Layers of home

Floating around the home I am constantly aware of what it contains, where things go ,how I like them to look. I like to think that my home has a great purpose and great meaning to our family.

It’s easy to be inspired by the beautiful homes on Pinterest and Instagram. I know I get a lot of ideas for decorating from both of those places. But I am not blind to the fact that those are just simple photographs of one little viewpoint of the spaces. Behind those camera lenses are the layers that make those spaces a home with meaning and purpose. Or at least I like to think so.

Approaching our home you would find it is welcoming, colourful, calm and peaceful. If you look past the skateboards, bicycles, basketballs, and half way cleaned up front patio. The door is a beautiful colour called hale navy. We had the house painted and some renovation done last year. But when I come in the front door I can see that it needs a couple more coats this year. And the hardware needs to be freshened up as well. From a distance you can see neither of these things. We get a lot of compliments from the neighbours on the changes that we’ve made. Driving up to my home it makes me happy. Despite the things that need to be attended to.

When you enter into the front door we have a good size entry with space for everyone to gather and say hello. It has beautiful pieces of art and my thrifty finds. Even the closet doors received a special treatment. We turned bifold doors into French doors. Every time I open that closet I think what beautiful doors these are. But something underneath the paint is starting to bleed through after many years of use. So they need a touchup of paint. Not perfect but beautiful just the same. Pride myself on my thrifty fines. I love the eight dollar light fixture hanging in the entryway. Or the $10 cabinet that my husband fixed and I painted. He fixed it but there’s still some cracks. Don’t we all have some cracks? Whenever I buy something that has a little bit of broken I remind people that I’m a little broken too. So we make a good match.

When I walk into the entry I don’t just pass through on my way to something else but it stops me and welcomes me and tells me I’m home.

We have a split level home so there are many layers and a great flow. Our main living space the living room dining room and kitchen are on one floor and we filled it with layers of furniture, accessories, old things, new things, colourful things, neutrals. Every day and every week something changes in the space. Flowers come and go. The accessories change with the seasons or with my mood. In a time when people rarely use their living room we spend most of our time in our big living room every day.

The room is comfortable and again welcoming. There are comfy chairs, a big sectional, a soft carpet to sit on. It is definitely a come and sit down and relax room.

This home has the purpose of housing us, holding our belongings, being a place for us to gather and to rest our heads. But it also has great meaning to us. It’s the first home that we moved to when we started our family. Robert and I and the two boys moved in here together and started this great family home that previously had been lived in by an elderly couple. Things were closed off dark and cramped. We opened up the curtains and we knocked down the walls and we made this home ours.

As the children have grown our play room has seen many changes. From a gloomy 1970s paisley green carpet and brown walls to a bright cheerful room for the kids to play and then later turned into a hangout space for the older kids to watch movies, play video games with their friends and have sleepovers. Yes every room has purpose. But every room also has meaning to each of us.

Meaningful surroundings tell the story of your life through your home. Your collections, photographs, art. The permanent marker that a certain daughter used to decorate the bannister in the family room. The scratches in the hardwood floor in the dining room where fast growing boys sit and push themselves away from the table. Endless jobs left half done. Too many pillows piled around every restful surfaces. (The adult woman’s version of stuffed toys.) The beautiful fireplace that my husband got me after I earned money flipping furniture.

None of this is Pinterest worthy. But it’s part of our home’s history.

The best part of my home of course is my family. They are loud, messy, silly, talkative, they leave their socks lying around, they play the music too loud. They forget dishes in their rooms. They leave shaving cream on the bathroom counters. They have to be reminded about the garbage and the recycling. No one puts anything back in the fridge where it’s supposed to go.

After a long vacation everyone of us runs into the house to say hello. To marvel at what a beautiful place we live. We talk about how missed the house was. Because it’s not just a house it’s Home, it’s safety, it’s comfort and joy and filled with beautiful memories. And it has our smell.

Home doesn’t just happen. It has to evolve. You can’t buy home in a store, you can’t photograph home and put it on Pinterest. It takes time to create the layers. To create memories. To build the foundation of that first walk through the front door.

My favourite homes on Pinterest and Instagram are the ones where you can see the layers and the history. I imagine the stories that go with the collections and the artwork. I chuckle when I see too many pillows on the sofa. Because I know that obsession too well. Those perfectly placed pillows and blankets are great in the photographs but they never stay that way. Because the people that we live with want to sit in those places and use those blankets and when they put them back they don’t look perfect. And that’s OK. Because our rooms are supposed to be used. Lived in, loved.

The children are going to grow up and I don’t even want to think about them leaving. But I wonder what it will be like for them to walk out the front door knowing that they will be living in a new place. What will be their first act of meaning in their new home? Will they position the sofa? Will they put together their bed and hope that they have the comfort that they always have over here? Will they set up a computer and a place to work and to entertain themselves? What will they eat? And will that food make their new home smell like the home that they know?

I hope that all of the purpose and meaning that we have built in the home we are now is something that the children will take with them to their new homes. That they will try to create layers over time.

I envision packing boxes of treasures from here to move to there to help them start to build their own layers.

But the marker on the bannister and the scratches on the hardwood stay. Those are mine.

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