Undecorating Your Home for Lent
Around this time of the year I get asked how I am decorating for Lent and I always say that I am undecorating! Undecorated not only means that you take things down but that you will use things that are simple, plain, and unadorned. For context my house is always decorated, I love creating an environment that is beautiful, welcoming, cozy, and Catholic. I received an eye for these kinds of things from a friend's mom who was a professional interior decorator and landscaper, and a kind of second mother to me. I was at their house all the time for years and I am still very thankful that she taught me how to decorate, properly paint, choose color schemes, landscape, you name it. I've since used these skills in my own domestic church and very casually helping friends, and that's what brings me here to you!
Beauty in Your Domestic Church
For me, the underlying reason for putting effort into home interiors is because I firmly believe that in a world that serves out a lot of ideas on "beauty", I want my domestic church to be a place that exemplifies true beauty. True beauty being that which elevates our hearts to God and teaches us about His goodness in our lives and in the world. As we know, beauty is experienced through our senses but in turn engages our ability to reason. In other words, when we experience something lovely we can then contemplate where that loveliness comes from, what it reflects or speaks of. With a developed understanding we of course know that reflection is of God and we can then in turn contemplate God's beauty and loveliness.
Look to the Church
Just think about how churches are adorned with elements that lift up the heart. You see the stained glass, intricate wood work, bold columns, artistic statues, smell the perfume of incense, or hear the delightful chiming of bells. We can take these principles and in imitation, apply them to our own homes. Even more specifically I do this during various liturgical seasons and with a relatively small budget. Please don't think that you can't do it because you can't afford it, I am living proof that whatever amount you are working with, it can be done. Lent is most certainly the easiest place to start because the liturgical season is somber, prayerful, penitential. The decorations in the Church should be incredibly minimal, the color changes to purple, there should not be any use of flowers, and anything put out should be there only to enhance the liturgical focus. Lean into this and apply it to your home!
Practical Tips for an Undecorated Home
First let me say that undecorating doesn't mean that I take everything down, if I did that there would be no place for us to park our car in the garage!
I simplify, reminding myself of what the Church does, and I take down these things:
St. Valentine's Day decor
All flowers and greenery (real and faux) because I typically have fresh flowers in the house.
Anything extra that may be creating pizzazz or even clutter/disorganization
Now you can add things in that speak of the liturgical season: simple, minimal, plain!
For Lent, I usually do a table runner instead of a full cloth because it gives a much more simple feel. I love the look of this cheesecloth table runner, I think the gauzy texture goes well with the season and is relatively inexpensive. Here is the link to one that is only $6.59 right now, it is long but you can get creative and add large, loose knots on either end to lift it up. You could also let it drag the ground (if you don't have small children), that is a very popular French farmhouse look right now. www.tableclothsfactory.com
2. Put out these "Fast, Pray, Give" jars! This is a very common practice in many Catholic households but I particularly like the look of these from "Love and Messiness." Great for inspiring action and giving your house a Lenten decoration. You can easily print the labels at home and buy the jars on Amazon or Hobby Lobby for under $20.00. If you don't have a budget for jars see what you have around your house. Any glass container will work and as you can see below, they don't have to match to look good! For every sacrifice you make you can put a bean in the "Fast" jar. Light the "Pray" candle every day at a time that works for you and your family. You can also put all spare change and cash in the "Give" jar and donate at the end of Lent.
3. Lenten candles can be placed at the center of your dinner table on top of your new purple table runner. These function in the same manner as the Advent candles. Each Sunday you light a candle as you count the weeks to Easter. All of your candles are to be purple except for one pink candle and one red candle. The pink will be lit on Laetare Sunday and the red on Good Friday! This is a great activity that you can do with kids or you can make it a more elegant type of decoration. You can see a couple of options below!
Lenten Candle Decor
Kid Friendly Version
(Photo: The Littles and Me)