My friend, Canadian writer Catherine Fournier, kindly allowed me to post some photos of the rennovation of their upstairs hall, with commentary. Thanks for sharing, Catherine!
When I arrange a room and begin to decorate it, I think first about what the area will be used for, who will see it, then traffic patterns, then about ease of maintenance (keeping it clean and tidy.) I usually try to develop a theme for the colours, pictures and knick-knacks.
In the case of our upstairs hall, it started with finding a (safe) place for our statue of Mary; somewhere where she’d be properly and respectfully seen without being in danger of being knocked over, always a hazard in the large-footed & large-elbowed Fournier household. Once she was in place I realized that this transient zone –in my opinion you can be a little more overstated or emphatic in an area where people just pass through than in a room where people sit and stay – would work well as a “Marian devotions” area.
This left photo is what you see as you climb the steep stairs. I love the slow reveal. The statue came from the Nazareth Family Retreat centre – we brought it home to clean over the winter and then Nazareth closed, so Mary stayed with us. The picture is a copy of a 1969 Analog cover featuring an Anne McCaffrey story entitled “A Womanly Talent.” It was one of Peter’s favorite stories as a teen – imagine! A teen aged boy liking a story about a woman whose psi talent is creating psi talented children! I had if framed for him years ago and it always hangs somewhere in our home.
This view is to your right as you reach the top of the stairs. It’s fun to discover just how many pictures or items in a theme you’ve collected over the years. Here we see a Michael O’Brien print of the Assumption, a cross-stitch of the Memorare that I designed and Faustina stitched for me (the pattern is in “Marian Devotions in the Domestic Church,” a silk tapestry of OLPH that we found at Madonna House and contributed greatly to our family conversion (when we bought it we didn’t even know what “name of mary” it was!) and a silk painting of Our Lady of Japan, that we again found at Madonna House.
When we were in Rome we discovered a type of store that we called "The My-son-the-Priest" stores because they seemed to be full of all the beautiful, elaborate, wonderful liturgical type things that you would buy your son as an ordination present or similar occasion. One especially wonderful example of this kind of store was just off the square in front of Santa Maria Maggioria. (I'm pretty sure I haven't spelled that right...) Not only did it have vestaments, chalices and the like, it had a huge section of icons and statues (and off down a hallway, I spotted a cowed priest being made to try on endless black v-necked sweaters by a contingent of nuns, all fussing to find exactly the right sweater for him...) Anyway, I disgress, sorry about that, it was a fun afternoon.
The store had a glass cabinet full of different sizes of this Nativity set. They are carved in Africa of ebony, I'm not sure if you can see in this photo that the figures have African features. I was first enchanted and then thrilled to realise that not only could we afford the smallest set and we also still had space in our luggage to bring it home. The woven "hut" behind them is actually a woven grass basket that my father-in-law brought back as a souvenir from the Caribbean, set on its side. It seems to fit and Mary and Joseph certainly need somewhere to shelter! For years, I only brought this set out (with all the others) at Christmas time. But I like it so much and it's safe there and it fits the theme of the space, I think I'll leave it for a while.