Home is, finally, where the heart is

Last night, in keeping with one of my resolutions for the year, instead of watching TV, cleaning (!) or surfing the net, I pulled out a book and decided to spend a couple of hours reading.  I’d forgotten how much I really loved it, and have a sneaky feeling I’m going to hit my “book a month” goal easily!  But while I lay there on the sofa, I took the opportunity to actually look around my living room.  And I pondered the question: what impression do people get when they come to visit? What does this space say about me?

Growing up, my parents always decorated beautifully.  Harmonious colour combinations, and funky Ikea bookcases mixed in with some beautiful mahogany furniture; huge art prints in gorgeous frames, ornaments and sculptures collected from various world travels, and room renovations like you wouldn’t believe.  Seriously – I remember them knocking down walls to make an enormous bathroom, with cork flooring, snazzy oversized tiles on the walls, textured wallpaper and corner cupboards (and a bathtub) with wood stained the deepest of turquoises.  I loved living somewhere with so much thought put into its presentation; when I moved out, I was perturbed by the fact that I had absolutely zero in the way of decorations, or even standard possessions.

I didn’t have anything.  I didn’t have a TV, anywhere to store DVDs or CDs, a proper sofa or even a bed, and I certainly didn’t have much to hang on the walls.  I moved out a poor student, and continued through a series of rather sparse-looking apartments with some really rubbish flatmates into a poor working adult.  So I’ve never really been able to afford nice stuff. I remember apartment-hopping, living off inherited furniture from friends/past flatmates, buying crockery and cutlery at the dollar store, and taping posters to the wall because I couldn’t afford frames. Home is where the heart is, as they say, and what does mine say about me?

Allow me to invite you round for a proverbial cup of tea.  One year ago, I was frantically struggling to get out of a lease and find somewhere I could afford by myself.  I was sick of cohabitation dramatics, and Sweet and I had only been together 7 months, so I didn’t think we’d be moving in together.  I was tearing my hair out trying to find a place that wasn’t a complete hole/potential murder scene that would actually be affordable, when the unthinkable happened.

Sweet said we could move in together. We ran around in the snow of a new year, and found something amazing.  A full, two-storey house with new appliances, flooring, paint and windows in a really good location.  It was $100 more than I was paying for my tiny little apartment.  There had to be a catch.  We went one very cold day to the open house, and it was beyond wonderful.  A family of 4 had been living there before, and were relocating somewhere bigger with their new baby, but filled our questing heads with promises of low bills, nice neighbours, and a great landlord.  We had to apply, so we did, but didn’t get our hopes up.  I was making $25k and he was new to teaching – and subbing at the time.  It didn’t exactly scream stability.  I spent the next week looking elsewhere, sure we wouldn’t be picked over more affluent, settled, nicer and more secure applicants.   But we were picked over more secure applicants – I got the phone call while my best friend and I were scouring the local charity shop for new outfits (because we’re hip that way), and I remember screaming and RUNNING at her down the shoe aisle.  We hugged and jumped around like crazy people, and within the week, Sweet and I were moved in.

Once I had the keys, I remember taking the bus just to visit my beautiful new (empty) house every day until moving day.  I was going to be in a house, with the person I loved, with no crazy roommates who’d steal my things, break my doors, or leave piles of my dishes moulding in their bedrooms for weeks on end while they sat there not showering.  This was perfect.  And I wanted to make it look perfect, this time, too.  It was a new chapter in my life, and for the first time, I had somewhere I could call my home.  I wanted it to represent us.  And though we still can’t paint – we’ve managed to decorate enough that I’m perfectly content with what we have.

When you come into our house, I’d like to think it’s welcoming.  It’s very open-concept, and the living room bleeds into the kitchen, which in turn dissipates into the computer area under the stairs.  Everything is so open we can play music off the computer, and have the whole lower level bathed in song.  Throughout downstairs there are little things that tie in to my love for Ireland, a love that’s been in existence ever since I visited two years ago.  There’s a framed poster of a beautiful page from the Book of Kells, little lightswitch coverings of celtic knotwork, and photos I took of Dublin’s architecture going up the stairs.  We have several faux trees, covered in fairy lights, and our main wallspace is taken up by a series of black and white framed photographs of those we love, surrounding a large, framed landscape of the London skyline at dusk. There is a bookcase, whose shelves are buckling with the cramming of too many books piled inside, and perhaps too many candles and photos on top. We have a small, old television but a giant, comfy sectional sofa – I hope this says how small a role TV plays in our lives, and how large good company.

