When does a house become a home?
This is a question I've been asking myself a lot recently. At the moment travelling between our two properties, our rented one in Berkshire and our bought 'forever home' in North Wales we feel a little bit caught between two houses, or is it two homes. I honestly don't know how more well off folk that actually own two homes manage long term, I guess you get into a routine and have lots of duplicated items so that both properties feel like 'home'.
For me I need one base, one home that both we and our animals love to be in and I am looking forward to this being the one we are in forever. The decorating is almost finished, we still have the kitchen to paint although all the prep work was done last weekend so this week we will be actually getting the paint on the walls, then we will get round to doing the hall and stairs and then finally, the conservatory, which is where we are currently storing all the paint and DIY necessities needed as you tackle a whole house at once.
As each room has been finished we have been bringing our possessions from 'home' to fill it and make it ours. Sometimes it still feels a bit 'showhousey'. Too neat and tidy, too organised and slightly unused, but I'm hoping this will change. I don't want, nor have I ever had, a house that looks perfect, a house where children can't touch things or animals can't wander from room to room, although I did draw the line at the chickens roaming through the house when they started shaking the soil from their dust bathing all over my kitchen floor :-/
I love it when you can read a persons or a couples characters from their home, their rooms and their belongings, when you can stand and browse a friends bookcase and smile at their choice of books, coveting those you have always wanted or thinking 'snap' when your tastes are just so similar and you realise just why they are your friends and you love them so much.
I actually think that soon it will start to feel like home, the more we add to it the more familiar it feels, the more I want to be there and I am really looking forward to the day in the not too distant future when we will.
I had an email question about the display that I have put above the bookcase in the living room, saying it looked identical to how it looked at our current address - well spotted. It is almost identical there is just one new addition. Each time we move or have a truly memorable occasion one more item gets added to it, I guess now it is almost complete.
So here is our life in pictures, the things are numbered in the photo above.
1. My 'Where's Mum' limited edition print bought when I bought my first ever home of my own after my divorce. A tiny kitten in an almost empty room looking for her Mum.
2. A carved wooden Gecko, almost the same as the one tattooed on my arm, I had the tattoo done to celebrate my freedom the day after the divorce came through, hence it's nickname Freddy Freedom. This wooden copy was bought for me by Lovely Hubby on a trip to a Christmas Market the year we got engaged when I realised I didn't need to be alone to experience freedom .... I could share it with my soulmate.
3. A tinplate picture 'Le Chat Noir' that we bought on our first trip to Paris, it brings back memories of walking hand in hand through the streets of the most romantic capital in the world. Early morning coffees sitting outside little coffee shops and bistros, and seeing the Eiffel Tower perfectly lit on a Saturday night from our hotel window.
4. The advert we placed in farming magazines and newspapers when we decided that we were going to live our dream and start our new life in the country while we were young enough to enjoy it and build it up instead of waiting until we had both retired..
5. One of a limited edition range of framed photographs that I used to sell in my little shop, that I simply had to have for us when I sold up ready to begin our new lives. It is taken by one of the most talented landscape photographers I know - my brother. It reminds me every time I look at it of happy times in the Cumbria and reminds me of Graham.
6. A Welsh Love Spoon bought by us during our two weeks of decorating our new house on a day out we had to Carnarvon to relax a bit in the middle of all the chaos. We had lunch in a warm and cosy restaurant and then a mooch around the shops. Welsh Love spoons are composed of different symbols and the one we chose has two hearts and a keyhole, which symbolise love and home.
On the top of the bookcase lives 'Mother' our Christmas Cacti passed down to us from my lovely Mum in Law, it was her Mum's before that so how old she is I really can't work out, but she flowers at the most unexpected times and burst into bloom just after Jessie died and she came to live with us, a sign we took that it was meant to be.
Now that these are all in the places where they will stay, it really is feeling a lot more like our little Welsh house is edging forward in the 'home' stakes and our cute little rented bungalow is merely full of things waiting to go home.
So in my opinion, in answer to my own question ... 'when does a house become a home?'
When you fill it with yourselves, your love, your memories and your hopes and dreams for the future.