“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” L. Frank Baum “Wizard of Oz”
A house is four walls and a roof. It provides some of our most basic human needs: It keeps out the weather and provides shelter. It is hoped that this physical structure can also provide more of the human needs that help us to continue in emotional and psychological health!
Home to me is a refuge, a retreat; a place of shelter, comfort, friendship and warmth. It is a place we make; a place where we have the agency to create and change our environment. Home is a place of hospitality, of hope, of humility and strength. It is a place where one can be restored and refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated. It is a place where we can read, reflect, relax together, and be creative.
In the last year we have faced what felt and still feels like a daunting task: to take a brand-new house and seek to make it our first home; builder’s grade kitchen and all! We are incredibly grateful for the blessing it is to be able to begin our marriage in our own home, but we are a little bit overwhelmed by the blank slate in front of us. In the case of the backyard, quite literally level bare dirt.
But whether you’ve lived in your home for 30 years or are newlyweds like us, I’d be surprised if you haven’t pondered the question: What makes a house a home?
Is it as Sarah Dessen says?:
“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
The conflation of the physical and the philosophical is easy to make at this point, and altogether comfortable. But like anything in life, I would caution against this conflation of home as a place imbued with experiences and feeling, and home as an abstract concept bound up in the relationships with those we love, without this being a conscious realisation.
Is Robin Hobb right?
“Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there any more.” ― Robin Hobb, “Fool’s Fate”
If Hobb is right then it can be argued that place and the time, effort, and money poured into those walls and floors and textiles are money down the drain.
Notwithstanding the role of the people within the house and their contributions toward making home, I would like to propose that the four walls, and floor, and what you put in them does matter — it isn’t the be all and end all, but they do matter.
Our builder and his team put many hours of labour into building this house, our first home, and a fine home it is too; but is also a cookie cutter house and we are eager to make it our very own. By the standards of the local area, it is quite small. Although, I hesitate to call any house with a 2 car garage, 3 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms, small. At the same time though, the 1200 square footage offers us the opportunity to try some things in a small space. We are excited by the prospect that in trying some ways to put our own stamp on this home, we will be able to do so without straining the budget too much and in adding value.
This day is about pondering what makes you feel like you are home?
Is is the winding footpath leading to the front door? the daffodils or jonquils in Spring?
Is it the ornate property name in the front gate? or the off kilter mail box that was blown up by cherry bombs about 15 years ago?
Is it the bright front door that welcomes you? Or the sound of your little dauschound or big albino german shepard greeting you?
Is it the sound of the garage closing behind you? or the smell of the jacarandas?
Is it the sight of a particular book or piece of furniture that you’ve dragged around the world and back with you?
Maybe you want to create a journal to trace our journey together over the next 31 days.
Or maybe begin by art journalling a couple of pages exploring what home means to you? Maybe something like these…
While a house is just bricks and mortar, homes are places where memories are made, families are grown, and dreams are dreamed. A Home is made, and built, just as a house is. I have a strong sense that the way your home invites others to ‘just be’ reflects the importance of the value of home as a place of peace, hope, and joy. We will talk more tomorrow about what is is that you and I are looking to create, make, and nurture in the homes we are making. Home is a place where tears can fall, where hugs are offered and received, where raucous laughter rings out. Home is a refuge and a sanctuary, a retreat and base from which to venture outward into our communities and world.
Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.
Anna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born writer and photographer. She is proudly Team Rabe. Recently married, she and her husband love to cook together using fresh ingredients. More recipes can be found at Food: Nourish. You can follow her adventure on Not A Pedestrian Life, or Facebook. Quotidian Home is a place of comfort from which to show hospitality, of joining with friends for food, fun, laughter, and tears.
This is Day 1 of 31 days to Making a House a Home. The Introductory post is here.
This is the first 31 days series published on Quotidian Home.