Thursday, April 12, 2007

Home questions to ask yourself and your family....

If you were to hire a professional decorator, he or she would probably start by asking you a lot of questions about your style preferences, how you would want to use a particular room, etc.

You can do the same thing -- perhaps even better -- by describing your dream house and getting each member of your family to describe his or her dream house.

Here's a sample questionnaire, taken from the book, "The Complete Book of Home Management". Note: You might not be able to get a man or a boy to have much enthusiasm for answering a written questionnaire or for being bombarded with decorating questions. But, if you ask a little bit at a time, you'll get a picture of what makes the men in your family feel "at home".

It's important to furnish your house with the tastes of all family members in mind. A house can and should reflect the different personalities that live there. If you do some careful planning, you can find a way to pull even very diverse styles together to make a cozy and attractive home.

My husband often mentions that if we could build our dream house right now, he'd like to do a modern log house. He does not like things that are too fussy or too formal. He likes strong, sleek lines, and he values function over form. I love log homes, too. But, at heart, I'm into French, English, and traditional American houses with a more formal slant. I like curvy, delicate lines. I value form over function. So, my challenge is to find a way to blend our two different outlooks. Otherwise, I might create a haven that would be comfortable to me, but would not be comfortable at all for my husband. (Right now, we're decorated in "What we can afford" style LOL-- which suits us both just fine).

Here's the questionnaire to think through:

The person's name
The person's personality type -- What are their likes and dislikes. What hobbies do they enjoy. Are they outgoing or more of a homebody? What types of things do they like to read? What makes them feel at home?
Style of Home -- Do they like colonial houses? Farm houses? Log Homes? Ultra-modern dwellings? Cape Cod? Georgian? A city loft? A country cottage? Young children may not know what style of house they like, but they might be able to pick out a house they would enjoy from the pages of a book or magazine.
The Person's Favorite Things -- What are the person's favorite colors, textures, fabrics, furniture woods, window treatments, floor materials, accessories, etc.
What are their favorite fruit, flowers, and vegetables.
fabrics and designs?
windows and walls

Here's an example of how the author filled out her questionnaire. Keep in mind that this book was written in the late 70's, and some of her answers reflect what was popular then. I've abbreviated her answers, for the sake of keeping things short and simple:

Name: Kathie Liden
Personalty type: Bright spring. I like adventure, variety, and change. I dislike being stuck with something forever unless it is my personal favorite accessory. I like to create whimsical pictures made from patchwork fabrics, do oil paintings on wood, tin, or canvas. I like to make my own curtains, patchwork quilts and have inspirational quotes and poems displayed around me. I want a cheerful atmosphere that says, "Welcome home, family," and to friends, "Relax, enjoy yourselves, pull up a chair and stay awhile." Above all, I want my house insulated with Christ and joy.
Style of Home: Colonial, country-house feeling. Informal and lots of windows. I want it to have a feeling of happy, fun-loving Christians living within. I want it to have a light, sunny, fresh look.
My favorite things:
Fruit, flowers, vegetables: daisies, daffodils in wicker baskets. bright red geraniums in clay pots, apples in wooden bowls, strawberries painted on wood or appliqued on fabric -- cute, not serious
fabrics and designs: crisp white, Wedgewood blue cottons, windowpane plaids, checks and calico prints, small flower prints, polka dots, eyelet, applique, cross-stitch, quilting
furniture: light pine furniture -- old pie safes, harvest tables, roll top desk, wicker, antiques, painted furniture, trunks with calico linings, turned legs and posts, spindles, brass beds, dust ruffles and pillow shams on beds
windows and walls: tieback curtains, painted and natural shutters, scalloped shades, stained glass, stenciled walls, white walls and paneling, wallpaper, plate rails
brick, pinewood, braided rugs, candy-stripe carpet
accessories: handmade quilts, baskets, ruffled patchwork or applique pillows, ferns and ivy
Colors: pastels, red, white, blue, yellow, and green.

