Provide Ventilation, Sunlight, and Drainage. --In the construction of
buildings, whether for public purposes or as dwellings, care should be taken to
provide for good ventilation and plenty of sunlight. Churches and schoolrooms
are often faulty in this respect. Neglect of proper ventilation is responsible
for much of the drowsiness and dullness that destroy the effect of many a sermon
and make the teacher's work toilsome and ineffective.
So far as possible, all buildings intended for human habitation should be
placed on high, well-drained ground. This will ensure a dry site. . . . This
matter is often too lightly regarded. Continuous ill health, serious diseases,
and many deaths result from the dampness and malaria of low-lying, ill-drained
In the building of houses it is especially important to secure thorough
ventilation and plenty of sunlight. Let there be a current of air and an
abundance of light in every room in the house. Sleeping rooms should be so
arranged as to have a free circulation of air day and night. No room is fit to
be occupied as a sleeping room unless it can be thrown open daily to the air and
sunshine. In most countries bedrooms need to be supplied with conveniences for
heating, that they may be thoroughly warmed and dried in cold or wet weather.
The guestchamber should have equal care with the rooms intended for constant
use. Like the other bedrooms, it should have air and sunshine and should be
provided with some means of heating to dry out the dampness that always accumulates in a room not in constant use. Whoever sleeps in a
sunless room or occupies a bed that has not been thoroughly dried and aired does
so at the risk of health, and often of life. . . .
Those who have the aged to provide for should remember that these especially
need warm, comfortable rooms. Vigour declines as years advance, leaving less
vitality with which to resist unhealthful influences; hence the greater
necessity for the aged to have plenty of sunlight and fresh, pure air.
Avoid Lowlands. --If we would have our homes the abiding place of health and
happiness, we must place them above the miasma and fog of the lowlands and give
free entrance to heaven's life-giving agencies. Dispense with heavy curtains,
open the windows and the blinds, allow no vines, however beautiful, to shade the
windows, and permit no trees to stand so near the house as to shut out the
sunshine. The sunlight may fade the drapery and the carpets and tarnish the
picture frames, but it will bring a healthy glow to the cheeks of the children.
The Yard Surrounding the House. --A yard beautified with scattering trees and
some shrubbery, at a proper distance from the house, has a happy influence upon
the family, and, if well taken care of, will prove no injury to the health. But
shade trees and shrubbery close and dense around a house make it unhealthful,
for they prevent the free circulation of air and shut out the rays of the sun.
In consequence, a dampness gathers in the house, especially in wet seasons.
The Effect of Natural Beauty on the Household. -- God loves the beautiful. He
has clothed the earth and the heavens with beauty, and with a Father's joy He watches the delight of
His children in the things that He has made. He desires us to surround our homes
with the beauty of natural things.
Nearly all dwellers in the country, however poor, could have about their
homes a bit of grassy lawn, a few shade trees, flowering shrubbery, or fragrant
blossoms. And far more than any artificial adorning will they minister to the
happiness of the household. They will bring into the home life a softening,
refining influence, strengthening the love of nature and drawing the members of
the household nearer to one another and nearer to God.
Let the Home Furnishings Be Simple. --Our artificial habits deprive us of
many blessings and much enjoyment, and unfit us for living the most useful
lives. Elaborate and expensive furnishings are a waste not only of money but of
that which is a thousandfold more precious. They bring into the home a heavy
burden of care and labour and perplexity. . . .
Furnish your home with things plain and simple, things that will bear
handling, that can be easily kept clean, and that can be replaced without great
expense. By exercising taste, you can make a very simple home attractive and
inviting, if love and contentment are there.
Happiness is not found in empty show. The more simple the order of a
well-regulated household, the happier will that home be.
Avoid the Spirit of Rivalry. --Life is a disappointment and a weariness to
many persons because of the unnecessary labour with which they burden themselves
in meeting the claims of custom. Their minds are continually harassed with anxiety as to supplying wants which are the offspring of pride
and fashion. . . .
The expense, the care, and labour lavished on that which, if not positively
injurious, is unnecessary would go far toward advancing the cause of God if
applied to a worthier object. People crave what are called the luxuries of life,
and sacrifice health, strength, and means to obtain them. A lamentable spirit of
rivalry is manifested among persons of the same class as to who shall make the
greatest display in matters of dress and of household expenditure. The sweet
word "Home" is perverted to mean "something with four walls,
filled with elegant furniture and adornments," while its inmates are on a
continual strain to meet the requirements of custom in the different departments
Many are unhappy in their home life because they are trying so hard to keep
up appearances. They expend large sums of money and labour unremittingly that
they may make a display and gain the praise of their associates --those who
really care nothing for them or their prosperity. One article after another is
considered indispensable to the household appointments, until many expensive
additions are made that, while they please the eye and gratify pride and
ambition, do not in the least increase the comfort of the family. And yet these
things have taxed the strength and patience, and consumed valuable time which
should have been given to the service of the Lord.
The precious grace of God is made secondary to matters of no real importance;
and many, while collecting material for enjoyment, lose the capacity for
happiness. They find that their possessions fail to give the satisfaction they
had hoped to derive from them. This endless round of labour, this unceasing
anxiety to embellish the home for visitors and strangers to admire, never pays for the time and means
thus expended. It is placing upon the neck a yoke of bondage grievous to be
Two Visits are Contrasted. --In some families there is too much done.
Neatness and order are essential to comfort, but these virtues should not be
carried to such an extreme as to make life a period of unceasing drudgery and to
render the inmates of the home miserable. In the houses of some whom we highly
esteem, there is a stiff precision about the arrangement of the furniture and
belongings that is quite as disagreeable as a lack of order would be. The
painful propriety which invests the whole house makes it impossible to find
there that rest which one expects in the true home.
