The church is a place of worship, and as such, decorating it must be appropriate.
Today, some churches are shifting from long-established traditionalist styles to a modern and more practical one. Cupolas and spires have become things of the past as churches move to industrial areas to make them more accessible to the populace.
Building a grandiose church is one thing, decorating it is another. The external edifice accommodates the faithful, while the interiors incite them to worship. But regardless of aesthetics, both have to serve their purposes well.
As churchgoers, we may not really care about the detailed decor of our churches, but when they’re gone, they will definitely be noticeable: the absence of inspiring paintings, illuminating lights, fresh scent of flowers and solemn glow of candles will definitely be missed.
So to elevate that worship experience, we have a few decorative pointers for you.
Proper lighting is transformational in a church. It can turn a gloomy cavern into a luminous sanctuary. What determines the general lighting is the structure and location itself. The height of the ceiling and its type (e.g. traditional vaulted/cathedral type, the common drywall ceiling or modern ones like suspended, coffered, or tray ceilings) are major considerations. Overhead lights can be put in place where spotlighting or emphasizing is needed especially in important parts inside the church like the altar, or where statues or paintings are placed. This can be in the form of sconces and candelabras either hung on walls or put on candle stands.
Proper lighting should also be ensured along the pews to light up the crowd especially during evening masses.
Colors have significant meanings, and they can create a more profound experience when applied with knowledge. These colors are sometimes best exhibited in church robes and paraments during Holy Mass celebrations. For example, pastors and priests or the choir would wear robes and choir cassocks that correspond to the liturgical season.
Here are some of the colors used in modern-day Christian churches and their meanings:
Red symbolizes the presence of God. This also symbolizes the blood shed by martyrs.
Purple symbolizes pain and suffering and is the color for the Season of Lent.
Blue signifies the kingship of Christ and is used to symbolize his imminent birth during Advent.
Gold denotes what is precious and valuable, as well as majesty and festive joy. This is commonly used in joyous occasions and church celebrations.
Yellow stands for light, renewal, and hope.
Green signifies renewal and new life.Green is the color of the Advent Wreath.
Gray is for repentance, which in turn is symbolized by the ash on Ash Wednesday.
Pink means happiness and the anticipation for the coming birth of Christ.
Black is the representation of mourning and death. A black cloth is sometimes used to drape crosses and altars during Good Friday.
White pertains to purity, sanctity, and virtuousness. The color is also used on baptisms and weddings.
Furnishings and Flooring
Designing a church can go as far as a big renovation, so it’s important to know a little bit of the structure and materials used to know what works best with what. Help from an expert church member, like an architect, engineer, or interior designer would be much appreciated.
In the traditional setting, pews are the choice of seats. On the other hand, contemporary style churches use individual chairs to be a bit different. Most of the time, the choice of seats should also complement the floor.
Pews usually look best with wood (or wood-looking material) and carpeted flooring. Carpeting may be put on aisles. Churches with longer rites and in-church activities usually use chairs instead of pews for better mobility. In addition, concrete tiled flooring works best with individual chair seating.
Church floorings must be able to withstand heavy activity especially that churches can be full of people on Sundays and special days.Wooden floors may not withstand such crowds; it also requires more effort in maintenance like waxing, sanding, and buffing. It is also not resistant to water so this can be an issue for areas where it snows.
However, there are easy to install floorings that could be done regularly over a period of timebut these may not be very economical. For longevity and endurance, terrazzo tiles are highly recommended for churches in general. The cost may be high, but it is worth it.
Another consideration when it comes to flooring is that if your church uses traditional musical instruments like a pipe organ that requires reverberation and good acoustics, then shy away from carpeting or cork floors. These instruments require hard surfaces for better sound effect.
Wall Fixtures and Coverings
Some churches feature paintings or murals. In old traditional churches which are laden with alcoves, statues, posts, and columns, and even frescoes,minimal decoration is needed because the interior design itself is majestic. Small churches with simple architecture may need more work to have better visuals and add warmth to the atmosphere.
Replicas of popular paintings like the Last Supper and the Entombment or sculptures like the Pietà look good on certain parts of the church.
You can also go for simple but thought-provoking verses from the bible like James 1:14-15 –“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Or Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (New King James Version)
Certain decorative elements in the church may be the small things like flowers and candles but they contribute to the overall ambience of the worshipping place.
For flowers, make sure they are always fresh. Candles should also be the non-scented ones since some people may be sensitive to scented candles and may feel nauseous once inside the church.
We hope that these pointers can help enhance your church and make it a true spiritual haven. Many say though that the essence of the church is not the edifice itself but the community.
This is why churches are now designed towards a sense of community and better engagement. After all, the purpose of the church is for members to congregate.
This is not to say that decorating and beautifying the church is uncalled for – it is merely the icing on the cake. It could also serve as a metaphor for the enrichment of the soul – we beautify the physical church in as much as we are beautified within ourselves.