For a period in my life, I read a ridiculous amount of home design blogs. They were mostly geared toward lifestyles similar to mine (apartment-living, urban, rental, small spaces). But then I had a baby; I moved across states; I changed jobs. I lost my fascination with design blogs about stylish apartments.
But I’m still drawn to some of the styles of those places, even if I live in a traditional, two-story suburban house. I like bright colors, weird art, open shelving, and funky vintage pieces.
We’ve been in our current house for about a year and a half, and it’s only felt like our space in the last few months. The old, blue carpet in the bedrooms has been ripped out; the vintage, floral wallpaper has been stripped. Now the floors are light hardwood, and the walls are painted in neutral white and grays. Art collected over several years hangs throughout the walls and halls, along with family pictures and vacation photos.
But more than that, we have a house where my husband and my son “camp out” in the living room for Friday night movies, where we make messy breakfasts on the weekends, where my son’s feet pitter-patter to our room in the mornings.
I like a house with a messy soul: crumbs from baked goods in the cracks of my chairs; red finger-paint smears on the walls of my basement stairs; piles of books on the cracked, roll-top desk my grandfather got in exchange for bartering an old Volkswagen (according to family legend).
I don’t need gleaming, white marble counters; plush, creamy rugs over wide planks of hardwood; ecru leather couches with beige throw pillows; ivory desks with shiny curios from trendy boutiques.
My son and I read books with my name scribbled inside by my much-younger hand, and our armchair is very comfortable for snuggling, even if the cat has scratched its arms to bits. No one will be taking a virtual tour of my living room for decor inspiration.
I want art that brings me joy, because I know the hands that painted it and I know the faces smiling at me from family photos.
I have a bedside table stacked high with books, waiting for me to read them. My laptop follows me from couch to kitchen table, where I putter on the internet, write blog posts, and read news stories. My husband has a desk surrounded by nerd memorabilia and computer equipment. My son crashes trains in the living room, eats his snacks at a low table often smeared with juice, and he runs in literal circles before demanding to wrestle with his dad.
This mess is mine. This history is ours. This house has a soul, and it is on display for the world to see. It is imperfect and messy, but it is full of love radiating in all directions from the people inside it.
This is home.
In the next few weeks, we’re asking some friends to share their answers to one question: What makes a house feel like a home?
If you’d like to contribute, email firstname.lastname@example.org.