Have you ever heard the phrase “domestic church?” It comes from the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, where it is written, “The family, is so to speak, the domestic church,” and the term signifies that the home and the family are the first places where children — and individuals throughout their lifespans — learn about and practice their faith.
Think about it like this: even if you attend Mass, confession, and church-related events several times a week as a family, the number of hours that your children spend at home and with you will dwarf the time they spend at church. For this reason alone, what happens in the home has a tremendous impact on the development of a child’s faith life.
Home is where children first learn about God; it’s where the liturgical seasons become a part of their day-to-day life, where prayer lives are cultivated, and where everyone in a family is given ample opportunity to learn about virtues like love and patience. The domestic church is one of my favorite images of family life, and it feels like both a privilege and an enormous responsibility to work with my husband to build and strengthen our domestic church.
Along with taking our children to Mass, making the sacraments a regular celebration, and praying as a family, one of the ways we build our domestic church is by decorating our home accordingly. We fill our home with Catholic decorations that outwardly demonstrate the beauty of our faith, and we make our home a place where our children can encounter God through their senses.
If you are interested in building your domestic church in this way, here are some of our favorite Catholic home decorating ideas for 2021:
When you’re looking at 2021 home decor ideas, wall decor is the perfect place to start. Walls are like big, blank canvases that provide open space to express ideas, share values, and add personality to your home. When looking to add Catholic Art and Catholic decorations to my domestic church, I gravitate toward items that can be placed on a wall, in part because we have many walls, and in part, because I know that wall art isn’t going to get lost (or damaged) in the shuffle of an active family’s life. A vase getting yanked off a table is a lot more likely than a picture being torn down from a wall, after all!
Some go-to home decorating ideas, in terms of wall art, are photographs or art prints. One of my favorite sets of art in our home includes these three watercolor prints: the Sacred Heart, the Immaculate Heart, and the Chaste Heart of St. Joseph. Bright and calm, these prints stand beautifully on their own or can be placed on a wall as a collection of Catholic decorations.
But framed pictures aren’t the only items that hang well on walls. Other pieces of wall art in our home include this San Damiano Wall Cross (its all white color will blend well with every color scheme) and this Immaculate Heart Holy Water Font (at 6x3 inches, it’s small and could be hung almost anywhere, though I recommend placing it by a doorway, as passing through a threshold is a perfect time to bless yourself with holy water).
SHELF OR OTHER SURFACE DECOR
Shelves are the perfect place for a piece of statement decor, such as this Sacred Heart on a Stand. The Sacred Heart is an iconic symbol representing the transformative power of divine love for all of humanity, and the antique gold and 12-inch height of this piece would look beautiful on a bookshelf, end table, or mantle.
Statues are another great home decor option for any of these surfaces. For most of the year, I display this Our Lady of the Rosary statue on my bedside table (I love having Mother Mary watch over me as I sleep), this Pieta statue on our mantle, and this St. Joseph statue on our living room bookshelf (depicting the child Jesus being held by his “foster father” is a good visual of one of my parenting role models, so I like keeping this statue in a frequently visited area).
Come December, I swap out most of my Catholic decorations for items that bring us visually into the holy seasons of Advent and Christmas. This Wooden Nativity — complete with the Holy Family, the Three Wise Men, an angel, shepherds, and the Star of Bethlehem — is a favorite of our children and has a special spot on our mantle, and this small Tree Nativity usually ends up on one of our bookshelves.
While our wall and shelf decor remain pretty consistent throughout the year (with just the occasional swap out for particular saint days or liturgical seasons), I love to rotate the Catholic decorations that we use on our dining room table. While I don’t typically set elaborate tablescapes for our “everyday” dinners, I love creating a beautiful layout for birthdays, holidays, and Sunday dinners.
My tablescapes almost always include a candle or two, some sort of plant (like flowers or greenery), and a centerpiece with a larger decorative item, like this Mini Mary Garden or a standing cross. Sometimes I’ll enlist one of the kids to make place cards, especially if we have guests joining us, and I use whichever pretty linens are cleaned and ironed!
Some people might consider decorating a home that’s full of young children impractical, and hey, I get it. I avoid white furniture, dry-clean only curtains, and fine china like the plague, even though my home vision board is full of these items. A mom’s got to retain her sanity, after all! But decor that calls to mind our faith, that makes our home a domestic church visually as well as intellectually and emotionally? I’ll say yes to this any day.
EXPLORE HOME DECORATING IDEAS WITH HOUSE OF JOPPA
Ready to add elegant, modern Catholic decorations to your home? Explore our collection of artisanal wall art, statues, candles, and more to find styles that perfectly showcase the beauty of our faith. Better yet, check out our blog for more 2021 home decor ideas, Catholic lifestyle tips, and so much more.