Often, when you visit someone they tell you to ‘make yourself at home’. By this I guess they mean: sit back, relax, get comfortable, be at ease, enjoy the surroundings, feel welcome, enjoy the available comforts such as warmth, light, good food, good cheer.
But how often do you feel those things in your own home?
Sometimes, our homes feel like 3D ‘to-do’ lists with cleaning, maintenance, tidying, decluttering and decorating required everywhere we look. Our homes can start to bring us down and make us feel we are not on top of things, not good enough, failing in some way.
It is easy to feel that our homes are not as stylish, pretty, smart, big, clean, or well-equipped as we would like. We see pictures in catalogues of perfect rooms with glossy wooden floors, roaring fires, mix and match floral crockery, well-placed coffee pots, bunting, cushions, barbecues–the works. Our homes, when compared with those, simply do not match up.
I suggest that we look at our homes in a different way. They are the place where so many things have happened and so much of our lives has been lived. Relationships have been nurtured in our homes, children may have been raised up in them, joyous occasions have been celebrated have. They have held us through grief, joy, pain and elation. We should not battle against them for their physical imperfections and mess, we should love them for their embracing arms and shelter.
Our home can be our best friend, the true kind of friend who doesn’t care about the latest fashion or gossip, but who is solid, all embracing and there whenever you need them.
Nurtured and nurturing
There are various dictionary definitions of home, but one I particularly like is ‘the place where something flourishes’. Our homes should be a place where we feel nurtured, where we can go to recharge our batteries, relax, be in good company, be most completely ourselves. They should be places where we feel safe to explore our feelings, to try new things, to be creative and spontaneous, to dance and sing, free from the risk of judgement. Here we can let go of the need to put on a brave face and put our best for forward. Here we can laugh, cry, meditate, create, shout, sing or just be quiet—whatever we want to do is okay. This is the place where we can nurture others too. Listening to our friends and family, feeding others, taking care of children, pets and plants.
Supported and supportive
Creating a home that looks like a spread from a catalogue misses out on what makes a home unique to us. We can choose to create a home where we really do feel ‘at home’. One that reflects our interests and values but above all is supportive to our dreams. A house like this would contain the things that we love and that inspire us. It would also be a place where those that support us can make themselves at home. It is the place where we can be with our ‘tribe’ the people that believe in us and love us just the way we are. The added bonus is that these people don’t care about the cracked tile, the peeling paint or the dust bunnies under the dresser.
Our homes should also reflect our values rather than just following fashion. If we care about the environment we should choose quality products wherever possible that are made from sustainable materials and are built to last. Up-cycling furniture, china and fabrics is another great way to lessen our environmental impact while also making a unique stamp on our homes.
The choice of what we have in our homes can support others as well as ourselves. Every item we purchase supports someone—whether it is big businesses, local businesses, co-operatives, craftspeople or artists and we can choose to support the world and its inhabitants in the best way we can.
Creative and created
This doesn’t mean our homes cannot be gorgeous—I believe we should make them as attractive as we possibly can as well as functional, comfortable and useful. It’s just that we need to take a look at what a beautiful home would look like to us. Creating a home to suit us can be a creative and enjoyable process, but it requires us to look beyond the conventional and past perfectionism to discover what we would truly delight us. The journey to find out what makes your heart sing when you open your front door is an exciting one. It doesn’t matter what the magazines say is in or out of fashion, go for quality rather than quality, your own style rather than the latest fad, quirky and cluttered or clean and minimalist its up to you—and those you share your house with—to decide. Creativity can be allowed free rein here. Whether you want to create a piece of artwork, change the colour scheme or just arrange a selection of meaningful objects on a shelf—allow your true self to shine through.
Joyful and joy-giving
Most of us share our homes with others and we all know that living together isn’t always easy—there will be tensions, arguments and differences of opinion. But coming home to a gloomy house with a tense atmosphere is torture—so try to keep your home a happy place wherever possible. This might mean caring less about how tidy it is or making sure everyone has their own space at times. Lighten the mood with uplifting music, scents and candles. Add comfortable throws and cushions, green plants and flowers—anything that makes your home a pleasant place to be will help to nurture the relationships that take place within its walls.
Try to have a small place that is just for you where you can be completely at ease. If you are lucky enough to have a spare room or office that you can claim, then make this space as uplifting as you possibly can. Fill it with your favourite belongings: books, music, items you have created or others have created for you. If this isn’t possible you can at least lock yourself in the bathroom for half an hour a day and have your ‘me-time’ there.
Please don’t let this article make you feel like you have to rush off and do everything I have suggested. I don’t want to add to your already crowded schedule. But next time you see a beautiful plant, buy it and bring it home. Next time you are fed up with the mess and clutter—clear off a windowsill and place something you love there. When you have the urge to create something, do it, and display it with pride in your home, your very own space in the world.