A House Becomes A Home When…

As I have discussed in recent posts, I believe that any space that is used for shelter can be considered a house.  You don’t have to own it, the size doesn’t really matter and it can serve as shelter for anyone.  Just ask my dear friend Kenny that I talk about in my recent article, Houseless Not Homeless.

Let’s assume for the moment though that the space is a house.

I have moved to many new houses, many new cities and many new states both growing up and as an adult.  What  has mattered most to me in each move was creating the homey feeling in the new house as soon as possible.

Nothing like a hobbyhorse to make you feel like you are home

Benjamin in Springfield, VA

Benjamin in Springfield, VA

Take the first move that my oldest son probably remembers.  We moved from Charlotte, NC to Northern VA.  My son, Benjamin’s most treasured thing was his hobbyhorse.  So, I made sure the movers put it last on the moving truck so that it came off first.  I can still remember him rocking on his hobbyhorse in the grass outside the front of the house while the rest of our household goods got moved in.  He rocked and rocked with not a care in the world for what was going on around him.  With the hobbyhorse there, Benjamin (and I) felt like home was right there.   All was right in the world!

Another example – David and I moved to the Chicago area two years ago.  We sold our home quickly and the new owners wanted to move in just as quickly.  So, we rented a house in order to take the time to decide where we wanted to live in the area.  We rented a brand new house from a woman that had built it as a speculative piece of property to sell.  Obviously with the housing market not doing so well she decided to rent it.  We became her tenants.  About two weeks after we moved in she came by to check on things. She said she had a wonderful vacuum and would be willing to regularly clean the house for me (for a fee of course).  I kindly declined her offer and was surprised that she was so offended by my rejection.

Her response to me when I declined her offer was, “Well, you know this is my house.  I know every inch of it and I would clean it thoroughly”.

I just smiled and said nothing.  But, what I was thinking was,

“This may be your house but it’s my home”.  You see what I mean?  A house is a house until you make it your unique homespace.  I had no desire for her (as my landlord) to regularly see how I live.  Not that I have anything to hide, it just didn’t appeal to me.

(By the way, two years later we are still renting.  The market still isn’t so good and we have actually found that this new chapter in our lives of renting is really fun.  We are footloose and fancy-free! Ask anyone that knows us!!)

What makes a house a home

When I knew I was planning to write a post about what makes a house become a home, I thought through many different directions I could take to discuss the topic.  After going on lots of different tangents, I realized the best way to express this belief was to ask others to collaborate.  So, I have asked friends and family members to give me their own version of what makes a house become a home.  I hope you enjoy reading some of their answers.  I also hope your own feelings about your homespace mirror much of what you will read.  Enjoy and feel free to share your version, too!

Susie Sale; Charlotte, NC
“Yes, everything does begin at home…that is where I regroup and find my strength. The flowers are lovely… looking at the petals on a flower make you see the beauty of God and what a wondrous person he really is.  How can anyone doubt him?”

Blair Kernodle Scheepers; Pretoria, South Africa
“All our treasure we’ve found around the globe.  From the African folk art we picked up in Cape Town to the birdhouse we bought in the North Carolina Mountains.  Each piece helps tell the story of us and makes our house a home.”

David Solganik; Westmont, IL
“A house becomes a home when the refrigerator is stocked.”

Beth Borum Ketchum; Portsmouth, VA
“When you first walk into the house you get a warm feeling.  The house just flows from one room to the other and the colors continue from one room to the other.  It is fresh and inviting.”

Lindsay Cannata Solganik; Cleveland, OH
We made our house our home by creating an environment fitting to our needs.  A place where can spend time together as a family, cook meals, create memories, and rejuvenate from the drains of daily living. Our goal was to create warm and inviting comfy spaces that are all extremely usable (including the living room and dining room!) We love to unwind together in the family and living room, cook yummy meals in the kitchen, and eat in the dining room! Our home has become our safe place - the place we retire to at the end of every day and week feeling comfortable, safe, and at peace.

The best of all

I think my daughter summed up her view of home perfectly in a recent phone call.  She called to tell me that she had completed one of her chores she had given herself on her “summer’s to do list”.  She had tackled the kitchen pantry- a chore she was dreading.   And, what a surprise she found!  Tucked way back on a shelf was a lunch box I had given her one year as an Advent gift (more on that tradition later).  It was a lunch box depicting the cast of The Wizard of Oz.  This movie was her all time favorite when she was growing up.  In fact, each morning when she woke up she would walk down the hall; thumb in her mouth, night-night trailing between her legs asking, “Watch ya-ha-ha please.”

Wizard of Oz lunchbox

Photo credit: Sammi Blake

That’s what she called the movie, as she was both scared and fascinated with the wicked witch!  Day after day she wanted to watch this movie.  Day after day she sat mesmerized.

Anyway, she had forgotten about this lunchbox as she had put it in the pantry to hold recipes in and well, like I said, it got forgotten.

When she rediscovered it during her cleaning craze, she was thrilled and decided to put it on one of the shelves in Ansley’s nursery.  Sammi told me that as she carried it up the stairs to the nursery, she turned it around and read,

“There’s no place like home.”

Things had come full circle for Sammi and me that day.  Her love of the movie (and my memories of Sammi all those years ago) was what inspired me to get the lunchbox.  Now she had her own daughter to share it with and as Sammi said to me,

“You know Mom, there really is no place like home”.

Yep, she’s right.