It is not pleasant, when making a brief visit to dear friends, to see the
broom and the duster in constant requisition, and the time which you had
anticipated enjoying with your friends in social converse spent by them in a
general tidying up and peering into corners in search of a concealed speck of
dust or a cobweb. Although this may be done out of respect to your presence in
the house, yet you feel a painful conviction that your company is of less
consequence to your friends than their ideas of excessive neatness.
In direct contrast to such homes was one that we visited during the last
summer . Here the few hours of our stay were not spent in useless labour
or in doing that which could be done as well at some other time, but were
occupied in a pleasant and profitable manner, restful alike to mind and body.
The house was a model of comfort, although not extravagantly furnished. The
rooms were all well lighted and ventilated, . . . which is of more real value
than the most costly adornments. The parlours were not furnished with that precision which is so tiresome to
the eye, but there was a pleasing variety in the articles of furniture.
The chairs were mostly rockers or easy chairs, not all of the same fashion,
but adapted to the comfort of the different members of the family. There were
low, cushioned rocking chairs and high, straight-backed ones; wide, capacious
lounging chairs and snug, little ones; there were also comfortable sofas; and
all seemed to say, Try me, rest in me. There were tables strewn with books and
papers. All was neat and attractive, but without that precise arrangement that
seems to warn all beholders not to touch anything for fear of getting it out of
The proprietors of this pleasant home were in such circumstances that they
might have furnished and embellished their residence expensively, but they had
wisely chosen comfort rather than display. There was nothing in the house
considered too good for general use, and the curtains and blinds were not kept
closed to keep the carpets from fading and the furniture from tarnishing. The
God-given sunlight and air had free ingress, with the fragrance of the flowers
in the garden. The family were, of course, in keeping with the home; they were
cheerful and entertaining, doing everything needful for our comfort, without
oppressing us with so much attention as to make us fear that we were causing
extra trouble. We felt that here was a place of rest. This was a home in the
fullest sense of the word.
A Principle Used in Decorating. --The rigid precision which we have mentioned
as being a disagreeable feature of so many homes is not in accordance with the
great plan of nature. God has not caused the flowers of the fields to grow in
regular beds, with set borders, but He has scattered them like gems over the greensward, and they beautify the
earth with their variety of form and colour. The trees of the forest are not in
regular order. It is restful to eye and mind to range over the scenes of nature,
over forest, hill, and valley, plain and river, enjoying the endless diversity
of form and colour, and the beauty with which trees, shrubs, and flowers are
grouped in nature's garden, making it a picture of loveliness. Childhood, youth,
and age can alike find rest and gratification there.
This law of variety can be in a measure carried out in the home. There should
be a proper harmony of colours and a general fitness of things in the
furnishings of a house; but it is not necessary to good taste that every article
of furniture in a room should be of the same pattern in design, material, or
upholstery; but, on the contrary, it is more pleasing to the eye that there
should be a harmonious variety.
But whether the home be humble or elegant, its appointments costly or the
reverse, there will be no happiness within its walls unless the spirit of its
inmates is in harmony with the divine will. Contentment should reign within the
The very best part of the house, the sunniest and most inviting rooms, and
the most comfortable furniture should be in a daily use by those who really live
in the house. This will make home attractive to the inmates and also to that
class of friends who really care for us, whom we could benefit, and by whom we
could be benefited.
Consider the Children's Comfort and Welfare. -- It does not require costly
surroundings and expensive furniture to make children contented and happy in
their homes, but it is necessary that the parents give them tender love and careful
Four walls and costly furniture, velvet carpets, elegant mirrors, and fine
pictures do not make a "home" if sympathy and love are wanting. That
sacred word does not belong to the glittering mansion where the joys of domestic
life are unknown. . . .
In fact the comfort and welfare of the children are the last things thought
of in such a home. They are neglected by the mother, whose whole time is devoted
to keeping up appearances and meeting the claims of fashionable society. Their
minds are untrained; they acquire bad habits and become restless and
dissatisfied. Finding no pleasure in their own homes, but only uncomfortable
restrictions, they break away from the family circle as soon as possible. They
launch out into the great world with little reluctance, unrestrained by home
influence and the tender counsel of the hearthstone.
Don't say to them as I have heard many mothers say, "There is no room
for you here in the parlour. Don't sit on that sofa that is covered with satin
damask. We don't want you to sit down on that sofa." And when they go into
another room, "We don't want your noise here." And they go into the
kitchen, and the cook says, "I cannot be bothered with you here. Go out
from here with your noise; you pester me so, and bother me." Where do they
go to receive their education? Into the street.
Kindness and Love More Precious Than Luxury. -- Too many cares and burdens
are brought into our families, and too little of natural simplicity and peace
and happiness is cherished. There should be less care for what the outside world
will say, and more thoughtful attention to the members of the family circle.
There should be less display and affectation of worldly politeness, and much more
tenderness and love, cheerfulness and Christian courtesy among the members of
the household. Many need to learn how to make home attractive, a place of
enjoyment. Thankful hearts and kind looks are more valuable than wealth and
luxury, and contentment with simple things will make home happy if love be
Jesus, our Redeemer, walked the earth with the dignity of a king; yet He was
meek and lowly of heart. He was a light and blessing in every home because He
carried cheerfulness, hope, and courage with Him. Oh, that we could be satisfied
with less heart longings, less striving for things difficult to obtain wherewith
to beautify our homes, while that which God values above jewels, the meek and
quiet spirit, is not cherished. The grace of simplicity, meekness, and true
affection would make a paradise of the humblest home. It is better to endure
cheerfully every inconvenience than to part with peace and contentment.