There’s no place like a cozy home—a breezy window, the dancing flame of a candle, a comfy couch, a soft rug beneath the toes.
My grandmother had a knack for making her home in Greece bright and airy in the summer and warm and inviting in the winter. From her, I learned to appreciate the beauty of a properly arranged china cabinet or a well-positioned sofa. I grew to love the process of rearranging a space, furniture shopping with my dad, and tidying up the house.
Over the past two years, I’ve lived in four different places: a college dorm room, a basement apartment with a couple of friends, a tiny apartment when I first got married, and more recently, a roomier condo. As I’ve gone through the process of making each new space a home, I’ve developed a passion that transcends the creation of pretty interiors.
I have learned that through the arrangement of a space, a person can affect—for good or for bad—the quality of living within that space. Interior design carries with it a responsibility to foster emotional, and even spiritual, wellbeing.
The Philosophy Behind Coziness
In his thoughtful series of essays on “Restoring Home Life, Room By Room,” John Cuddeback, a philosophy professor at Christendom College, explains the importance of bringing warmth back into our homes: “A home is not only where the next generation is initiated into human life. It is also where each of us must find a space congenial to every-day life. A house is where humans live; a home is where they truly come alive.”
My husband and I have enjoyed making our home a place to relax and soothe the senses, propped against fluffy pillows, cradling a cup of tea. But our home is also a gathering place: a place for our friends and family to experience fellowship and hospitality. We gather around the living room, the coffee table covered in snacks, drinks, and games—and sometimes, we all work in the kitchen, preparing a dish of shrimp linguini with white wine, garlic, and lemon. And then we draw a table full of people to share food, drinks, ideas, and laughter. In such moments, we bring warmth—as Cuddeback puts it—into our home.
The Spirituality of a Beautiful Home
The process of putting beauty into the home is meaningful, even spiritual. In her book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Edith Schaeffer articulates the virtue in beautifying one’s home: “If you have been afraid that your love of beautiful flowers and the flickering flame of the candle is somehow less spiritual than living in starkness and ugliness, remember that He who created you to be creative gave you the things with which to make beauty and the sensitivity to appreciate and respond to His creation.”
Schaeffer argues that homemaking should begin early, well before we get that ‘dream house’ and even before we get married. It’s easy, Schaeffer says, to overlook a “temporary situation,” such as a dorm room, rental, or hotel. But these aren’t just brief dwelling places. They serve as our primary setting for memories and human growth.
Each room has the potential to be a sanctuary, a miniature portrait of divine order. And, should you have a troubling or messy day, you will come home to a place that elicits peace—a place that you made—and find a sense of blessedness. In a world that’s becoming increasingly chaotic each and every day, one can still bring order to his tiny corner.
Cultivating Your Own Space
Working with little is a craft. When my husband and I got married as upperclassmen in college, our first apartment was just over 480 square feet. We enjoyed the process of finding good (mostly used) furniture, gathering cozy textiles, and collecting good books. I also discovered that strategic furniture placement made a big difference. If something opened up even a few inches of space, we did it. We’ve learned to operate within the constraints of renting with a modest budget, so we keep things simple and try to utilize the space the best we can.
In ordering our home, we also attend to the five senses. It is through the senses that we get to experience everyday enchantment in the ordinary: think of a hot tea kettle whistling on the stovetop, the crackly sound of an old record, the scent of a woodsy candle. These things not only bring us pleasure, but they impact our emotional experiences.
So while I like to scroll through Pinterest and pin elaborate kitchens and dreamy bedrooms, I also try to find new ways to blend simplicity, utility, and aesthetics in our home. I’m learning that making small changes to everyday spaces can enhance overall wellbeing, and it doesn’t require much money either.
Regardless of one’s place or stage of life, it’s possible to create a cozy space for gathering, praying, thinking, and working. A home ought to fill one’s soul with warmth in all seasons, and not just around the holidays.
So look for areas of improvement, big or small, that bring about a feeling of peace and comfort to your surroundings. That is what a house is for, a place where we can enjoy the good things of life with good people—where we can be reminded through our senses of a more heavenly state.
Image via Unsplash