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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
216 pages
May 2005
Pleasant Word

Save Perfection for Heaven

by Jana Conrad

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt



The room is warm and alive with color and texture. Thought provoking details are scattered throughout, enticing one to openly examine every corner.  Stacks of books arranged to look as though they are actually useful line the coffee table where a vase of fresh flowers takes center stage. Light gracefully filters through the high arched windows making a lovely silhouette of the curved banister in the foyer. Only marble and granite cover the floors and countertops and the imported fabrics are most likely from France. Two women speak in soft tones enjoying each other’s company over a cup of coffee.    

         “My, what a wonderful place,” one sighs.

        “It is enjoyable,” the second one confesses. “I can’t stay for long. I have to go pick up the kids from school.”

        “Me too, I almost forgot. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment!”

        Both women venture around the dwelling a few more moments and then leave the model home to go back to ten-year-old couches, walls that have never thought about being painted, bookshelves crammed with everything under the sun – a glaring difference to the perfectly decorated, never lived-in look of the model home.

    It is amusing to go into the “kid’s” room in a model home. They have two stuffed animals sitting politely on the bed and the latest fabrics in the cutest kid prints – no expense has been spared. There are no fingerprints on the light switches and the dresser tops are clear except for the three knick-knacks the decorator picked out to go on top of the dresser. There are no socks or underwear lying behind the bathroom door. Need I say more?

    This may be the world we would like to live in, but it is a far cry from the reality that belongs to those of us who answer to “Honey” or “Mom.” So what is decorating to us who find ourselves in the category of “attached” to other human beings?

“…And before the throne there was …a sea of glass like crystal,” Rev. 4:6a.

    Now that’s perfection! But it should be – it’s Heaven. With the God-given desire to make pretty homes, some of us need to be encouraged that we do not need to be an expert to accomplish the task. This side of Heaven, decorating is not about perfection. (Did I hear a sigh of relief?) Decorating is also not about buying expensive things for your home or getting rid of everything you possess and starting over. It is not about competing with your neighbor or your best friend and most importantly it is not hard to do!

    It is about the five senses with which God equipped us.  It is about pleasing our eyes, ears, nose, mouth and hands. It is about enjoying life to the fullest. For this reason, none of our homes look exactly alike, and because it is about how we as individuals enjoy life, EVERYONE can decorate. How can I say that everyone can decorate and be sure I am right? Because of what it says in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image.” Since you were created in the image of God and He is the author of design – then you absolutely have some level of design ability – don’t take my word for it – take His. Enjoy, be creative, and remember – Save Perfection for Heaven!


A New Beginning

Chapter One

The lady of the house opens the door and smiles. The interior designer she hired is here – the savior of the undecorated. She has waited anxiously for this day - after years of living with unpainted, unpapered, and unaccessorized rooms! The designer swoops in with her color wheel and fabric swatches and looks distastefully at the furniture.

“This will all have to go!” she screeches. “My painter will be here tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. sharp, and I will have the most elaborate new design for your room, unlike any you have ever seen. The fabrics are imported, the paint is Ralph Lauren; the furniture is the most expensive money can buy. You can rest assured you will have the most decorated, the most glamorously beautiful room ever created. Crowds will come from miles around just to get a glance at your room. People magazine will want an interview, and the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous photographer will be here to immortalize it on film.”

She finishes her speech and is gone. The lady of the house is almost too excited for words. She calls all her friends to tell them about the design project. “Come to my house next week for brunch and you can view my new room. Only those with exquisite taste will truly understand how wonderful will be.”

The day is finally here. She has a room like no other. It is perfectly decorated with the most exquisite fabrics and furniture. It is a place to entertain even the most prestigious person. Movie stars may even call her to find out where she bought her sofa. She stands outside the door with a number of family members and friends. They chat excitedly until the designer pulls into the driveway and trots up the steps. Everyone becomes respectfully silent. The moment has arrived.

The designer welcomes everyone saying, “I assume that everyone here will be able to appreciate this level of design. Not everyone can, you know. Some are too simple to understand true design. I hope no one here will be left out of the enjoyment because of their own lack of good taste.”  The designer finishes her speech and then opens the door.

The lady of the house enters her new room followed by the mob in her front yard. She “ooos” and “ahs” over the colors and the furniture. “It’s exquisite,” she says to her husband. “The finest of fabrics, so I’m told.”

The decorator explains all of the most important pieces while everyone exclaims over the room.

 “She is one of the most respected decorators around,” one person comments reassuring everyone that they also know and understand good taste. Secretly she was unconvinced that the room looked good, but everyone else seems to think the room is wonderful.

