“The necessity for beauty and harmony is a basic need for a creative soul and a breeding ground for the true, good, and beautiful that I like to nurture in the most intimate space of our home. One is a feeding place for the other. ” (ponderings from my journal).
A year ago, we took over the attic of our house to use as a bedroom. We wanted to give both ourselves and the children some space. It has been a successful plan. But in 20 years of marriage, we have never put wallpaper on a wall, and the attic was in desperate need of it. Once we had finally finished preparing the Workplace in Wageningen (and that project put us quite out of our comfort zone with all the random jobs it required), we thought, shouldn’t we be able to do our bedroom too? I longed for it and thought of this quote: “What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said? asked the boy? “Help,” said the horse.
So I texted my friend Elseline:
“How do I put wallpaper on a wall in our bedroom?”
Her response was:
“If you look after my toddler, I’ll come and do it for you.”
Babysitting toddlers is peanuts to me, and so it happened that one day, Elseline showed up to wallpaper our bedroom. We had everything in the house, and she could start right away. Row after row settled carefully on the wall. I heaved a sigh of relief as I admired the wall, which underwent a metamorphosis in a matter of hours.
What is so important about a quiet bedroom?
The bedroom is the most intimate space in our house. It is the place where our deepest longings are out in the open.
In each house—and definitely in our house—there is sometimes friction when people are living together. That means disagreements, changing needs, character traits, quirks, and lack of sleep.
Surely, you can be satisfied with little: a plain and simple room, mostly bare. I think the term these days is “minimalism”? How much do we really need? And what about others less fortunate than ourselves who don’t even have a house to live in, let alone a room to themselves.
And yet, the point is not a matter of spending money. Homemaking and creating beauty is much more than that. It is artfully, carefully, creatively putting any and all ornaments in the right place to meet the longing we all have for harmony and beauty. My challenge is always using as little as possible to make a home with what we’ve gathered over the years. In our household, we call them “emotional ornaments.” And the result is such joy and peace and deep gladness. It is home.
And so, we have given our bedroom a makeover using just four rolls of wallpaper. The cabinet from Ikea creates a nice contrast with the flower pots of Theo’s parents, who switched to smaller housing recently and gave them away.
Six Emotional Ornaments in Our Bedroom:
The first one is the basket that I got for my 17th birthday. The second is the frame of the wooden bed that we inherited from Jelle’s parents. The third is the ivory cross that Jelle brought me from Egypt when he was at a retreat with Jos in Cairo.
The icon of Jesus was painted by Judith and hangs above the chair where we pray.
The beautiful carpet that I bought at Ikea in 2010 and was so sad to leave behind that I gladly gave it to my friend Nancy, who was been such a great help in the years we lived in Toronto. I bought the same carpet straight away again at Ikea in the Netherlands in 2012, and it is since visible in our home.
The painting of chickens was done in shades of red by my Granddad and given to me on my 8th birthday, which probably gave me the love for both in my early childhood. Grandpa lived off the pension he had built up as a painter at the Van Nelle factory. He started making a lot of these paintings for his more than 50 grandchildren.
Elseline did the most part of putting the wallpaper on the wall, but there were still some challenging angles to test our marriage. While I put a good dollop of wallpaper glue on the brush and Jelle finished the fine work, I thought about some of the things that have helped us face challenges in our marriage.
Before you get your driver’s license, you have to spend hours behind the wheel. After that, you can hit the road. But for a long-term relationship, you can make the journey without too much debris.
Three suggestions for married couples: (and a question)
- Take a Myers Briggs personality test and get to know your own (and your spouses’) needs.
- Do an APK for your marriage and sign up for a marriage course.
- Think about “The element of surprise.” How can you use that in your bedroom? Break the routine, and never take the other for granted.
- What would you describe as a comfortable bedroom environment for you and your spouse?
A message for singles:
Pffft. This is really a blog for people who share their bedroom. Well, you live alone with yourself… I actually do not have a lot of experience with that. But also a few tips for you, you who only share your room with yourself and your thoughts:
- Take care of yourself and be extra nice. “Blessed are the meek” is not only a message for others but also for you and your thoughts.
- A Meyers-Briggs test is always a good idea. It’s kind of a manual for your character. Pretty handy.
- And maybe or maybe not: Treat yourself to a massage or a sauna or something that is just very nice for your body. Body and mind are closely intertwined, or at least should be.
A prayer for you, if you share your room with yourself:
“Oh God, You made me, formed years ago in my mother’s womb.
Here I am. I invite you to my bedroom.
Fill my room with Yourself and may I be aware of Your presence around me.
Make me as You intended me. I lay all my desires, dreams, and thoughts at Your feet.
And thank you for being with me, here in this room. Whether I feel it or not.
Fill every corner of my house with Your presence.
Thank You that You do not sleep or slumber.
In connection with everyone who now watches and prays, I call on You. Be with me.
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
A prayer for the bedroom: (For people who share their room)
Oh God, You made us. Here we are and invite you to our bedroom.
May all the words and deeds that ring and take shape here culminate in Your glory.
Make us as You intended us. You brought us together. Thank you for that.
* May we always influence one another into closer communion with You.
We pray for the fruit of our being together. We return that to You as an offering.
We pray for peace, love, unity, and communion.
Fill every corner of our house with Your presence.
Thank You, Father and Creator, of all good.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son. Amen.
* Prayer from Jim Eliot what he wrote to his future wife Elizabeth.
Judith made this painting as a birthday gift for Jelle last year.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever asked, asked the boy? And the horse replied: Help!
In the most intimate room of the house, there can be a lot of pain, suffering, and despair—whether you are alone or with somebody.
I am not a coach or a counselor or anything. But know that you are not alone. Feel free to send an email. I usually respond within a few days. Janneke@jhnet.nl
P.S. Feel free to share this blog.
What is an “Emotional Ornament” in your home?