Monday, April 14, 2014

Home, to me

I’m feeling a bit nostalgic lately, so bear with me today. :) I’m coming up on two big anniversaries of sorts – by next month I will be blogging for SIX years. Crazy. And next week it will be ten years that we’ve owned our home. I can’t even believe it. Ten years and six months ago this is what it looked like:

Having my child, marrying my husband and building our house – three of the most exciting times in my life. :)

So every once and awhile I think about what I do, this blogging about houses thing, and I wonder how important it is in the scheme of life. As you can imagine it can feel materialistic at times, because decorating is often about STUFF. Adding stuff, moving stuff, spray painting stuff.

Does all of that matter? No. But I’ve realized over my years of writing about our home and others that your home and how you feel in it absolutely does. It’s nothing compared to our health, well being and family, but to me home means SO much.

I say this a lot but I mean it with every fiber of my being – your home should be your haven. It should be the one place where you feel safe. Our homes are so much more than buildings and the stuff we buy to fill them up. I think people often confuse a love of houses with a love of things. It’s not that at all, at least not for me.

My first apartment out of college.

Sure, the things are fun. (Have you been to HomeGoods??) But it’s the act of fluffing and adding and tweaking that makes me even happier.

The fact that we’ve lived her for ten years is mind-boggling to me. Truly. Before this home the longest I had lived in the same home/apartment/dorm was two years. Well, I take that back – we lived in an apartment before this house for four years. But before that for my 24 years of life I moved at least every two years.

Our first apartment. I dragged that tree up the stairs by myself.

I didn’t mind it as a kid – I’m sure I did at the time but I don’t remember it. The only time I was sad about leaving a house was when we left this farmhouse. And when I was older and had deeper roots and closer friends I wasn’t changing schools when we moved, just houses.

I have no desire to leave this house. It makes me tear up at the thought of it. It makes me wildly happy that my son has been raised her since day one -- that’s how my husband grew up and the thought of it was so foreign to me. There’s nothing wrong with moving a lot – you gain a special set of life skills from it. But if I could choose I’d want my kiddo to live here till he leaves for college. :)

My dorm room for two years. Cat posters rule.

I have a deep connection to our home for many reasons – because everything about houses is a passion of mine, obviously. I could watch, read and breathe house stuff all. day. long. But it’s because home feels like a part of our family to me. It’s the joy of having a home base. That is so easily taken for granted! 

I went through a time of about eight months (that I touched on here) when “home” was my dorm, motel rooms and my best friend’s house. That stays with you forever. There were a few times in my childhood when things hit bottom and my mom was struggling to get back up – one of those time we lived in our friend’s basement. My mom, sister and I lived in their basement (we used a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom) for a year.

As a kid it wasn’t a big deal. It’s only now that I look back and feel sadness for those times. Sadness because I now know my mom wanted so much for us at the time. But I’m also grateful, I don’t wish any moment of my life away.

Our duplex after after the basement.

This little walk down memory lane is just to say that I think our homes matter. Sometimes working on them can feel trivial, but my goodness – it’s not. Home is everything. Home is what you make it. Home doesn’t have to be perfect – making it what you want is the JOY of it! Even if it takes you 30 years to get it the way you want, how lucky are you? So lucky.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be talking about a few things “home” – my thoughts and recommendations on building a house, what I would do differently and the same and reflecting on some of my favorite rooms over the ten years in our home. Lots and before and after pics – my favorite!

Thanks for letting me look back today. :)

30 comments:

  1. This was a really lovely post! I really relate. I also moved around a lot as a kid - about every 4 years, but always to a new town which required changing schools. I think all that moving fueled a lot of my obsession with everything home, and also my desire to have my kids grow up in one place. Right now we live in a condo with our two kids, so someday we hope to have a bigger house, but it will be in the same school district and I hope to only move the one time in their childhood!

    Happy house-a-versary. We just celebrated our eighth anniversary in our home. I look forward to reading your posts over the next few weeks. :)

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  2. Great post Sarah. So very true too. I have become such a homebody over the years, and really love being home more than anywhere else. I still have fond memories of childhood homes (although when we go back and revisit them, they're so much smaller than I remember them being as a kid!). Our first home that my husband and I bought is now in foreclosure, and it makes me so sad to drive by and see it in its current state. We put so much time, effort and love into that house, and it's where we brought our first two children home. Kind of crazy that I contemplate buying it and fixing it up, isn't it? ;-)

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  3. This is such a lovely post! Our house is really the first space I've gotten to make a home. My bedroom growing up reflected my mom a little more than me, and college was just a poster mess. I absolutely love having a space to make my own at our house. Makes me feel cozy and comfortable. :)