All of the adults continue to compliment the design, embarrassed by their own apparent lack of taste, for they find the room rather distasteful. Just then the owner’s son returns from school. The seven-year-old stands in the doorway of the living room. His eyebrows knit and his nose wrinkles.

 “This looks awful,” he says to no one in particular. “That couch looks like it came out of Grandma’s closet. You hate the way Grandma dresses.  They painted the room gold. You hate the color gold.” Looking into his mother’s crimson face he says, “Take my advice, Mom; next time maybe you should consult me before you change the room. I can remind you of what you really like so you don’t make this mistake again.”

Designer’s Workshop:

The television decorating show host exuberantly says, “You can do it!” and another smiles and declares her ideas are “A good thing.” But how can we be sure they’re right? After all, they don’t know how badly we can mess things up! They have had years to perfect the trade of interior design and we have had only moments spliced together between the rigors of real life. And who do we side with? One has an idea and someone else another. Who is right? What if we make a mistake! What if we make a horrible blunder of decorating and break one of those decorating rules that only interior design people can tell you but everyone else can see?

Let’s talk about model homes for a moment. Aren’t they beautiful?  How would you like to learn how to make your home look just like one of those homes? Let me ask you another question, who lives in those model homes? Who picks up the dirty underwear behind the door? Who are these people who have only three things in their pantry, no clothes in their closets and no junk mail on their counters? How about those children who are content to play with only three toys and leave their little knick-knacks on the dresser alone? Sure, their table is always set, but nobody ever enjoys sitting down to eat in that dining room. Let’s take a closer look at life for a moment.  

As we walk through life what keeps our tongues from saying: your tag is sticking up, your slip is showing, your deodorant stopped working, and you have lipstick on your teeth?  We are so good at noticing the details. Why do we hesitate when it comes to telling a person something that will help them?  I’ll tell you why.  We want to pretend we live in a perfect world.

As women we know what we want and more importantly, we know what we don’t want. We want to be liked, but more importantly we don’t want to be disliked. We want to be heard and understood, but we don’t want to be talked about behind our backs. We don’t want to have a physical flaw, but if we do we want to be thought of as beautiful by someone. We want to be thought of as kind, but we don’t want to always be kind. We want to have friends but we don’t want to have to always be friendly. We want to be married, but more importantly we do not want to be alone. We want to always be right, but more importantly we want to never be wrong. If I could sum up in one word what women want it is – perfection.

Girls are excellent mimics. We want our homes to look like the picture in the magazine and stay that way all day long even though we have three kids, a dog and a husband.  I would like to clean the kitchen and then never cook again so that it will always look new.  We bring home the new table to use and then spend all our time making it look like it was never used at all. We want everything to stay looking new. It is a human trait, a very old human trait. Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, but they did not forget what it was like to live in Eden. Things had changed, but I imagine they tried to make it feel like what they had thought of as “home.”

I can hear Eve saying to Adam, “Get that weed out of the front yard, it came back! I’ll have no weeds in this yard, do you hear me. We didn’t have to live with them before, and I’m certainly not going to put up with them now. And one more thing, that tree looks lopsided – fix it. If there is one thing I know, it’s how a tree is supposed to look and there is something wrong with that one.”

We want things done perfectly, but a lot of us women are not “do-it-yourself” people. So we have to hire another perfectionist to do the actual work. We want a perfect house, perfect kids, and perfect pets. Some of us can’t handle pets in the house because in order for a pet to be in the house it has to smell perfectly, play perfectly, and “potty” perfectly, and if it can’t – out it goes. At times we barely tolerate our kids making mistakes - who needs to put up with an animal?

To step out and tell a person something she needs to hear makes her uncomfortable, but more than that, it shatters our image of a pretty world. We like our pretense. We settle nicely into our shallow, unimportant conversation and enjoy the fantasy played out from every picture of adulthood we have ever entertained. We like “dress up” and tea parties. We romanticize the bygone days of ladies with parasols and gloved hands days filled with women sitting in the parlor having quiet conversation. While doing needlepoint, they wait for their suitor to come calling, hoping he will carry them across the threshold of his southern mansion. In reality, we know those days were filled with hard chores for most, but the instinct is still there to sit quietly by with a polite smile and a partially sincere, “How do you do?” Whether we lack the strength to be a true friend, or the guts to decorate and have someone criticize it, both ruin our endeavor to pretend life is perfect. It’s easier to leave it alone than to change it and risk ridicule.

Let’s look at the “rules” of interior design. Whose rules will determine the direction to go? I found a “rule” a while ago that has served me very nicely when it comes to interior design, so let’s start with that rule. Here it is -  Stop following rules! Design is supposed to be creative and different. Our society seems to be chasing after a few people’s ideas of what looks good. How can something be different if everything is the same? Decorating is not about being normal. Many people want to decorate so they can move from plain and ordinary to status quo. Those who really want to make a statement want to make it perfectly, so they never even start.