Upstairs we have two bedrooms; one, mostly for storage (and the cat), and the main bedroom, for us.  We invested in a lovely ornate wrought iron bedframe (around which are entwined more fairy lights, which we use instead of a lamp), and the comfiest mattress we could find.  We have a dresser, upon whose mirror are tacked photographs and notes, from each other, and from family.  We have a large, heavily framed Moulin Rouge poster of the couple embracing, directly above the head of the bed, and various photographs of our favourite times surrounding.  There’s a nerdy wall covered in steampunk drawings of Doctor Who villains, and an unfalteringly large pile of clean washing on the floor.  We both have better things to do than fold laundry, and as long as the rest of the house is clean, we don’t mind.  This bedroom reflects love.

I went back to my book, happy at the thought that finally, I have a home.  Somewhere I enjoy being in, and somewhere that reflects the lives and hearts of those who live inside.  Somewhere interesting, warm, and inviting – somewhere I’m really looking forward to being cooped up in for winter, keeping so many of the resolutions I made for this year.

What does your home say about you?

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55 comments

  1. I can’t wait to have a place I call home and feel is my home. I’ve been living in my town house with first two roommates and now just one, and it’s never really felt like home. So much so, that I’ve never bothered to hang anything on the walls or frame any photos. I move in a couple weeks and am hoping this changes…

  2. Your home is definitely cozy! I love thinking about space like this, but I’m with you, as far as having the funds to properly decorate it’s hard.

    I like to think that our house says a lot about us. It’s small & old fashioned, like me, but it’s fully wired with our computers and TV because Jesse’s a big tech geek. It’s full of art that we’ve inherited from family and pictures that I’ve taken from our life. It leads right outside into the backyard, which suits my nature loving self. It’s full of little corners and odd angles and history, warm colours and functional choices. It’s shabby and comfortable, and inviting.

    I hope =)

    1. Oh your house is the perfect reflection of both of you, and I love it to pieces. I love that you have a craft room (because I haven’t known anyone other than my nan to have a room designated solely to crafts, and hers was the Knitting Room – 2 wall to wall knitting machines and cupboards full of more wool and yarn you could ever dream of 🙂

  3. Of all the places I’ve lived so far, my apartment in NYC with 2 roommates definitely feels like home. It’s funny, though, because my last 2 places were almost completely furnished with MY furniture. Dining table, couch, dishes, pots and pans. Everything. But here, it’s mostly my roommates stuff, with my stuff just in my room (the couch is in storage – my room isn’t THAT big). I suppose it’s just that I’m more comfortable there then I was at my last places. Even though the place doesn’t really represent ME physically, I like being there. I liked my last place, too, actually, my roommate was kinda off standoffish and hardly talked to me the last 6 months I was there. It was like living alone, which I don’t necessarily like. So having roommates I like is important to me.

    Yay for your home! It sounds nice. 🙂

    1. Thank you! Yes, decent roomies are a must and this was my last straw after a string of awful ones! I’m jealous of your NYC apartment living – it sounds so hip 🙂

  4. Our place is filled to the brim with mementos of our lives and our pre-cohabitation possessions. Pictures of travels and adventures fill the walls, plants cover every possible sun-reaching surface, and as much as we’re “less is more” people at heart, it’s cozy in its clutter.

    We were daydreaming looking at home listings last night. Someday I’d like a real yard (and garden) rather than just planting veggies and herbs in my windowsill!

    1. Your place sounds delightful. I love having stuff everywhere as reminders of good times and good company, memories… I *tried* having plants, but I ended up killing them off with too much love (water). I love greenery but I’m sticking to the fake stuff for now 🙂

      And trust me this is the first time I’ve ever had a garden – and it’s more of a pain in the arse than anything else! Nobody ever taught me how to MOW!

