This I Believe

Nelson - Holland, Michigan
Entered on December 19, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: creativity
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Grace in Our Spaces

I believe that well-designed work space brings grace into our lives. My work in kitchen design opens the door to very special opportunities in space planning. I want that central workplace in our homes to be pleasing in every way possible. Even if you are bone tired when you come home to the task at hand, I want that space to smile on you in such a way that you quickly forget your tiredness, because its grace mysteriously has lifted your load.

Even though I come from a long line of preachers and I once served as a college chaplain, I’m not using this word, “grace,” in its religious meaning. You don’t need to be a believer in God in order to believe that grace matters. What matters in my work is to create intersections of lines and surfaces and shapes that will seem complete and well balanced. Proportion matters. And movement matters, when it comes to what we do in kitchens—nothing there should obstruct the task at hand. Graceful space is also easy space, cloaking us who work there in comfort. You might even find yourself singing or dancing. I believe that the human spirit seeks gracious space.

And this kind of grace can surprise us. Long ago I received a postcard, “please come over for a glass of wine in my new kitchen, and let me tell you my story.” What I hadn’t known about their decision to remodel was that she was terribly afraid that she wouldn’t like the result—I knew only that her husband and their contractor had made the final decisions. They reinstalled most of the old kitchen in the basement and she lived for months mainly down there with their children, not wanting to come upstairs, even when urged, to see the progress. Finally they moved this very reluctant person into her new kitchen. She told me that at first view she had no idea whether she liked it at all. But six weeks later she mailed the postcard. Her first words upon my arrival were, “look at this kitchen, how elegant it is—it is far more than anything I could have imagined.” To say the least, memories of that moment confirm my belief that grace dwells in well-designed spaces.

True to my training, I’ll sermonize a bit here: I believe that grace emerges from attention to details—sloppiness crushes grace. I believe that grace comes to light from listening—when all is talk-talk-talk, grace wants to hide. And I believe that grace is more likely to appear when I choose to rework something in my design that I don’t like, despite time pressures—the end result may not be perfect, but my accepting the challenge to make it better releases grace to show her face when that new space is finally occupied.

This I believe.