner.
This wall has been so many things since we've moved in. I wanted to do a chalkboard here based off something we used to do in our old house, and something mentioned by Sally in the book. I love the idea of having a place to write encouragements, verses, or welcomes to dinner guests. It changes with the holidays with minimal banners and chalk art. For example, for Thanksgiving we had a leaf banner that said "happy fall" strung across the chalkboard and people wrote their gratitudes when they came over on the chalkboard.
Just below the chalkboard is a wire curtain hanger from IKEA that we are using to hang up kids artwork.
To the right is our kitchen table and to the left is Reaghan's activity tables with some velcro on the walls for different educational charts to cycle through.
This little Montessori-inspired shelf is one of my favorites. I can just plop Everett down in front of it and he will start grabbing baskets and playing. I love that it's all at their level and invites them in to play. I keep mostly educational books on this shelf - our Usborne books, or our "read-aloud" books (this is a Charlotte Mason principle I just discovered...simply spending time during the day reading to your children).
This shelf is constantly evolving. In fact, since taking this picture, I've put all of Everett's toys in a drawer in our entertainment center and now have a free basket for something new. I also am cycling out the letter puzzle and bead toy.
Over the years we have printed Chatbooks of vacations and one a year with family memories. This has become one of my favorite purchases during Christmas time. I wanted a way to keep them displayed in a way that would invite visitors to flip through them. It's a way for people to get to know our family's story a bit better and just be filled with joy from the cute baby pictures! It also reminds us to spend time remembering the past of our family story as we continue to live in it.
This is the wall that you see right when you walk into our home. It's a small entry way. I needed somewhere to "catch" all our things when coming and going. We got this bench from Overstock and I threw some pillows on it. In the future, I'd love to get some bigger pillows with inspiring phrases and even some pillows to change with the seasons - but that's for the future! ;)
The basket on the right keeps adult shoes, and the basket on the left keeps Reaghan's shoes. The middle cubby is for my purse so it's out of the way. I love this little space for Reaghan to sit down and put on her shoes/put them away herself.
Right above this we have two clear command hooks that hold our keys and a white IKEA picture ledge that has yet to be really filled. I'm still deciding what I want there - but definitnely a sign with a message of welcome to guests. Let me know if you have ideas!
This tray sits here for dimension on the table but also as a reminder to put others first and to serve. It's a reference to a story in the book Life in Community by Dustin Willis.
Clean and simple! I didn't want a lot of stuff on top of the entertainment center especially since the TV is so big. Under the candles I have two books - one called "Until the Whole World Hears" which is a historical missionary book from Cru, and one with lots of pictures of Italy - both reminders to pray for the lost and an invitation for others to look through them if they wish.
The wicker tray holds books and Bible study materials. The drawers are organized with toys, DVD's and more photo albums I'm not sure what to do with yet ;)
This gallery wall is going to transform in the next few months. I have been sitting on it for a while, not sure what to do with it. I think I'll keep the layout, but will be changing pictures out. I want this to be a wall of remembrance - much like the stone of remembrance in 1 Samuel. The wall will hold milestones and special significant times in our family. I'm sure I'll post on Instagram when I'm finished!
So as you can see I'm definitely still in process! But I wanted to share with y'all how I try to make my home a place of refuge and welcome, especially since we spend so much time here! I hope it gives you some ideas, and I definitely recommend The Lifegiving Home if you haven't already read it.
How I will implement the ideas in this book throughout the year:
Each chapter centers around a month out of the year. Sally and Sarah share their thoughts on the month and the opportunities there are for hospitality and traditions. Each month I plan to open up to the chapter corresponding with the upcoming month. I'll lay out a plan for new traditions I want to try out based on my highlights and notes taken in the book. Follow along on Instagram to see how I use my home for serving both our family + those outside our home!