The author's husband had some similar tastes, but he liked darker and heavier pine furniture and leather furniture.

Don't forget to let children help you make decisions about decorating their rooms. Of course, you need to offer some guidance, particularly for younger children. But, if you involve your children in decorating their own space, this can provide an opportunity for them to learn many things. If you have children who share a room, that's a perfect scenariro for them to learn how to work together to create a space that makes both feel "at home".

One common issue that arises when children are allowed to decorate a room occurs between a mother and daughter. Generally, when a daughter is small, she shares a mom's love of pink and ruffles and sweet looking rooms. Often, as a girl passes through her preteen and teen years, she may outgrow this look -- at least for a time. She may want to leave things behind her that she associates with babyhood. She may want to move on to bolder colors and more modern looking spaces. Such spaces may still be quite feminine, but they may not coincide with mom's vision of a room fit for her princess. Yet, developing her own style is part of a daughter's journy towards keeping a home of her own one day. It's not likely that she will continue to keep the same style she develops as a teen forever. But, it is an important step in her growth.

Every stereotype has its exceptions, but the woman of the house seems to identify with her home in an extra way. She may be more vested in expressing their personality in their home than other members of the family are. Others may not understand why this is so important to her. A husband, for example, may not understand why she wants to set aside a certain portion of the budget to make the house more homey and comfortable. She, on the other hand, may fall into one of two traps: 1) She may become too materialistic and fussy about how she wants the house. This can lead to discontentment on her part, as well as to a strain on the family budget if she insists on a vision of home that the family can't currently afford and 2) She may force her idea of home on everyone else. This is where some communication between spouses and some communication as a family can help.

The point is to use questions like the ones we've listed as a springboard for discussion. Make up your own questions to suit your situation.

Of course, asking these questions and discussing and finding styles for the home that suit the whole family is secondary to forming wholesome attitudes about family life. Part of our home decorating discussions should center around questions such as the following:

1) Why is it important to pick a home decorating budget and stick to it? Why is it important to learn how to be content within the means God has given us? How do we live contently and with holiness in a materialistic society?
2) Why is the way we treat each other in the home more important than the color of the walls?
3) What takes higher priority? To love God, help the poor and the lost, and to be hospitable? Or, to create a perfect looking haven just for our family?
4) How can we be good stewards of the home space we have now? What can we do as a family to keep our home neat and clean?



Elizabeth said...

Hi Elizabeth,
This is too cool. Another Elizabeth married to Dave. My dave is an eng. too. Wow what esle do we have in common?
I am so glad to meet you.

Elizabeth said...

We do have a lot in common!

Anonymous said...

Wow Elizabeth those last questions were certainly food for thought! How can we serve God more with our home? is a question I must ask myself.

Anonymous said...

Your in Nashville? Wow, I'm only about 80 miles south of that ~ and my husband is a computer engineer as well! I wonder if they know each other? My hubby works through independent contracts in strange is that? Glad you liked the idea of my Hillbilly donuts!

Revee said...

Good post, Elizabeth. I like the questions because it helps give insight to the people who will be living with the decorating.

I definitely agree with the part about letting the children have a say in the decorating of their room and also want to add that it's important to try to incorporate their ideas even if they aren't ours. My DDs have a turqoise colored room and old-fashioned quilts on their beds. Not what I would have done but they really love it.

Thanks for dropping by my blog; you have a really nice one here, too!

Elizabeth said...

Hi Sarah,

Yes, that is the heart of it -- How can I use my home to serve God. I wish I had put it just that way in my questions!

Hey there, Anonymous (Headed for the Hills)

It's a small blog-o-sphere! Are you down near Alabama or near Ga?
Maybe, our husbands do know each other.

Hi Revee,

Glad you liked the questions. Your daughters room sounds lovely.

Courtney said...

Love this post, Elizabeth! It will be very handy as we decorate our new home. :)