9 Home Renovation Spiritual Lessons Learned are reflections drawn from our work on house projects over the years. This wisdom can surely be learned across plenty of other disciplines beyond DIY home improvement. But remodeling and designing have been exceptional teachers for us and occupied a chunk of our time.
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9 Home Renovation Spiritual Lessons Learned
But first THIS blessing you must hear to the end:
1. Soul is an Indispensable Design Element
What does spirit have to do with home improvement? For me, the creative endeavor, investment of time and tears, and commitment to redesign or renovation are rooted in the soul.
A desire to live with beauty springs from a place of creativity, longing, and passion below the surface. I know this isn’t the sole motivation of every person with an interest in renovation since it is a profitable business.
But the fact that creating beauty is profitable speaks to how many others value such beauty!
Home improvement and interior design for me become soulful matters inasmuch as the goal is to create atmospheres to nurture, reinforce, and enhance daily living and learning.
Interiors can reflect interior states to which we aspire, and the objects we choose to live amongst can bring depth, history, and food for the soul.
When design is customized for its inhabitants, it is harmonious with unique daily rhythms, physical needs, and emotional well being. Personal spaces at home should provide the backdrop for what we require to feel more secure, hopeful, energized, and healthy.
Ultimately, home should reflect our deepest held values as well as the character and beauty we aim to project.
2. Things Get Worse Before They Improve
Gutted bathrooms and making do without a kitchen for months? These typical whole house renovation challenges quickly dispel romance about the DIY journey which is rarely smooth or easy. It’s just impossible to foresee all of the unexpected surprises, challenges, and obstacles that pop up along the way.
For example, you believe you are simply upgrading a floor until you realize the sub-floor is not level which uncovers a separate issue requiring a structural engineer or architect! Like the spiritual journey toward truth, things often become miserable before they get better.
3. Trust the Process
Because of the uncertainty and hard work involved in home renovation, the process demands a measure of trust between parties involved in the work. For our whole house DIY renovation, there were hundreds of decisions to be made as a couple. Without a flow of trust between us, we could not keep the progress steadily going.
Patience is another virtue that enters into the equation daily. There were so many invisible tasks to perform (behind the walls, hidden electrical, plumbing, subfloors, insulation…) before introducing aesthetics! Additionally, the order of renovation projects is a part of DIY reality that demands patience.
Take a kitchen renovation for example. When an issue arises slowing down kitchen cabinet installation, this impacts the countertop install date which in turn likely delays the tile backsplash job. The degree to which you are able to practice patience, maintain an eye on the prize, and roll with resiliency and trust matters.
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4. Be Resilient…You’ll Get Good at It!
Our kitchen here at the fixer upper required total gutting, and the renovation process came with its share of disappointments. For example, we discovered we would not be able to eliminate the wall adjacent to the dining room to expand the kitchen’s square footage and create a more spacious hub for family to gather.
While we were left with a smaller kitchen, we gained the gift of cozy intimacy. If you live with a small kitchen, then you get it. Rubbing shoulders with people you love and hearing whispers? Not the worst compromise one must make.
5. Let Yourself Be Open & Surprised
When we inherited this fixer upper, one of its features I did not admire were the fan windows. I wrote about them when I was chronicling our adventures weekly, and a blog reader who admired them sweetly suggested they were ‘churchy or chapel-like.’
While it may strike you as silly that a simple comment could create a shift in my spirit and mind, it did! Turns out, there are always going to be opportunities to replace groans of unhappiness with creative thinking. If I had approached this whole house makeover with an attitude of “no compromises for me, m’am” it would have been anything but joyful.
Staying open both in the spiritual life and home renovation is critical. The reward for such openheartedness is how mysteriously subtle shifts in perspective teach you to refine your lens…a lesson that will serve you well in all of life.
6. Letting Go Creates Space
Our French country courtyard’s creation is one I have shared on the blog as one of the easiest yet dramatic projects here at home. When we bought the house, weeds and dead shrubbery had completely overtaken the front entry area. You might never know it from the street below our hill though. Weeds and overgrown bushes completely shielded the entire house exterior from the road!
The remedy for all of the overgrowth entailed broad strokes of subtraction and restraint when adding the new.
Since the budget was teeny anyway, we extracted everything except a burning bush then planted boxwood and lavender. Wheelbarrows of pea gravel came to live with cement pavers which cost less than a dollar each. We placed them as stepping stones in the gravel as well as atop eroded stone walls.
With labor and love, we created an airy, French-inspired courtyard canopied by mature trees; just right for meditative mornings with the birds.
Letting go can be tricky on a soulful level where unhealthy habits of being, reacting, and thinking have become firmly rooted. Old ways of coping, analyzing, and behaving may not easily budge because of tendency to cling to them.
Gardening is an excellent prescription for spiritual “stuckness” indeed. Digging in the dirt with an open heart seeking the grace to let go is powerfully good soul work.
The thing is, when space in the soul grows wider from tending it, pruning, and letting go, a new capacity to RECEIVE emerges! More spaciousness for the flow of love and light to enter and have its way with us!
7. Work Slow & Smart
Sometimes we are unaware of what may be waiting for us when we slow down to work. Does slowing down to work sound like an oxymoron? Because work need not always be a feverish hustle to the finish line (read THIS).
Wisdom school (yes, it really is a thing!) taught me to work from and in stillness. The work which was always sacred begins to resonate with your heart as sacred. If you are after interiors which radiate tranquility, calm, serenity, and heartfulness, I can think of no better approach than to adopt them in your spirit of labor.
8. Stay Centered in Your Heart
Is classical music your passion? Let it fill your ears as your muscles address tedious tasks at home you dread. Are there home improvement projects demanding hours of physical labor but only limited concentration? Listen to podcasts that enrich the soul and mind. (I listened to recordings of a favorite teaching pastor while I painted ceilings, and the time flew!)
9. Authentic Transformation
Real life renovation involves weeks of dust and chaos, sleepless nights, and stressful check writing. Even if you aren’t renovating DIY style, the headaches from contractors, subcontractors, permit pulling, and architectural review boards are REAL.
The spiritual journey can also feel like a rollercoaster ride. As you do the work of excavating the soul and unconscious material is uncovered, all the disorder and ego-demo (ha!), makes for a bumpy ride.
In my own experience, it is the daily work, the disciplined commitment to daily transformation that eventually leads to mindfulness, peacefulness, and freedom.
It isn’t a one and done job and then coasting; rather, you keep at it, keep stumbling and relearning, and keep finding yourself at different places on a spiral.
And let’s be honest. The work is never really complete. As soon as one area is done, the roof begins to leak or your needs change or funds run out.
But when you hold it all loosely while staying anchored in what matters most, miracles, serendipity, and blessings arrive. I don’t understand the mechanics of how this works, I only know I want to stay within the flow.
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THANKS SO MUCH FOR ENTERTAINING THESE REFLECTIONS…I’d love to hear from you.
Only rarely do we now get to see authentic renovations by regular people on television. Here’s a renovation story uncommonly rooted in reality (a charming French cottage in the South of France).
Also see these recent stories related to the pandemic:
Peace to you right where you are.
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