I have tended to acquire too many things that seem lovely to me, but when put together, create a crowded and unlovely atmosphere. One great quality of loveliness is knowing how to edit -- to choose what really is pleasing to your family and to you. A truly lovely environment is artfully neat. We want to find that balance that's somewhere between being too minimalist and stark (creating a cold feeling) and too cluttered (creating a smothering feeling). Those with a good eye for arranging things can introduce more knick-knacks and sentimental items into their decorating. Others of us have a harder time arranging things and keeping things in a way that pleases the eye. We can always ask a friend with a good eye to help us.
The lovely home has some feminine touches. Again, we need to think about balance. If we live with a husband and sons, we don't want our home to be so girly that it overwhelms the men in our lives. Just as we women enjoy soothing, feminine spaces, men need some more masculine looking areas in which to relax. Yet, the most charming home keepers know how to add soft, feminine touches throughout the house that are soothing to both men and women.
Some things that make for a lovely home:
1) A lovely attitude on the part of the home keeper
2) A home that is airy, freshly clean, and well-lit
3) A home in which there is some symmetry of design and decorating. That symmetry can be obtained through exact symmetry (matching) or through balancing items of similar size and "visual" weight. For example, you could create a mantel with matching urns on either side of a large mirror. Or, you could have a grouping of candlesticks on one side of the mantel that is balanced by pottery on the other side.
4) A home in which there is some unity of color scheme
5) A home in which the many wires of modern life are not distracting to the look of your home. Try to achieve a look in which the wires are hidden, covered, or otherwise not obvious.
6) A home in which the home keeper gives periodic thought to how her home looks. We become used to the way our house looks -- even to things that are actually mildly irritating -- and we let things stay as they are. The skillful home keeper evaluates her house with fresh eyes from time to time and tweaks things in order to improve.
7) A home that contains a few sentimental items, as well as inspirational items. Photographs of loved ones are one way to add to the warmth and loveliness of the home. Note that in traditional decorating, photographs are not used in the more public living spaces. They are reserved for a den or for a bedroom. You don't have to follow this rule of traditional decorating. But, it's always good to know the rules before you break them.
Today's assignment -- peruse a home decorating magazine or a site such as Better House and Gardens. Study what appeals to you and why. Note how items are arranged. Note the lines of furniture. Study how colors are utilized. Take quizzes at sites like Better Homes and Gardens so that you can find your decorating style. The goal is to develop your eye so that
a) You can arrange the things you already have in a lovely way
b) You will develop an instinct for what items are good bargains at store sales, garage sales, or in thrift shops.
We may not all have a natural talent for arranging our homes in a lovely way, but we can all improve.
(Note: the photo above is an example of modern cottage decorating from Better Homes and Gardens web site.)
Happy Home Keeping!