My home will never be featured on the pages of a magazine or lifestyle blog.
For most of our married life we have been a one-income, homeschooling family, and although my husband has a good job, money was always tight. We chose to spend the money we had on classes, enrichment and experiences for our children, rather than on home decorating or yard landscaping. Chip & Joanna Gaines we are not – neither of us particularly enjoy nor have any skill at home improvement, nor did we have the time when we were busy with all the activities that raising five kids includes. Our home was lived in, full of life, and got run down and worn out. We took care of the essentials and then made do so that our kids could play instruments in the band, compete on sports teams, go to summer camp, spend time with grandparents, and other more important things.
Our 3-bedroom ranch-style house and semi-wooded one-acre lot were functional but not necessarily beautiful. I embraced the shabby in “shabby chic”, with second-hand furniture and “homeschool decor” that included bookshelves in every room, plastic milk crates full of books and toys, and maps under a vinyl sheet on the kitchen table. Piling was my organization method of choice. Clutter abounded – you never knew when something would come in handy for a homeschool project or a younger sibling. The wallpaper was peeling, the carpet was stained and worn thin, the doorbell always stuck, the popcorn ceiling had water stains. The yard was mainly weeds and trees, with a dirt basketball court, rickety wooden deck and cracked concrete driveway. You get the idea. But we lived life here and it was always full with not only our kids and pets, but a slew of friends of various ages coming and going. The food was plentiful, there was always an extra seat at the table, and a couch if someone needed to stay the night.
Now my children are grown and living on their own. There is less clutter and chaos here, but I still organize by piles, and the long-developed habits of not making the house a priority haven’t changed. But I have started looking at my house through new eyes. I’m mentally preparing a list of some big projects, while starting to make small additions and changes with an eye towards comfort and welcome.
My grown children fortunately live close enough to visit often if they want to.
I want them to want to!
I want them to come back home for special occasions and everyday occasions, Sunday dinners and summer cookouts, just because our home is a special place to be. This makes me look at my surroundings with different eyes. Is my home comfortable? Welcoming? Are visits to my house relaxing and fun? Are there plenty of places to sit and enough cups and dishes for a crowd? Do I panic when someone stops by unannounced? Is the bathroom always “ready for company”?
I love the Danish concept of “hygge”, which generally encompasses coziness and quiet comfort. It is what I think of when I think of my home being a “refuge”. I want it to be a cozy, happy, comfortable, welcoming place for anyone who enters. So I’ve started with some new rugs and pillows, electric candles, fluffy towels, framed family photos, more plants, plenty of light, good smells, toys and games, comfy chairs, an open door. We’ve cut some trees and planted some grass. Created a fire pit. There are some really big projects to come – like a new deck and screen porch, remodeled bathrooms and kitchen.
I want my home to not just be the house they remember growing up in, but a refuge they look forward to coming back to as often as they can.