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Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces: The Art of Stress-Free Interior Design

Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces: The Art of Stress-Free Interior Design

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by Sharon Hanby-Robie

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Today's fast pace allows little room for time-consuming trips to decorating stores. Or perhaps the lack of funds keeps us from furnishing and redecorating our homes. This is a Bible study to understand how to build and maintain a biblical atmosphere in our homes. Designed to meet the needs of today's woman, BeautifulPlaces, Spiritual Spaces is the


Today's fast pace allows little room for time-consuming trips to decorating stores. Or perhaps the lack of funds keeps us from furnishing and redecorating our homes. This is a Bible study to understand how to build and maintain a biblical atmosphere in our homes. Designed to meet the needs of today's woman, BeautifulPlaces, Spiritual Spaces is the ideal companion for women navigating the uncharted territory of life - offering daily, short, inspirational mediations, and creative decorating how-to's.

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Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces

the art of stress-free interior design

By Sharon Hanby-Robie, Deb Strubel

Northfield Publishing

Copyright © 2004 Sharon Hanby-Robie and Deb Strubel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57567-598-5


Meditations on Firm Foundations ISAIAH 33:6

"He (God) will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure."

Day 1 Thank You, God, for Your promise of a sure foundation even though sometimes I feel shaky.

Day 2 What are the "rich stores" on which my life and my home are built?

Day 3 Thank You for granting me salvation and wisdom and knowledge.

Day 4 How can I properly fear You?

Day 5 Teach me how to anchor my home on Your foundation.

Day 6 Grant my loved ones and me a renewed sense of our treasure in You.

See photo #2

Firm Foundations

A home is an earthly foundation. As children, it is the first environment we know, and from it we learn what to expect from family and outsiders. Our home lives will determine how we look at and approach the rest of the world and the rest of our lives.

In her book Your Life, Nancy Carmichael said: "It is one thing to have a wonderfully decorated and furnished house; but is the house for you, or do you exist for the house? We have real fellowship when we feel safe with one another, when there is earned trust in the relationship. Fellowship is for us, the real people with real needs. There is nothing sweeter than authentic relationships."


All aspects of our lives are touched and affected by the atmosphere of our homes. One of the most important things that we can do is to establish a home that is joyful, comfortable, and encouraging to those who dwell there.

Home life shapes families and societies. Architecturally, a well-designed and well-constructed home is one of the finer accomplishments of humankind. But a home is more than bricks and mortar. It is a place where family members can receive physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "Safe, affordable housing is a basic necessity for every family. Without a decent place to live, people cannot be productive members of society, children cannot learn and families cannot thrive."

Our homes should not only reflect our personal tastes but also express the personalities of all those who live there. Personal mementos and heirlooms passed down through the family can make a house feel like a home.

Most people stop short of finishing their homes. They get the major pieces of furniture and maybe an accessory or two. But that is just the foundation. It is the little things—color, texture, pattern, wallcoverings, area rugs, pillows, a soft throw, plants, artwork, and treasures collected throughout your life—that truly make the difference.


One of the most frequent questions I (Sharon) hear is "Where do I begin?"

Start with something you love. Whether it's a piece of artwork, a rug, a lamp, a chair, or even a piece of wallpaper, it doesn't matter as long as you love it. Then build the space around that treasured item. Learn to collect things. The objects we collect tell stories and hold memories. Finding and living with objects that we love can bring joy.

The secret is to make choices that are right for you and your family. Arrange or rearrange in a way that makes life simpler and easier. If your children hear the words "no" and "don't" every time they enter or use a room, it means your home rules are overruling practical living, and there is something wrong with the choices you have made. As Carole Mayhall says, "Being a keeper of the home is a big task, but it won't be overwhelming if you keep trying to simplify your home as well as your life."

Here are some tips for improving the foundation of your home life:

* Allow your home to be a living home that adapts to meet the changing needs and lifestyles.

