What is home? What exactly transforms a building into a home? More specifically, what makes it home for me? It’s been said that one man’s castle is another man’s cave, so your vision of home may differ significantly from mine.
In any event, homes are as individual as the people who inhabit them. Several defining factors, however, appear to be universally important.
A group of homeowners was asked what makes a house a home. Of those surveyed, 57 percent felt happiness makes the difference. Another 50 percent believed it was safety and security, while 44 percent said it was the sound of laughter.
I think you’ll agree these are basic desires of humanity. Without them, a house cannot become home in the truest sense. These primal elements are enough, even a luxury, for many people around the world. Those of us who live in privilege, however, often demand more. We worry about how our home looks but the way it makes us feel is, in fact, much more important.
Kara O’Reilly sums it up in her article How to Make a House a Home. “While the property you live in might be far from your ideal, even design experts agree that making a house a feel-good space is not about it being worthy of an interiors magazine, but ensuring it reflects who we are and how we live our lives.”
With that in mind, I decided to write down a list of the things I felt were necessary to make a house a home for myself and my family. I happened to be reading Marla Dee’s book Get Organized the Clear and Simple Way right then, and several of the exercises offered in the book also helped me map out this vision of home.
MY VISION OF HOME
We choose what our homes reflect and cultivate. I want mine to be a laboratory where I discover what best nurtures my family, a school for a new generation of strong Christians, and a place where we nurture dreams and lovingly curate all the splendid things of life.
I want it to reflect personal interests and bring reminders of joyful moments, not as a museum or a shrine of the past, but as a conservatory of our Christian heritage and all that is good and life-giving. Home should be an attractive place without being prideful or merely ornamental. God is the author of beauty, and I believe He delights when we intentionally share it with those around us in whichever ways come naturally for us.
I want my home to exude love – a love that we recognize, in part, by the feeling of comfort that accompanies it. This comfort is not found in expensive furnishings or effort-saving appliances. Rather, it comes from being fully loved and accepted, from understanding my worth and exercising my talents, from finding joy and fulfillment.
Home is one of the best places to worship God. I want a home that reflects His daily presence, a home with Bible verses and framed hymns on the walls. Most importantly, I want those within, especially myself, to radiate the peace He gives.
Home spells safety and security: a place where we are safe from the vice around us and free to be our truest selves. It is a refuge from the pressures of a hectic, demanding world. Part of what attracts us home is the comfortable but not-so-pretty side of it.
Each of us needs a place where we can ‘just be’ – a refuge that fully welcomes who we are in this moment. When I’m exhausted, home is the place I can drop everything and not feel judged. When I’m feeling creative, I can make a mess. When I’m happy, I have a haven to share with others and when I’m sad, I can surround myself with the people and things that comfort me.
An important aspect of home I tend to take for granted is its everyday rhythms. I tire of the ceaseless, humble monotony accompanying their upkeep: clean sheets, a place for keys, socks and frying pans, the frig and pantry – well-stocked with familiar foods, simple family meals eaten around a hastily set table.
The things that surround me are comfortable and familiar: the plates I eat out of, the cup I grab, the worn chair, the location of light switches, the time it takes for hot water to arrive after opening a tap. None of these seem particularly note-worthy yet they spell home.
Home means different things at different times, from Saturday casual to Sunday best. It runs the gamut from toast and egg suppers to holiday feasts, from toddler cereal thrown out of the high chair to Sunday roasts served on china and crystal. We eat burgers in the backyard around a crackling fire and throw lavish birthday parties around handsomely bedecked tables.
Sometimes I long for a magazine-worthy house that is picture-perfect, always clean, always tidy. Home, however, is not merely a storage building for items I find attractive. It is a garden for our happiest memories and richest relationships.
Someday I may be old and live in a perpetually tidy house but long for the bustling days of yore. So instead of perfect, I will aim for reasonably clean and clutter-free, for child-friendly organization and mild but merry chaos.
I will also aim to create a feast for the senses. Rooms are enhanced by flickering firelight, greenery and flowers, crisp whites and warm woods. They are filled with tantalizing smells from homemade dinners, baking bread and scents of pine, lilacs, and roses in turn. There are delightful tastes of homegrown veggies, fresh cookies, and apple pie.
It is a place of rest where those within can relax, nestled among fluffy blankets and soft pillows in cozy well-lit corners. The music of my home is the everyday sounds of laughter and happy chatter, punctuated by comfortable silences or even occasional arguments.
I long for a cozy home, characterized by stereotypical farmhouses: rich in history, loaded with charm and full of the quiet pleasures of nature. I yearn for the simple country life typified by handmade quilts, simple comforts, rustic wood, country accents, the rhythms of passing seasons.
Paradoxically, I am also drawn to the quixotic beauty of French Victorian homes, refined elements, symmetry, and romance as well as interiors with a more modern vibe. I hope my home can somehow strike a happy balance between these themes, a marriage of homey and elegant, creative and tidy.
My home must welcome imagination. Art, creativity, travel, books, poems, and stories are important to me. There will be places to organize and display my children’s creations. There will be meaningful artwork and mementos scattered throughout my home. The tools for creativity will be readily available, despite the disorder it typically involves. Books will fill the rooms, always available to pore over, share, display and discuss.
Last but not least, I want my home to be a haven for others. I want to provide a shelter of rich hospitality to all who enter. Though our abode may be humble in many respects, I hope guests can feel at home here and sense God’s love through our modest offerings. I hope the spirit of caring and kindness we practice in our home will instill a sense of servanthood in my children.
These are my wishes for home. I know I won’t always reach my high ideals but I will give it my best because a vibrant Christian home is one of the greatest gifts I can give God, myself, my family and my community.
Your turn: What are some things you’d include in your vision for home?