Silent Witness: The Language of Your Home

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My grandfather recently gave me a book that a friend of his authored called Silent Witness: The Language of Your Home. It was written by interior designer Georg Andersen, and it’s now one of my very favorite books!


The book was written in 1999, so the styling and decorating is older and definitely not everyone’s taste, but I absolutely love it. Georg and I have a similar aesthetic: layered, mixing patterns and prints, warm, and most importantly, we share an awareness of the “silent language” each home possesses. I’ve said this many times and I’ll say it again: I don’t at ALL claim to be an expert in decorating or styling. I’m just a “thinker” and I’m constantly thinking about what truly makes a house a home.

Georg is one of the best I’ve ever seen at describing how we as Christians can express our love for the Lord through our homes. One of my favorite things that Georg does is how he creates new phrases and ways of thinking about certain rooms in our homes. I want to share some of my favorite quotes from Silent Witness; there is so much depth in his words!

The Importance of Home

“Christians are people in transition. We are on a slow but steady journey between two worlds held apart by time. But until we reach the confluence, we are to be about the business of emulating Jesus in our daily walks, integrating and engrafting His character into every part of our lives.”

“The very essence of a home is inexorably hound to the way that life is expressed through it. And the high ground that we hope to claim in this book is to help make that expression a picture of Christ.”

“Design is more of a continuum rather than a onetime action. It’s the process of putting together unrelated things – juxtaposing even the valuable and the trivial if you desire – to develop the “words” that we want our home to use.”

Your Home’s First Words 

“While we certainly want the set the tone at the outset without running roughshod over anyone, we do have a rich spiritual heritage that doesn’t cause us any shame.”

“Reverence, Concern, Sincerity, Faith and many other must be intertwined, hopefully in seamless unity like the words of a hymn. Invisibly woven into the fabric of every room, these words should produce an enchanting, unforgettable melody that draws others into the help and hope that you ultimately want to provide.”

The Welcome Room (Entryway)

“Without preaching, family pictures say, ‘Pull together; a family lives here. We care about each other, and we care about you.'”

“. . .Loyalty within a real family in a day when families are so fragmented. And they say it so subtly to those who may feel the need for family or for close relationships.”

The Daily Room (Family Room/Gathering Space)

“I long for homemakers to understand the importance of not hiding everything. We must get around that if our homes are to be used and useful. Let’s be creative about it.”

“Toys and photos proclaim life: a home is not for looking but for feeling and touching and hugging.”

“Our Daily Room has more than twenty separate fabric patterns, the bulk of them being varied plaids, even though ‘ribbons of color’ provide of a feeling of continuity. In a very subtle sense, this says that our tastes don’t rigidly conform to a particular style – either in furnishings or in people.”

The Living Room

“I almost always prefer furnishings and accessories with a history.”

“Seemingly unrelated patterns and things, if put together with an attitude of authority, can result in a unique cohesiveness unattainable with preplanned matches.”

“Design has little or no value unless the heart gains control, regardless of how things seem to fit in a technical sense.”

“The stories in your objects and furnishings are the words that bring any room to life.”

The Settling Room (Master Bedroom)

“In a sense, we do acknowledge the importance of the seemingly ordinary trifles of today, but we seldom comprehend their full import until they are seen from the vantage point of tomorrow.” (My note: is this not fantastic?)

“Our master bedroom has been the place where so many difficult issues of life were brought to resolution. Settled, as it were, in a  peaceful, joyous, and harmonious way. That’s why we call it the Settling Room.”

“A comfortable two-seat sofa and a pair of lounge chairs say that we’re not in a hurry. We’ve always wanted the children to know that there is a place where we can draw aside and take time to work things through. Even Jesus had to occasionally draw away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of ministry to take care of personal needs.”

“It’s the last room we see at night and the first that we see in the morning.”

“Forget about purchasing matched sets. Mixing and matching is far more interesting, costs less, and accommodates genuine creativity.”

The Hospitality Room (Kitchen)

“Paper the walls of the souls of your children.”

“If we include others in our lives in such a way, our floors may get scuffed, our tabletops may be scratched, and our upholstery may be worn an faded. But should we worry about it? To me, these are the tangible evidences of allowing a home to be broken and spilled out for others. Personally, I’d rather have my possessions be the first wear down.”

“Our home is not used for anything on a big scale except to advance the Kingdom, and I recognize my responsibility to be a good steward. Still, I want it to be thoroughly used without my being compulsive about my possessions. After all, who owns it all?”

“We must begin with the hospitality of our own homes to build up a good self-image in our mates, to encourage our children, and to love those whom we call brothers and sisters within the family of God.”

The Ministry Room (Guest Room)

“To be effective in touching others, we must look beyond surface issues, perhaps even projecting our own frailties and vulnerabilities into their shoes. We need different eyes. . .eyes that speak of Compassion, Tolerance, and Humility.”

The Banquet Room (Dining Room)

“If your goal in opening your home is to impress, others may be awed by the show, but one trip will more than suffice. They won’t return. But a focus on serving will strike a resonant chord of intimate need.”

See what I mean? These words spoke deeply to me. I very much appreciate an interior designer  – someone who arranges, designs, decorates and styles for a living – who acknowledges that it is NOTHING without Christ. A home with hardly anything in it can have the EXACT same effect on people as the home that’s decorated to the hilt if they share the Holy Spirit.

My grandfather inscribed these words to me in the front of the book, and it sums up the message perfectly:

May the rooms of our hearts all be built and decorated with the Mind of the Master!”

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lisa rippy

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  1. Lisa Rippy on February 23, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    So true … so true! Loved this ….“If your goal in opening your home is to impress, others may be awed by the show, but one trip will more than suffice. They won’t return. But a focus on serving will strike a resonant chord of intimate need.” This one blog seems to summarize so much of the heart of Interior Inspirations. Like your grandfather said but with a little I.I. twist, “To inspire the rooms of our heart to all be built and decorated with the Mind of the Master.”

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