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  4. I agree with you 100%. Thank you for all these years of sharing your home with the world and all the love and compassion you put into it. You inspire and encourage so many with your amazing ideas. Cheers to another six years :)

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  5. Great post - love it! My husband has been struggling with his family and how they take things for granted. He often wishes he could have more and that we should be living "higher" than we do now. Being 32 with a two year old and one on the way, I'm very content in my home that's all ours (we've been here 5 years). How many people have that? I read all the posts you linked to in this post and even took a picture of your second-to-last paragraph on my phone so I can show my husband later. You're so right - a home is what you make it, not just having all the stuff. Thank you, I'm sure this will lift my husband's spirits!!!

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  6. Aw, this is so great! Thank you for posting! We are in the process of designing and building our first home...it won't be large and grand by any stretch - however, it will be lovely, well treasured and added to in the years to come! But for now we love living in our rented 1920's farm house! :)

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  7. I love this Sarah! I can so relate. I moved more than 12 times before marrying my hubby and settling down. Like you never stayed in one home more than 2-3 years. Didn't change schools much, just homes and neighborhoods. My hubby grew up in the house his 96 year old mother still lives in. We are in our 2nd home since marrying, but have been here for 21 (22 in May) years. I could imagine living anywhere else. It is about having a safe place, security, love, making memories...so not about the stuff. I think that is why I sometimes have issues with home blogs. The constant changing of things, mostly material, we certainly don't need kinda things all for the sake of another post. I am past that point. I learned the hard way...that "stuff" usually ends up in a yard sale or at Goodwill for someone else to enjoy...because is was really needed, necessary, loved, had meaning. I would rather have the time (learned that too the hard way, my girls are now pretty much on their own full time). Time is something you can't get back. I am looking forward to the rest of your posts. I love that you always keep things real and in perspective.

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  8. Thank you so much for this. It is exactly how I feel about a home, and our home. I haven't moved much in my life, neither has my husband, but we have such a strong sense and appreciation for the house we've had for almost five years. Although we love our little house, this isn't where we want to stay so I know a move is down the line but we are so excited for it. I can't wait to make another home. It really isn't about the "stuff" at all, couldn't have put it better!

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  9. My mom and I were just talking about this subject over the weekend. We understand that it is "materialistic" but at the end of the day, the mood and level of comfort we've created means so much. I want everyone who enters my house to know they are in a safe environment filled with love! Thank you for doing what you do!

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  10. I lived in my childhood home from birth until I got married when I was 20 years old. I'm 34 now but since my mom knew the buyers we've been inside a few times since and I've even taken my kids. When Miranda Lambert's song "The house that built me" was released it resonated with me so much and I'll always love that little house on 13th Street in downtown Indy! In fact, we just took our kids by the house they were born into this past weekend...so sweet to think of all the firsts they did in that house! I became a mother in that house...thanks for your thought provoking post on houses because to me a house will always be about the memories made inside rather than the paint colors, the revolving décor or the never-ending to-do list:)
    MelanieL

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  11. It is always good to look back and remember the good and the bad times. We have owned this house since 1984 and we bought it from my parents so it has been my home for a very, very long time. We both retired last year and are now fixing up this house to sell and move to another state. Although it is hard because I grew up here, it is necessary so my husband and I will have some financial security and some money to just have a good time. It is good to think of the past but it is good to look to the future too.

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  12. Love Love this post! You are so right about home needing to be a haven. Safe havens come in all sizes, colors and designs....it's the feel of the family that makes a home. My hubs and I have our current and first home for 19 years....it was tiny so we grew it, but it is the feel of the house that keeps us here. Our son is 18,, getting ready to leave, but we want to stay here awhile so he has a place to land. We know when we leave this home for a smaller retirement home that the new house will be a haven as well; we have learned great lessons along the way. Thank you for all of your tips, thoughts and inspirations. Love your blog and happy birthday!

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  13. Oh Sarah I couldn't agree more and I so enjoyed reading your post. When we bought this house it was going to be our "transition" home but as we started putting our own mark on it, it was growing on us more and more. Here we are 18 years later and every room now tells a story. I feel blessed that our kids were able to grow up in this house. Thanks for sharing your story with us!
    Marie @ The Interior Frugalista

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  14. I think it's so great that you have all those old photos. And how amazing that you're living the life you missed out on, through your son. I grew up in one house and my mom is still there, which is CRAZY to think about. Especially when my own kids are there playing with things I used to play with. I dream of moving to bigger and better, but the house we're in is the only one our kids have ever known. It would be SO hard to leave it.