What I really want you to do is to think like a designer. If you understand the reasoning behind the “rules” you never have to follow the rules again. Some of you are totally uninhibited in the decorating of your homes – good for you. Keep at it, and maybe apply some of that same creative thinking to other areas of your lives.

Designer thinking says: It doesn’t matter how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose that counts! Designer thinking may not be true in everyday life, but in the design world it is most definitely true. It does not matter how you accomplish the look of your room, it only matters that it turns out to be a winner. I want to clarify that last part – it only matters that it turns out a winner – to you! If the president of the association of interior designers herself comes into your room and says it doesn’t work – but you like it – then it works!  I know someone out there is saying, “Well, I haven’t decorated and that works for me.” This brings up a few good questions:

    •       What is decorating and why do we do it?

    •       Who are the people who usually decorate?

    •       What if I am not like them? Can I still learn to decorate?


Why do we decorate?

Decorating has always been symbolic. From the ancient Egyptian pyramids to the White House as it is today, decorating exhibits:

    •       What we believe

    •       What motivates us

    •       What and who we honor

    •       Where we have been

    •       What we have discovered

    •       Who has influenced us

The White House, which was first occupied in 1800, is a good example of the symbolism that is a part of decorating. In 1962 Mrs. Kennedy chose a green fabric that was set aside until they used it for the 1971 makeover of the room that is appropriately called the “Green Room.” They found a design for the window treatments in an early 1900’s magazine and used a fabric of beige, green, and coral striped satin. They placed golden American eagles with wings out-stretched over the top of each window. A key word for what goes into a decorating project is – sentiment! Merriam-Webster defines sentiment as “An idea colored by emotion.”1 This brings us to our next question.  

What is decorating?

Not only is decorating symbolic, it also encompasses our entire human experience. It is:

    •       Social

    •       Emotional

    •       External and internal

    •       Physical

    •       Mental

    •       Spiritual

We decorate to accommodate our own level of social activity. If you entertain people in your home, you plan for their needs. Seating, extra glassware, and stocked available bathrooms are good examples of how someone who takes a social approach to decorating considers her decorating project.

Someone who takes a physical approach to decorating will have available the things someone might need! Here are some things they might have available: extra pillows, blankets, wash cloths, towels, nightlights, cots, extra brushes, food, and of course, conversation.

Throughout the book we will discover how these six areas: physical, mental, spiritual, internal/external, emotional, and social, directly affect our own outlook on decorating and coincide with our five senses. My desire is to encourage and motivate you to decorate the way that is best suited to your own personality, abilities, and needs.

Who is generally thought of as a decorator?

The most common belief is that the types of people who decorate are:

    •       Creative

    •       Driven

    •       Confident

    •       Talented

    •       Educated

So what happens to those of us who feel:  [2] (below)

    •       Uneducated

    •       Stupid

    •       Reluctant

    •       Unimaginative

    •       Unmotivated

We will learn how everyone can decorate, and answer one more question – What should be our main motive in decorating? We will also take a closer look at you, by asking you two questions in this book.

    1. What kind of woman are you?

    2. What do you want?

Knowing the answer to these questions will lead you to a better understanding of how to accomplish the task of decorating your home with your personality. And remember: EVERYONE can decorate! How can I say that everyone can decorate and be sure I am right? Because of what it says in Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image.” Since you were created in the image of God and He is the author of design – then you absolutely have some level of design ability – don’t take my word for it – take His.


Jana’s Decorating Personality Test

Choose the box that best describes you. Choose only one box per line. Remember that this is only an estimate of your stylistic tendencies. Although you should complete this test now, Chapter 3 will help you decipher it.


What is your favorite color family?

Family One:


Family Two:


Family Three:


What is your favorite shape?




What is your least favorite color?




What is the prominent color in your closet?

Blue or pink

Green or red

Black or tan

How many pairs of black shoes do you own?




Do you own a pair of red shoes?

Yes, but I don’t wear them.



Do you tend to be




What are the colors of your everyday dishes?

Blue, cream or pink


Black, white or beige

How many extra pillows do you have on your couch?




When choosing a picture which of these are you most inclined to choose?





Abstract shapes

When choosing between old things or brand new you:

Love old things

Love old and new

Love new

Hate old

You tend to be:




In fabrics you tend to choose:







Do you like to dress up and go out?


Yes and no

Go out – yes

Dress up- no

Is your kitchen table




What color is your car?




How long ago did you replace your towels?

5 years or more

3-5 years

0-2 years


You tend to be:




How many pieces of furniture are in your living room?