Lessons from hindsight: Making a house a home.

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl and they fell in love and got married and lived…. in a total of 8 different spaces by the time they had their 5 year wedding anniversary.

After now 8 years of marriage, two kids later, and a great variety of living arrangements, our idea of home has had plenty of opportunities to evolve. What is the purpose of a home? Is it simply the place where you sleep at night? Or make your egg sandwiches in the morning? Or does it become a home when there are family photos on the wall and sunflowers from the farmers market on your table? 

 

Can I tell you my struggle? Well at least let you in on one of them? I am a perfectionist. Being a first-born with a type A personality I just want everything perfect. All the time. Yeah.. so that doesn't always fit in with, well, actual LIFE. Haha. It makes me laugh just writing it. Throw that disposition in with the transient, wandering life we lived our foundational years of marriage and you have a dangerous cocktail of perpetual discontentment. Segue into the Pinterest era and things just get considerably more bleak. All the wonderful inspiration and limited resources one girl could have. 

The way I express myself is though creating and designing. So to have a living space that I can invest in with designing, paint color, furniture, decor is like a pallet of expression for me. You guys get it. You're on a design blog. I am hopefully speaking your language with that. 

I am reflecting right now on a time when I was 7 months pregnant with my first baby. Nesting instincts were in full swing. At the time we were house sitting for some friends who moved overseas. We were tirelessly searching for a place to live before they returned and before our baby came ‘earth-side’. Dead-ends everywhere. I sent my friend an email letting her know that our baby room was in the works and I planned to rearrange her husband’s study room to make it my multipurpose nursery. He would be totally fine with that right? *smirk*.

I felt home-less. I would go through bouts of anxiety because all I wanted to do was make a space that my family could rest in. All the while, I think I was missing the point. Hindsight is 20/20 right?

 

Its like when God calls Abraham of the old testament to take his family and leave their home and just GO. Where? He didn't specify. Already I’m uncomfortable. Abraham had his questions and concerns about the whole ordeal but ultimately, he trusted. I am not sure if he realized at the time what the outcome of that circumstance and his willingness to be homeless would be. But because of that, an entire nation was created and actually still exists today. He left a legacy… 

I realize it is kind of dramatic to compare the two situations. But at the time, I identified. I was 7 months pregnant OKAY?! I look back on that situation and realize we could have rested. We could have trusted. There is a time and season for everything and even though I couldn't fully express my need to create, and design, and nest, "home" still existed and was something I could cultivate even if only just in my heart and mind. Rest, peace, and trust that God was working all things together because His eyes never stopped seeing my growing family.

So. All that being said, I guess it would be fitting to offer up some practical things that I personally have come to over these years when it comes to designing a home for its intended purpose. 

A home is the place where you do “life” with those close to you and find rest.

Listen to the other people sharing your space. My husband has great taste-it just took me a while to actually trust his taste. Its a good feeling when we have something in the home that he really enjoys. Its his space too. We consult on big purchases and when we are refiguring a space. MOST of the time we end up coming up with a beautiful mixture of what I love and what he loves. 

 

Artwork by Chelsea Garter at chelseamichalgarter.com

Artwork by Chelsea Garter at chelseamichalgarter.com

Sometimes things just have to get practical. Lets be real for a sec. Having an open countertop with a kitchen aid mixer gracing the corner is ideal but not always practical. Balance your space with practicality-be real with yourself about what works and what doesn't. Our busy mornings go smoother when I just embrace the fact that my huge bulk jar of peanut butter stays in sight and our assorted vitamins are also counter top accessories. I have a tray that just has our morning essentials and it never goes in the cupboard. Not always beautiful but we actually live in our house too. 

Evaluate each piece. Is it serving you and the others living with you? Does it add to the aesthetics AND flow of the way you use the space? If not, don't hang on to something  that doesn't work out of fear that you'll never have what you love. Sell it or bless someone else with it and wait for your “perfect-for-you” replacement. 

BE PATIENT. Most of us don't have the resources to fully design and style an entire house all at once. Like life, it is a process. Be okay with it as it changes and morphs and you add to it. And be okay with everyone always coming to your house saying “You changed things around AGAIN?!” :) 

Remember your end goal. If you have anxiety about your home not looking exactly as you want step back for a moment. Remember that a true home, no matter how aesthetically beautiful, at the end of the day is where you and your loved ones can connect, grow relationally, and find rest. If your ‘inspiration’ is getting in the way of that don't feel bad. Just know it may be time to let it breathe for a moment. Go ride a bike or something. Im serious. 

Have fun. Everyone is different. And so are their homes. If you like the way something looks that completely goes against every design rule in the book, do it anyway. If you walk into the room and its a place you can enjoy yourself, you have it right. 

Have you been on the journey of making a house into a home? What things have you learned along the way?

Blog post by contributing blogger Erin Weatherhead