* Evaluate your space and needs. Prioritize the tasks that need to be addressed in each room. If you expect children to do homework in the family room, then provide them with a table or desk.

* Don't let the fashion of the moment dictate your spaces, because you will end up sacrificing function and personal taste, which will directly impact your enjoyment of life.

* Make room for fun. Create safe spaces where children can be themselves.

* Be respectful of each family member's privacy and personal possessions.

* Designate a place or room as the "listening space." As a child, my family's spot was the kitchen table. We gathered there to express our feelings, converse with each other, and gain acceptance and recognition.


Meditations on Being a Woman of Influence PROVERBS 14:1

A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down."

Day 1 Lord, show me the foolish things I do that tear down my house and alienate my family.

Day 2 Forgive me for doing things that hurt those I love.

Day 3 What can I do today to "build" my house?

Day 4 Help me to be more self-controlled and patient at home.

Day 5 What attitudes do I need to build into my life so that I may better nurture my family and friends?

Day 6 Teach me Your wisdom.

Being a Woman of Influence

Proverbs 14:1 is one of my favorite verses. I am awed at how much influence women have within their homes. We set the tone and the atmosphere, and that impacts the lives of all who enter. What a responsibility! What an opportunity! As Christians, we have such an advantage—the Lord is the giver of wisdom! By following His example we can be sure that we are building homes that will comfort and nourish both body and soul.

Someone defined comfort as a sense of contentment we find in a place that "feels like home." That definition is interesting because our earthly homes are only temporary. They can only feel like home, since heaven is our eternal home. In the meantime, we can do our best to make our homes places that bring comfort.


Country Living magazine invited readers to share what brought them comfort in their homes. The answers were as unique as the individuals writing. For some, it was baking bread or the sound of the family dog snoring softly at the foot of the bed. Another woman cherished the routine of sharing a cup of coffee with her best friend every day at 5 P.M. Deb loves to lie in bed listening to the sound of small planes taking off and approaching the small airport near her home.

Home isn't just a building. A home is a project in process. It helps to stop occasionally and ask ourselves how we are doing at building our homes. Do we treat our family members with the same respect and civility with which we treat others? Listen to the noises in your home. Are they generally happy sounds? Are your words and tone gentle? Are you fostering an attitude of joy in togetherness? Little things like sharing the weekend chores bring a family together and make a house feel like home.


Another important element of building our homes is our relationship with God. The wise woman depends on God for her daily strength. Of course, eating right, exercising, and getting enough rest all help too. But a woman of godly character is so attractive in spirit that others can't help but be drawn to her presence.

From time to time, Deni and her husband, a high school teacher, invited his students to breakfast and Bible study in their home. "They made me feel very welcomed and loved," said Jon, a former student. "They were real and down-to-earth, and that let me be real and open with them. When I think back on my growing-up years, they stick out as two people who God used to shape and challenge me."

A wise woman does things to nurture herself, her spouse, and her children. In so doing she will nurture others in her wider circle of influence.

We all need a place to call home, a place in this world that we can truly call our sanctuary. As one writer said, home is the place where cares can be traded for dreams and where every moment spent is sweet, strengthening, and good for the soul.

Here are some ideas for making your house a home that your family loves:

* Instead of worrying about decorating, surround yourself with things you love, perhaps a cozy shawl or throw over the arm of your favorite chair.

* Incorporate family heirlooms into each room.

* Improve your health by arranging furniture so you can sit and see out the window. It takes only ten minutes of looking at God's green earth to lower your blood pressure.

* Use fabrics to transform your home into a cohesive comfort zone. Flow a unifying color into every room, and your treasures will easily work together.

* By blending colors, fabrics, and rugs from room to room, you can create the illusion of more space.

* Bake an apple pie or something else that smells and tastes pleasant, and then grab a corner of the couch and read a book to yourself or your children.


Meditations on Designing a Peaceful Place ISAIAH 32:18

"My people will five in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest."