  5. Your house sounds absolutely wonderful!

    I’m madly in love with my apartment because I only have to share it with my mini dachshund Waldi. The only furniture I purchased was my huge comfy bed that I never leave voluntarily. The rest of my apartment are hand-me-downs or thrifted and I wouldn’t want it any other way. My walls are covered with black and white pictures I took or things off Etsy. It just feels like home whenever I walk through the door.

    1. Oh it sounds just perfect – I only ever lived alone for about 6 months just me and my cat, and even though it was a crummy apartment, it was just me and catface and I LOVED it that way.

      Now I want a mini daschund. 🙂 Pictures please!

  6. Strangely, my bedroom is kind of a clone of my office that just happens to have a bed in it. And my rehearsal studio is like my bedroom, only with more musical equipment.

    And it occurs to me I don’t have a place I feel I call home.

    But here’s where I am right in line with this post:

    Home IS where you put your heart — and when I think about how I can go anywhere and do anything as long as I’m with my friends, then home is in people.

    1. That’s really neat to hear such a different perspective, and I love it. It’s kind of how I felt about Christmas – I spent a while being upset about not having a “traditional” family Christmas before I realised it was about how I define “family”, and that was in the people who came into my life by choice, not whose I was born into by chance. I think the same thing can definitely apply to how you define “home” and I love that yours is in people. 🙂

  7. My apartment is actually pretty nicely decorated due to hand-me-down furniture from my parents that is still pretty nice.

    It was PERFECT when Eric was here – the perfect size for us, cozy but… now that he’s gone it’s just too big. I’m looking forward to moving into a much cozier, and hopefully homier, 1-bedroom apartment this spring.

    1. I’m excited for you! I remember moving into my first one-bedroom place solo, just me and the cat. It wasn’t the nicest of apartments but it was really cozy – and score on the furniture! 🙂 I can’t wait to see pics of your new place.

  8. I have yet to have a “home” to settle into. I’m still in a wandering phase, wanting to go teach overseas and explore some more. This is my time to grow more, before I make a home 🙂

    1. I wish I’d had the chance to do that – I LOVE travelling, but before I met David I made some bad life decisions and got myself into a situation where it just wasn’t possible. One day – maybe *after* I’ve done all the grown up stuff, and kids have moved out – I can go on old person adventures 🙂

      I hope you can still blog from overseas!

  9. I think we all make that move to wanting our living space to really feel like a home. I went through that process when I bought my first condo. I made a pact with myself that I would start replacing all my framed posters with art. Real art. The pact involved buying one piece of art each year. That was seven years ago and now I like to think we have a nice (and growing!) collection of art in our home. Some of it is cheap, some not so much. But, the idea is no more posters. It makes me feel like a grown-up. But, each piece also serves as a reminder of something important to me. I love it.

  10. Right now? Our home is a work in progress…and honestly, we are too.

    We have all sorts of wonderful things, but since we just moved, all of it is hidden, and misplaced and boxed. Slowly, but surely, these good things are getting uncovered and displayed. We’re easing into our house, just like we’re easing into marriage and adulthood.

    1. Oh I made it sound like I didn’t still have 20 unpacked boxes in the mud room and vast amounts of missing things, didn’t I? 🙂 The good thing about procrastinating with unpacking (which I’m the queen of) is that the longer you leave something unpacked, the more of a wonderful surprise it is when it’s actually uncovered 🙂

  11. I also have a huge pile of clean washing on the floor…. : /
    but these days, i’ve rid myself of most of my possesions and have little the way of clothes, what does that say about me?? that i’m prepared to pack up and move on at a moments notice? that I take no pride in my things? …. Truth is, I’d always associated possesions with being happy… something along those lines, But now … I have no where to call home, except the road, after all if i’ve got no idea where I want to be the road will take me where it thinks i should go…

    But you Emily Jane… you seem to know where you want to be, you certainly know where your heart lies… I’d love to see it, it sounds so lovely and homely, quite warm infact!!

