Transform your home into a tranquil domestic temple: A room by room guide (PHOTOS)

From kitchen to bedroom, ideas to soulfully enrich your home decor.

Trinette Reed | Stocksy United

We all want our homes to be warm, welcoming places that foster peace and love, family and friends. But most of our houses can feel like a big jumble of busy life: piles of mail, disorganized entryways, function-first kitchens, and tired living spaces. It happens because we live life so quickly, but if you can find the time to slow down, and reorganize—even with just a few minor decor tweaks to each room—you can make your home feel more like a sacred harbor than just a place to corral the trappings of your family life. And creating soul-enriching surroundings is easier than you might think.

Let this list of cozy, whimsical, and reflective touches inspire you. You might even discover that many aspects of your home already reflect the joy and comfort of a domestic church.

Front door, outside

“Knock and the door shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7)

Let your front door be a symbol and not just an entrance and exit. A door is a threshhold, and in the church it symbolizes not only welcome, but refuge and transformation: that you are never the same going out as coming in. Remind family and guests that they are entering a place set apart. Little signs like a beautiful wreath, a door knocker or bell, a welcome mat or sign, or an angel or whimsical statue on the front porch: all serve the purpose.

Entryway

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Inside your front door, why not hang a holy water font and cultivate the habit of blessing yourself as you enter or exit. Guests will see the opportunity and might avail themselves of it also. Any time of year, old-fashioned sleigh bells hanging from a ribbon or leather strap create a joyful cacophany when the door opens, making expected and unexpected guests alike feel celebrated. Added bonus: you’ll know when the kids are home. For a protective sacramental touch, hang a blessed St. Benedict medal from your door knob or near your door.

Kitchen

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

In the kitchen there are many sacramental symbols already waiting, such as a table. Whether it’s a breakfast nook or a center island, your home table is a gathering place where bread is broken and shared. Consider that what is in your kitchen—from an inspirational quote, to fresh herbs growing in a window’s light—whets the appetite for shared meals and conversation. A framed kitchen prayer or invocation of a saint (such as Martha, known for her antics in the kitchen) or meaningful poem can give the whole room a sense of well-being. Another powerful symbol is your favorite tea or coffee pot, which reminds of relaxation, peace and a ritual of sharing.

Make use of your refrigerator or kitchen blackboard or corkboard: Something to celebrate your children or remind of loved ones and interests/passions. Whether it is a calendar of beautiful photographs or paintings, a montage of postcards or seasonal greetings, reminders of past events or occasions to come, whether children’s drawings on the wall or black and white photos of your grandparents, a corkboard of sleek photos or joyously jumbled refrigerator door is like a tangible Pinterest board or hanging scrapbook that reminds who you are without words.

Dining room

“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:46-47)

Whether you sit in your dining room every night or only a few times a year at the most special of occasions such as Thanksgiving, you have a story that you can re-tell through the décor of your dining room. Perhaps it is an heirloom tablecloth or candlesticks your mother gave you, the “good china” used for company or shared every day in celebration, or a platter used only on Christmas Eve. Whatever it is, it helps tell your family story and reminds us of the past even as it helps to make new memories. “In the beginning was the Word,” Genesis reminds, and our oral tradition is kept alive when gathered in the dining room. People are broken and shared like bread as they give of themselves through their stories, laughter and tears, enriching all gathered. This Eucharistic image reminds of the sacrifice at the altar at Mass reflected in the gathering table of our homes. Perhaps some religious art on the wall, depicting, for example, The Last Supper or The Wedding at Cana might be a beautiful reminder.

Living room

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Be bold! Don’t relegate all religious symbols to the bedrooms. People who enter your home should know what you believe. Beautiful art, especially religious art of your choosing, can do wonders for your daily morale, and what better place to display it than the most prominent room in the house. Religious art isn’t just for church. Maybe it’s a Renaissance master portrayal of the Blessed Mother above your sofa, perhaps an oil painting of a Biblical event by your favorite arm chair, or a statue of a cherished saint on your piano, shelf or even in a nook amidst your plants.

Hearth

“For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”

Like the Paschal candle at the Easter Vigil, the light of Christ enlivens your home. Whether it is in your hearth, fireplace, wood-burning stove, or at the candles you light on your table, the presence of elemental light, ablaze in all its power, is a powerful reminder of God.

Family room

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Here is a good place to be reminded of the communion of saints of which you are a part, and that includes beloved family members who have come before us and those little ones who come after us. The family room is a wonderful place for photographs, family albums, an image of a tree of life or family tree and inspirational quotes. Throw pillows and blankets bring comfort and ready warmth.

Bedroom

“For he grants sleep to those he loves,” (Psalm 127)

Consider having a blessed crucifix in the bedroom and a rosary near your bed. Along with your wedding photos, why not a work of religious art showcasing spousal love? My favorite is Joachim and Anna’s Meeting at the Golden Gate by Giotto, “Joachim and Anna.”

If you are single, perhaps an image of your namesake saint. Mine would be Saint Anne or the Blessed Mother for my middle name (Marie.) If you don’t have a saint’s name, use the saint of your church or your patron or favorite saint.

A classic for the bedroom that reminds of warmth and cozyness and just feels like home is a great bedroom quilt. Every bedroom should have one!

Bathroom

“If you knew the gift of God … you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10)

Water is healing and integral to the sacrament of baptism. Remind yourself of this gift by lovingly decorating the place where you are daily cleansed and refreshed. Consider hand towels with scripture passages on them or a framed inspirational quote. Candles at the ready to light a dreamy bath, soft linens adorned with your family monogram or your initials waiting to dry you, fun and fragrant bath soaps or even a simple but adorable rubber ducky can bring a smile to your face and a gentle exhale that the stress of the day can be splashed away.

St. Augustine called God “beauty so ancient and so new.” Our humble homes can reflect this as surely as a great cathedral can mark the Liturgical Calendar through brightly colored vestments and church decor. A child’s finger painting on the refrigerator or a framed quote by Shakespeare hanging on the wall can be as uplifting to the spirit as a beautiful stained glass window bathed in sunlight. So look around your house and see what you have already that speaks of your faith and your family’s seasons and have fun dreaming of what you might like to add, from the sublime to the beautifully simple. Remind yourself and all who enter that your house is founded on the rock.

“The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock” (Matthew 7:25).

Annabelle Moseley
Annabelle Moseley
Annabelle Moseley is an author of nine books, speaker, and professor of literature and religion. Her most recent book is a double volume of poetry written in the voices of notable and notorious Biblical characters, entitled: A Ship to Hold the World and The Marionette’s Ascent (Wiseblood Books, 2014). Moseley was The Walt Whitman Birthplace Writer-in-Residence (2009-2010); and in 2014, she was named Long Island Poet of the Year. She lives on Long Island with her husband and children.

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