Day 1 What do I envision when I hear the wordpeace?

Day 2 What do my family members envision as a peaceful setting?

Day 3 Thank You, Lord, for calling me one of Your people and for Your promise to provide a peaceful dwelling place.

Day 4 Thank You that my ultimate security rests in You.

Day 5 When I lie down to sleep, quiet my racing thoughts and slow my pounding heart.

Day 6 O Lord, how I long for a place of unending peace. May my home become a haven of peace and undisturbed rest.

Designing a Peaceful Place

When it comes to creating an atmosphere of peace and harmony, we probably don't think of color first. Yet color is all around us. Whether we are aware of its effect on us or not, it plays a vital role in how we live. Color can influence our thinking, feelings, and actions. It can irritate or calm our spirits, raise our blood pressure, and even make us hungry!


Scientists, artists, and musicians have studied color for centuries, searching for a way to explain its influence on man and animals. They have approached the concept of color from physiological, philosophical, and artistic perspectives. Although there are many different theories, there is rarely a consensus.

Why? Color is specific to the individual who sees it. How we react to a color is the result of a combination of our education, our history of exposure to it, our culture, and our eye's physical ability to see it. There are, of course, some examples where most people agree. For example, blue makes most people feel cool. No, not like "Hey, I'm cool!" but temperature cool, like "I feel chilly."

Choosing the right color for your home is probably the hardest decorating decision you have to make. It's also far more important than most of us realize, because color affects us in so many ways, consciously and subconsciously. Children are sensitive to color as well. We can actually make them feel better about themselves and their spaces by the right color choices. (See pages 63–64 under the heading "Use a Signature Print" for more on children and colors.)


Decorate your home with the colors you and your family love. It doesn't matter what the latest trends are or what the fashion gurus think. What does matter is that you love your home and that your choices make sense for you and your family. One man I know is colorblind. For years, his wife graciously allowed him to choose the wall color for his den and a few additional rooms. He said those rooms were the only places that looked good to him, but he and his colorblind friends were the only ones who called them attractive.

The use of color is an easy and inexpensive way to bring a little peace and harmony to your home. Try using calming colors of green, lilac, or blue in the areas where you relax as a family or in your bedrooms. At the end of a day, add some quiet inspirational background music and you will bring a bit of heaven into your atmosphere, which should be good for the soul!

Nature is a major influential force for our color choices. Blue is one of the most dominant colors of the decade, but orange is the hue of choice as a symbol of optimism and happiness. Here are some ways to use color to influence your mood. Your feelings about a particular color may be different based on your background and experience, so don't feel abnormal if you don't fit the norm.

Here are some general tips on color:

* To make a space feel cooler, use cool colors such as blues, violets, or greens.

* To make a space feel warmer, use warm colors such as reds, oranges, or yellows.

* If your family tends to overeat, try painting the kitchen and dining room blue. Cool colors tend to diminish appetites.

* Coral, soft teal, sage, or even a monochromatic tone-on-tone palette can make you feel calm and serene.

* Overall, strive for colors that are fresh and clean.

* An ambiguous hue is a good choice when trying to blend a series of colors. For example, a shade of burgundy could look red or purple. Historical colors fall into the ambiguous range and are popular because they fit with many schemes.


Meditations on Blue and Green People REVELATION 4:2–3,6

At once I was in the Spirit and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled [God's] throne.... Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal."

Day 1 God loves colors, from the clear, diamondlike jasper to the red of carnelian to the green of emerald to the crystal blue of a sea of glass.

Day 2 Thousands of years ago God invented the rainbow as a symbol of His grace and mercy—and He made it in all colors. I pray to appreciate every color, even those I don't normally like.

Day 3 The Hebrew word forrainbowhas the sense of bending, as in a bow and arrow. Next time I see a rainbow, let me think of it as God bending His mercy around the earth.

Day 4 Do I need to bend my will for someone in my family to show them I love them?

