April 13, 2007

Twenty Something / Christina Capecchi

Interior design that really matters

I admit it: I cry when I watch ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Something about Ty’s neighborhood rally, the dazzling redesign and the awed reactions tug on my heartstrings.

“She has epilepsy,” I wail between sniffs, “and now she has a princess castle in her bedroom! And her brother has a life-size Lego fort!”

Extreme Makeover may pack in the most drama per minute, but in the business of home design, it’s in crowded company.

With home ownership at an all-time high, our interest in not-so-humble abodes has kicked off a dizzying proliferation of reality TV, how-to books, glossy magazines and conversations at Panera.

Who doesn’t want to flip their house or trade their space? Who doesn’t crave a new look and a fresh start? And who doesn’t secretly believe in the potential of Plum Burst walls framed in Angel Touch purple to unleash creative genius?

We set down House Beautiful and glance at that cluttered junk room with wistful eyes, imagining it reborn by a nautical motif, complete with life preserver and wooden ship wheel. Some favor a Tuscan look, dressed up with a terracotta urn and rustic ceramic pottery. Others flirt with an Asian theme, wooed by the hip, exotic aura that somehow flows from elephant figurines and bamboo.

As a 20-something, the surging popularity of home design makes me restless. My June move will be my fifth since 2004. And my next zip code will not be my final one. I’m chasing jobs and dreams, putting the allure of home and family on hold. I’m exhaustingly mobile.

So when I stroll through Pottery Barn, I have to keep my yearnings in check. I’m sticking with the cheap, lightweight and unbreakable. The intricate rug, artistic mirrors and fireplace décor will come later.

Even if it’s frustrating, the young-adult nomadic lifestyle serves us well spiritually. Our Christian disposition should be marked by a sense of restlessness, impermanence and patience. We are all nomads on earth, preparing for our true home in heaven. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

If it wasn’t such a distant thought, heaven would shift our concept of interior design, compelling us to redesign an interior that’s not held up by bricks and mortar, but by bones and tendons.

True interior redesign begins with a restored prayer life, one that’s dusted and made more prominent. Patch up the patience that’s been so flimsy for so many years. Caulk the cracks that keep letting materialism and relativism seep in. Demolish envy. Repair self-love. And reinforce the weight-bearing walls made of principles and priorities.

The Easter Gospel reminds us of the empty tomb that Mary Magdalene discovered and the eternal home that Jesus entered. The story comforts a restless nomad like me. I may not have found my earthly home, but my spiritual home is all set.

Easter beckons us to reflect on heaven, that place eye has not seen and ear has not heard. Its design will astonish us. Every feature will accommodate. There’ll be no cramped closets, junk rooms or unfinished basements—just hardwood floors, vaulted ceilings and smudge-proof windows. A divine design.

When we arrive, God willing, the moment will contain all the drama of an Extreme Makeover episode. Cheering, crying, hugging. Awe and elation. But it’ll be even better because all our dearest friends and relatives will be there. And they’ll stick around long after the camera crew leaves.

House beautiful, home eternal.

(Christina Capecchi is a graduate student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

E-mail her at christinacap@gmail.com.) †

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