10 ways to gracious living

Creating a home is an ongoing process and it needn’t involve spending lots of money. Emilie Barnes says the secret is to be creative with what you have and cultivate a spirit of thankfulness

Change with the seasons

Transform your home into a seasonal masterpiece.  In the winter, adorn your home with snow globes, pine cones sprayed white, springs of holly and red ribbons tied to doorknobs throughout.  Spring is a great time to awaken the senses with touches of colour from fresh flowers, a fresh coat of paint or fresh fruit in a bowl as a centrepiece. Bring the gentle breezers of summer to your style with light and whimsical curtains, and large jugs of lemonade and iced tea . . . And use cushions and throws to make your home cosy for autumn.

Transform something

Some of the best decorating ideas are those that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Take the wonderful drawings your children make off the fridge and put them into frames. You’ll be the envy of your friends – to say nothing about the smiles on the faces of those little ones of yours.  Or get creative with fallen leaves in an autumn frame. Use your imagination and transform something today.

Add a touch of hope

Take a cup of tea and wander through the room where you spend a lot of time.  Whether it is an office, a family room or your kitchen, examin the colours and the arrangement of the furniture.  What is there about the room that makes you feel energised, ready to love forward? Is it pictures of your family? A memento from a special trip? Light coming through the window? Candles or flowers on the table? Simple as it sounds – all of these things can build a more hopeful atmosphere.  When you are encouraged by the hope that comes from trusting God, your home will show it.

Bring new life

I love to repurpose items in my home. A teacup becomes a lovely little flower container.  An old hat transforms into a wall decoration .  A bright red vase becomes the prefect accent piece on the mantel. My friend had a gorgeous red scarf.  It was given to her by a special woman in her life, so she framed it with a sparkly necklace that belonged to her mother. Keep your eyes open.  Take something you already have and give it a new life.  A new purpose. You’ll feel revitalised – and your surroundings will take on a new dimension.

Build around love

I received some great advice from an interior decorator that I will pass onto you.  Put one thing that you just love in every room, and then build everything else around it.  It could be something as simple as a favourite framed photo or a colourful throw – or more elaborate like a piano or heirloom grandfather clock.  Whatever it is, it probably tells a story of who you are and what you love. We don’t want to become overly absorbed in things – but there is something peaceful about being surrounded by reminders of what we love and appreciate.  It gives us a simple setting for thanking God, for praying for those we love, and for remembering those who’ve loved us.

Bring the outdoors in

One of the simplest ways to create a new look is to bring the outdoors in. Anything that holds water can be used for a bouquet or flower arrangement – old drinking glasses, teapots, vintage bottles . . . A simple arrangement is always the best! Two long stemmed flowers in a bud vase can be elegant.  So can a single blossom floating in a bowl. God has given us incredible beauty to enjoy and each time you arrange a display or walk passed a fragrant gathering of flowers, it will be a wonderful reminder to praise and worship the creator who made it all possible.

Fill a space

If you’ve stared blankly at your blank walls more than once, then you know how baffling it can be to fill large spaces or those odd sized sections that often surround doors, windows, or arches.  Paintings, prints and photographs make lovely fillers, and they needn’t be expensive.  Look for items that express a bit of who you are. I know a sports fan who decorated his office walls with sports magazine covers in acrylic box frames. Consider placing framed calendar prints that remind you of places you have been or even places you hope to visit! Have fun and make your home more interesting and inviting

Kitchen aid

Whether we fancy ourselves as cooks or not, we spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so we might as well make it a great place to be. First of all, streamline the kitchen and eliminate all the outdated stuff you don’t like or use.  Simple changes like a fresh coat of paint, new handles on the cupboards or a rearrangement of your counter items can surprisingly give the space a face-lift. Here’s a bonus idea: get a picture taken of your family making a meal together or eating together, frame it and place it in a prominent kitchen spot. This image will make even washing dishes more enjoyable!

Use your leftovers

I’m talking household leftovers! Use wallpaper pieces for gift wrap and for covering boxes. Leftover paint is great for shelves, baskets and touch-ups. Cards can be used as artwork for your frames.  If you’re like me, you hate to waste anything. Even beads from an old necklace make great decorating touches for a lampshade or the edge of a picture frame.  So, check out your leftovers and put them to good use. You’ll be surprised at how simple it can be.

Use your scents

Try spraying a little perfume on your light bulbs.  It creates a wonderful scent when the lights are turned on.  Or put one of those fabric softener sheets in with the towels or lines.  I also love using candles and find they last longer if I put them in the freezer at least three hours before burning them.

* These ideas are a selection from The Quick-Fix Home Organizer by Emilie Barnes.  To be published by Harvest House Publishers  ( later this year.