Day 5 How can I be more inclusive, more loving toward those who have differing opinions?

Day 6

Is God a green or a blue person? Perhaps He's both. Praise God. He filled the earth with colors for everyone.

Blue and Green People

The world is divided into two groups of people: blue and green. I have found that these two colors evoke the strongest emotional response in everyone. In fact, about 33 percent of the population loves green. I call these the green people. The others love blue. You guessed it; these are the blue people.

Most men are blue people. Scientists have discovered that men's brains operate differently with regard to color. Men see fewer colors than women do. Of course, with all theories, there are exceptions to the rule. If a man turns out to be a green person, he is always involved in a creative field.

My blue/green theory does not exclude other colors. You may not even use blue or green in your decorating scheme. My theory is just an easy way to determine the basis of your choices. It's also one explanation why you and your spouse or family members may have trouble agreeing on a home color scheme.


Over the years I have discovered that most people can tell me what they don't like, but not what they do like. As a result I have developed a little test—Sharon's Creative Color Test—that will help you determine the right colors, patterns, and styles, and the level of formality that is right for you. Think of it like a psychologist's inkblot test.

Rather than using ink splotches, I use fabric swatches. You could use wallpaper books, paint chips, or flooring samples. The point of the test is to go through lots of swatches and respond from your heart. Don't analyze or think about where you might use a particular fabric; simply choose those patterns, textures, or colors that make you smile. Once you have established a "yes" pile of samples, go back and evaluate them.


What are the three main colors you chose? Are they bold and dramatic or simply tone-on-tone monochromatic color choices? These choices indicate the colors that are right for you. Green people also tend to like brighter, more adventurous tones such as purple, red, teal, and hot pink. Blue people usually tend to be happier with peach, mauve, gray, beige, or brown tones.

If you are a blue person, then the shades of green that appeal to you will have blue undertones. It is possible for blue and green people to like the same patterns, but in different color combinations. For the most part, blue people prefer calmer, less radical patterns. Green people often like things with more zing! An example of a "true blue" color combination is yellow, blue, orange and white, as in Portuguese china. A "true green" color combo is green, red, cream, and white.

Recently while working with a couple, the woman chose a beautiful red-toned pattern for chairs. Her husband chose a beige ground pattern that nearly blended into the carpet. He said he felt overwhelmed with the red. To keep both of them happy, we compromised with a deep blue stripe that incorporated a rich woven tapestry of orange, gold, red, and green that was placed between the stripes. They loved it!


Excerpted from Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces by Sharon Hanby-Robie, Deb Strubel. Copyright © 2004 Sharon Hanby-Robie and Deb Strubel. Excerpted by permission of Northfield Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

SHARON HANBY-ROBIE has been an interior designer and member of the American Society of Interior Designers for more than twenty years. She is author of numerous books including Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces: The Art of Stress-Free Interior Design, A Simple Wedding, A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide to a Meaningful And Stress-free Christmas, The Simple Home: A Faith-filled Guide to Simplicity, Peace And Joy in Your Home, as well as the My Name Isn¿t Martha series. Sharon appears frequently on TV, including QVC Shopping Network, HGTV¿s Smart Solutions, and the Discovery Channel¿s Home Matters and Interior Motives. Sharon and her husband live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

DEB STRUBEL is a research associate for the Institute of American Values. She developed and edited Bible Seeds: A Simple Study-Devotional for Growing in God¿s Word, and has edited numerous Bible commentaries in the God¿s Word for the Biblically-Inept series. Deb is the co-author of Single, Whole and Holy: Christian Women and Sexuality and Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces: The Art of Stress-Free Interior Design. She her husband, Ken, and their two children reside in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces: The Art of Stress-Free Interior Design 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Other than the lack of pictures I really enjoyed this book. I love how the focus is on building a loving home dedicated to God while creating beautiful interiors. This is one book I will come back to read many times.
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