    We must have been on the same wavelength...I just did a post last week looking back at the 12 years we've been in our house and how far we've come. And how it's so much more than a house. It's our home. I hate leaving links in the comments, but in case you want to walk down my memory lane, here ya go: http://rindymae.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-yard-12-years-in-making.html

    Great post, thanks for sharing. I second the sister selfie. :)

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  15. Curious :) did you ever contact Laura Langebartels re: your farmhouse?

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  18. Sarah, I just have to thank you for such a wonderful blog. I found you through Pinterest and now check you blog every week! I grew up in the same home throughout my whole childhood and only moved once into an apartment for a year before I bought my current house with my husband (three streets from my childhood home where my parents still live). My husband on the other hand, bounced around a lot and never stayed in one place too long until they moved to the States from Canada. Maybe that's in part why I try so hard to make our home feel like Ours, to feel like I did as a child. And maybe why he seems ho hum about my DIY projects until they're done and he loves them lol. Such wonderful insight you've given us. You're home is absolutely beautiful, as a young newly wed couple in our first home, I am loving watching you change your home and giving us some ideas of our own. Thanks again!! :)

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  19. I just want to say that you have a lovely spirit. Your home is pretty, but your spirit is BEAUTIFUL, Sarah. And that's what counts, right? :) Thank you for your post--I needed that this dreary morning as I rush to get this "disaster house" in order. It's not a chore, but an honor to get things in order for my family.

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  20. I loved this post. I completely agree that your home is more that just stuff. I have always loved fluffing my nest with accessories and paint/wallpaper etc. To me your home is where you build the memories hopefully mostly good and hopefully the bad at the time can be look back on with either humor or learning! We moved to our current house 9 mos ago. Our pest control technician came yesterday and said "Wow! Y'all moved in and made this place great! It is so homey and cozy and smells good too. This is a great house" What a compliment...huh? That is what I want everyone who comes to my home to feel... Welcomed.....

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  21. A fabulous post. I feel the same way about home. It's an important place to invest your time and talents, even if you have very little money to go along with them.

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  22. Thanks for sharing (your home, your life, and this post). Having a one year old who stays home making messes all day, I sometimes look around and miss the clean, orderly house we lived in 'before', but now it's a home, and there's no where else I'd rather spend my days.

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  23. Wow I am reading this and crying. Because my life was very similar. I moved around every two years, lived in an apartment, campground, had a room and basement in my grandmother's house growing up. My stuff was in storage for most of my high school life. It wasn't until I met my husband that I lived somewhere for more than 3 years, when we bought our first house. Then between selling that house and building our current one, our life was turned upside down and we'd had 5 different addresses in one year. My husband grew up in the same house almost his entire life, and just didn't understand my need for creating a beautiful home until that year. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  24. Sarah, I have lived in my home for 25 years in June. I sometimes wish I could move ( I can but haven't). I think how exciting it would be to get to decorate a new place, I've rearranged the furniture here every way that it can be. But then I remember I was married in my entry way and I brought my 2 babies home to this house when they were born and they stood outside of our Crepe Myrtle tree for first day of school pictures and this house and yard was filled with laughter from children who lived nearby. How can I leave that? I absolutely love to decorate my home but it isn't what I love about my home it's the memories, the love that has been shared in this home. Also, I had the privileged of traveling to Africa last summer. Most everyone lived in a straw hut in the village I went to. I was amazed at how beautiful their homes were. Every morning someone in the home was responsible for raking the dirt around their home to make a beautiful pattern and they had landscaped around their place. You could tell they had pride in their homes. I think that is innate it us.

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  25. I couldn't have said it better myself. I was just thinking today about how much I love my home. It might not be the most expensive (probably one of the least expensive homes in the area), but I love it because I have put my stamp on it that I don't see in other homes. It doesn't matter how expensive the items are that you put into it, it only matters how it makes you feel. I get antsy and want to move once in a while, but I just can't do it. This house means too much to me and my family.

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  26. Beautiful post on the meaning of home! I was raised in the same house for the better part of my growing years. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, my son had to move a few times as we changed apartments. However, there was a greater plan :) My son and I built our home with Habitat for Humanity and he was able to know that safe place..the one he now rears his son in. And it's my safe zone.

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  27. I reminisce my childhood in your post. I remember my mom when we rented a cheap moving company in toronto which went pretty well when we moved.

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If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here! Be sure to check out the FAQs tab at the top of the site and my Projects page for paint colors and DIY projects as well.

THANKS so much for reading!