    1. I love this. My boss was talking to me the other day and was telling me about how a friend of the family’s dad had passed away, and they were in the process of boxing up all his stuff, clearing out the house, selling/giving away possessions… and it just goes to show, no matter how many wonderful possessions you might acquire in a lifetime, it’s all going to be left behind anyway. So when I see someone without a tonne of possessions, I don’t think they don’t take pride in their things – I see them taking pride in more important things in life; experiences, journeys, the stuff you’re going to be able to look back on 50 years from now and remember living – not just something you bought without any story or meaning behind it. 🙂

      And I would love to have you over!! You’ll have to come and visit me sometime. But not in winter.

  12. I love Ireland too! I swear, every time I read your blog I find something more we have in common 🙂

    Your home sounds lovely. I’m so glad you and Sweet have the perfect space to share.

    My home is a tiny little condo (the housing situation is ridiculous in BC) so it looks very cramped. We have a lot of gadgety stuff because my husband is a tech nerd. I have too many books and framed photographs so I definitely contribute to the clutter. Plus we have two maniacal puppies so our place feels very cramped most days. I love it, though.

  13. Yay!! Have you ever been? If I died and went to heaven, I guarantee it’ll be somewhere Irish 🙂

    I’ve dragged my heaps of books and piles of nerdy things around with me for six years now so I know how it feels to be cramped! But I’m glad you love it – it sounds like the best combination of two worlds ever, and being cramped with books, tech geekery and puppies sounds pretty awesome to me 🙂

    1. Yes, have you? I spent a week tramping through the southwest (Ring of Kerry, Dingle, and all that.) It was the best week of my life (it was also the week that I decided to marry Shawn … only he didn’t know it yet.)
      We were supposed to go this year for our belated honeymoon but it looks like it will likely happen in 2011. I can’t wait to go back 🙂

  14. It’s funny that you write this because we were just talking about how our home feels homey now more than it ever has. I remember when we first got married and moved into our townhouse, it was like we were just pretending at playing house. I have always loved our house but it didn’t feel like a home exactly. Now, I think that we have Jordan, we have toys all over and artwork on the fridge it just feels so good. We also got our floors done over the summer and it feels so different to have these beautiful floors compared to the crummy carpeting we had before. It just feels more like it reflects our style now.

    I had a candle burning in our room the other day and it made the room seem really cozy. I was sitting on the bed and knitting. I love that being in our bedroom makes me feel so at peace. It makes a difference to have a home that makes you feel at home!

    1. Great minds think alike 🙂 I always used to have crummy carpets before too! This is the first time we’ve ever had nice floors. And you’re right – little things like stuff all over the fridge (ours is a gravity-defying battlefield!) and doing things by candlelight instead of fluorescents can make the WORLD of difference!

  15. When I married my husband 4 months ago it was the first time either of us had ever had a house to ourselves, where we weren’t living with family or housemates. We. Love. It.

    The kitchen is definitely the best decorated part of our home – a reflection of where we enjoy spending the most of our time, no doubt.

    Our bedroom is a huge loft room and my husband encouraged me to turn half of it into my art studio. I never had room for an art table before, anywhere I had lived, so it was kind of a dream come true for me to be able to just leave my art stuff out all over the place.

    But our living room, I think, says the most about us. We couldn’t afford bookshelves when we moved in so we just stacked books along the walls where ever the wasn’t any furniture. We’ve since decided we love the feeling of being surrounded by piles of books and don’t plan on getting bookshelves anytime soon.

    Really though, I think the most important thing to us is to have a home – a place that is our own – a place we can invite friends over to – and a quiet place to cuddle when we get snowed in.

  16. Mine says, “Vacuum.” No but really, I wish my home better reflected us but until we’re out of school debt, it’ll be a bit until we’re filling it to the brim with completely “us” pieces — but I’ve been meaning to document the process in which we slowly update our first little place!

    1. LOL I know how you feel – this is the first time I’ve ever actually been (financially) (kind of) able to buy things – and I usually get them whenever AllPosters.com has sales and I inherited a bunch of frames from my dad. Michaels has ones for $30 though as opposed to $300 which do me just fine, and there’s a lot of dollar store stuff here and there. Fake ivy makes anything look classier than it actually is, too – and lots of candles (also $1!). All I can say is thank goodness for fake hardwoods because I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had carpets again – my vacuum is broken, and we never got along anyway!

