At the time I am writing this, I moved yesterday. I bought a fixer-upper and had the renovations done before moving in. I’ve always loved the idea of a fixer-upper and I really enjoyed this process. I had a chance to make my house my own.
If my count is correct, this is my 21st home. I grew up in the military and that nomadic lifestyle lends to calling a lot of places “home”, but not putting down firm roots. What felt like roots were the homes where my grandmother, aunt, and cousins lived. Those were houses we visited on vacation and holidays and were a constant when so many other facets of my life were full of change. My grandmother’s house in particular was one that held special significance.
It was an old home with tall ceilings and huge bedrooms. My dad grew up there and it is where we stayed whenever we came to town to visit. It creaked and groaned and smelled old, but it was warm and full of family and Sunday dinners. The fireplace in the living room had a mantle with a mirror built in. It was one of many unique architectural features I hadn’t seen I other houses.
There is one house I can go to (legally) and recall childhood memories of being there. Others have been sold, except for my grandmothers. It burned to the ground. It happened after my grandmother had passed away and we had already sold it, but the heartbreak of knowing that once-beautiful home was gone still lingers.
I’d been looking for a house to renovate and was told about this one in the spring. The owner showed me through it, and when I walked in the first thing I noticed was the fireplace. The mantle had a mirror built in. There were other aspects that I liked, but the fact that there was a small piece of my childhood here is what sold me.
The renovation process was a rare opportunity for me. I could make this house mine. I could incorporate a feeling I wanted it to have and elements from other places where I’ve lived. My home is personal and deliberate. I would visit it each week to see the transformation take place and learn about my home as it was being created. I wrote scripture on a beam. I got to know every nook and cranny of this place long before I spent the first night here.
And yet, with all of the planning and despite my fingerprints being on this house, it doesn’t quite feel like home. I still feel like a visitor here.
Home is natural and comfortable and I am still trying to remember where the aluminum foil goes. Home is where you unconsciously drop your keys and toss your mail when you arrive from work. Home is where you aren’t surrounded by cardboard and bare walls that create an echo.
The transformation from a house to a home takes time. My cousin, a fellow nomad, said “I always watch for the morning when I wake up and a bit later realize I didn’t think about my new home as a new home”. This will become my new normal soon and I look forward to the days when I go about my life and don’t have to think about what switches go to which lights.
Making a house into a home takes more than a great construction and design team. It involves making it a space of retreat, peace, rest. A place that provides comfort and feels comfortable. It saddens me that some have homes that are scary, dangerous, and have a sense of dread that engulfs you as you enter. That home is a place to escape from, not escape to. If I could make it so, every home would be where love lives.
Image: Inspire LS Images