You can recognize a gifted decorator by how lovingly and artfully they arrange the everyday objects in their environment. Such is the case with my friend Darlene. She has graciously allowed me to photograph her home in order to share with you here at Proverbs 31 Collective. I hope that you are inspired by her ministry of making her surroundings beautiful and peaceful, and that you are reminded of the fact that the simplest of acts can done with great love.
I first met Darlene at our church’s Bible study. While leading a group together, we realized how much we had in common. We share our faith, a love of making our homes and our surroundings beautiful, and have similar tastes in decorating. Darlene has the rare gift of being able to make anything beautiful. Give her a pile of junk, and she will somehow transform it into a charming vignette. Leave her alone with a boring centerpiece, and she will turn it into something lovely. Hand her an unmatched collection of patterns and fabrics that you like, and she will somehow give you the perfect color palette for your home. I recently had her over for a cup of coffee. I left the room for a moment, and when I returned, much to my delight, I found her rearranging my china cupboard. She turned when I came in and apologized, saying, “I can’t help myself…I have to tweek.” And when she was done, it looked so much better! She had artfully arranged my tea cups in a way that I hadn’t even thought of, and had used a small collection of random objects I had lying around, to create a darling display.
Her gift for decorating was honed early in childhood. She was born in the city of Whittier, California and lived in a poor neighborhood of eclectic houses. One friend lived in an abandoned street car and another in a large tent with wooden boards used for a floor. Her own home was a tiny house that had originally been a chicken coop. Darlene’s parents cleaned it out, added some walls and a floor, and two more small rooms. Her mother was very creative, and always made the effort to make their humble house into a comfortable home with whatever was available. Throughout her childhood, Darlene was aware of the effect surroundings can have on you, and artfully decorated her own space with different items, rearranging them often.
She didn’t recognize her gift for decorating however, until she was an adult and her friends began to ask her to help them with their own homes. Decorating came so easy for her, that she actually thought that everyone could do it. When she first started out, there were two friends that gave her encouragement constantly. They even wanted to compensate her for her work, which was a complete shock to her. She says that because she didn’t have a degree in Interior Design, she felt her work was not valid.
If you know you have a talent in decorating, Darlene encourages you to, “Go for it. Start small and don’t be afraid to try new things. Paint is easy and won’t leave you with permanent results. Table arrangements are fun to work with, change them around until they are pleasing to your eye. Your personal style will emerge quickly when you look around and see what you are drawn to and what you never get tired of. “But don’t feel too badly if you do not have her gift. She says that anyone can make their surroundings more comfortable and visually appealing by following a few simple guidelines:
“Color is a good way to express yourself and an inexpensive way to bring a room together. Electric blue costs the same as beige. To incorporate a color into your room, use it at least three times, and in a triangle pattern, which will bring balance to the room. Try using your favorite color in pillows, throws, a collection of colored glass, or even books. By doing this, when walking into a room, your eye will go from each of those similarly colored objects and tie the room together visually. Don’t be afraid of color, make it work for you. Try doing a tablescape of framed photos. It will be of more interest if you paint all the frames the same color such as black, or even your accent color.”
Painted furniture is all the rage right now, but it has been a favorite of Darlene’s for years. If you have a little table, or a small wooden chair, she suggests you buy a can of spray paint and give it some color. If you don’t like the result, you can always paint over it.
Every room in her house has different woods, different styles, and a mix of old and new, but the one thing they have in common, is a touch of the same color. With the open floor plan of her house, the common thread of color in each room is red. The color flows through the entire house. Not everything is red, but there is enough in each space to keep your eye connected to the overall design. To Darlene, matching is boring.
“Color is your friend. It will set the mood for your home, and remember, it costs the same as something without color. Make it work for you and above all, have fun with it! Decorating is not about perfection, it is a gift you give to yourself and to the other people you live with.”
Darlene’s favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5 and 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” She says this scripture has been like food to her for many years. “God is so faithful to His word. He has restored my soul and my cup has run over with His love.”
Her favorite quote is: “Ring the bells that can still ring. Forget your perfect offering; everything has a crack in it, that’s how the light gets in.” “None of us is perfect,” she says, but if I am still breathing, there is a bell to be rung.” I find great encouragement in these words, thank you my Dear Darlene, for sharing your home, your wisdom, and your great talent with us!