  17. Your home is lovely! Thanks for sharing pictures with us. I think my home is a pretty accurate reflection of who I am as a person. I love my living room/dining room area. I have oak laminate flooring (looks like hardwood), khaki colored walls, a fire place, and sort of army green couches (sounds ugly but they look quite nice). It’s cozy and inviting. My bedroom leaves a bit to be desired since it has ugly carpeting, but I hung some Paris prints up this fall & it looks way better now!

  18. Your home looks so incredibly warm and cozy. I love that you wove lights around your bed frame and use that instead of a lamp. I love surrounding myself with things that I love, pictures and mementos of friends, etc. My mirror in my bedroom is sort of reminiscent of yours — pictures of friends, fortunes from chinese fortune cookies, notes from my little cousins.

    1. Aw thanks. I’m thinking of stocking up on strings of lights now Christmas is over because we have them everywhere and you can’t buy them any other time of year!

  19. Aren’t cozy homes the best!? I love the lights on your bed frame. We did the same but around our entertainment center. I’m such a homebody (it’s pathetic sometimes) and I love it when my house is cozy & relaxing!

  20. hi!

    i came here through luxe chandelier. i really like your blog! i’ll be adding you to my blogroll.

    ps- your house is so cute! i can’t wait to see more pictures.

    -e

  21. Your home looks very cozy and I adore cozy homes. I believe that our apartment is starting to feel more like home with each day we live there. However, we are most likely moving again in the near future (That’s the Army!). The constant moving makes it difficult to decorate and create new things in our apartment. But we are trying our best.

    1. Aww thank you. I bet that can be difficult. I’ve gone through a lot of knick knacks because I’ve moved a fair bit too and some things just didn’t make all the transitions… but I think as long as I kept the same photos and prints up it would feel like home 🙂

  22. Wow! I love your home and I’ve never even been in it! It is definitely wonderful to be able to create your own space, a place where you feel comfortable being at the end of every day.

    I get you though! I live in a two bedroom apartment that isn’t huge but it’s not tiny. It’s not brand new but it isn’t extremely old either. There’s nothing particularly special about it, to the untrained eye. But for me, it’s the first place I’ve really been able to call “home” since I moved out of my parents place when I was 18. And because of this, I adore it. There is love there, and I feel it every time I enter the doors.

    The decorating is a bit lacking though…something I intend to remedy this year. When funds are low, decorating is something I always put on the back burner. I don’t know why I do that? My mom is a crazy decorator, she’s so insanely good at it, and her and my dad are always remodeling a different part of the house. So it’s got to be in my genes, somewhere! At any rate I think our place is cozy, even if the walls are a bit bare!

    Thanks for inviting us into your home for a little visit! 🙂

    1. Decorating is always bottom of my priority list too when it comes to budgeting!! There’s this one shop in our city that’s kind of a home super centre and it has amazing, beautiful stuff for ridiculously cheap -beautiful ornate photo frames for $4 cheap! – I must make more of an effort to go, but it’s at the other end of the city and it’s *cold* here on the bus 🙂 Thanks for coming for tea!

  23. I love that you put “fairy lights,” on the bed frame. I think I might have to do that to mine as it makes it so much more fun.

    Well I don’t live in my own place right now but room is a combo of chic + girlieness. I think anyway. I have books and picture frames. Adult furniture. Black and white photos. Original artwork. When I am living by myself I have a fabulous red couch that is just the coolest thing ever (really!) and some great kitchen furniture & decor. And now I miss my having my own apartment!

    1. Awwww sorry!! I want to see pics of the couch, it sounds lovely! And I just realised that’s the second time I’ve been called on “fairy” something, last time it was fairy cakes and nobody knew what I meant 🙂

  24. You have a beautiful place… (btw, I LOVE the Ikea (?) bedframe… I want it, but they don’t sell it anymore :()
    I know it takes some time to make a place feel like home, but it looks like you’re finally there!

    1. Thanks!! It was actually a cheap bedframe from JYSK.ca; I’d had a four-poster from there before and it lasted forever but it was too small for the mattress we decided to buy. I miss it though – it had lights *all* the way around the top, with flowy, see-through cream “curtains” on all sides too – but it was a bit too “princessy” for Sweet lol so we went with something slightly less feminine. I still love it though 🙂

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