Posted by: kathryngraves | February 23, 2017

Surround Yourself

Time Away

The last week or so, I’ve spent time away from home in a beautiful neighborhood in Denver. The weather has been nice, so I’ve gone out on long daily walks. One of my favorite things about this neighborhood is the houses. They are mostly turn-of-the-20th-century Craftsman bungalows.


I’ve loved old houses for a long time–ever since I worked for my father cleaning his rental houses after people moved out. Dad had converted a number of old, historic gems into apartment buildings. While I cleaned, I would imagine how to restore the house back to it’s original beauty. Several of these houses were Victorian, and some were Craftsman. But all still retained their original wood moldings and staircases. Thankfully, Dad just covered up what was there instead of removing it.

Artistic Beauty

My grandmother was an artist. She struggled to part with her paintings, and instead lined the walls of her house with them. One house can only hold so many, so my parents lined the walls of their house with them, too. I literally grew up surrounded by beauty. Grandma gave me art lessons when I was a teenager, and as we worked, she would talk about her next re-modeling project for her house. It was from her that I learned to see beyond what is to what can be.

It was during this period of my life that I worked for my Dad.

The lessons stuck. I line my walls with Grandma’s paintings, my own, and my son’s photography. I am never content to let my house just “be”. I am forever creating projects for my husband to do. He’s learned to put his guard up when I say, “Honey, I have an idea…”

We don’t live in an old house, but I have never lost my love for them. So this time in Denver, smack in the middle of a historic neighborhood, is like a taste of heaven to me.

Impact of Beauty

Why do we decorate our houses, or fill them with collectibles we love? Because we are drawn to beautiful. We are created in the image of Beautiful. I happen to think it is important to take care with our home decor and landscape design. (I neglected to mention Grandma was an avid rose gardener!) What we see every day impacts our mood.


Even the smallest house in the poorest neighborhood can be visually appealing. I participated in a mission trip to a squatters village in the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago. The people we worked among were the poorest of the poor. But one home stands out in my memory. The woman who lived there took care with her surroundings. She made things to hang on the walls and made coverings for her sagging sofa and chairs. She found a bookcase to bring home that held mementos and a few photos that were  precious to her. She grew plants and hung them in the few windows and in her tiny courtyard. This woman knew the value of her visual surroundings.


Flowers growing in the village.                                                                                   Photo: Kathryn Graves

Our Mandate

After all, isn’t God the Master Designer and Landscaper? If He thought it was important to fill the earth with beauty, would you agree that it is important for us to follow His example with our little piece of it? Like the poor woman I met, we don’t have to spend a fortune on high-end or expensive furnishings in order for them to be beautiful. Our mandate is to fill the earth and subdue it. I think part of that filling needs to include beauty.


Flowers from my yard, in my grandmother’s vase.                                                   Photo: Kathryn Graves




  1. Like

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Old homes always bless me. Serving beauty & life. Oh, how I want to learn to do outside with beauty. I enjoy what God had provided already. Blessings.

  3. Love these thoughts, Kathy. Beautiful!

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