Tuesday, 10 November 2015

ms-havachat - what makes a house a home?

MissM asked me a few weeks ago, how do I make a house our home.

What an interesting question!

What a mature observation.

There is a HUGE difference between a house and a home, and what you can do if you own your own home or are renting.  Of course there's so much more to a house/home than the material things, and different cultures have their own definition of the word, but deep down in all of us, we want our home to be representative of us, to be a safe haven, to be 'ours'.

As constant renters, moving every few years, it's something we do automatically. We have our criteria for house hunting which we provide the relocation company or real estate agents, we look at what's available (hopefully there's a choice, but not often) and make a decision.

It's curious MissM asked the question. She's had a new home every couple of years. For some, that might be rather unnerving, but she's settled and happy and fine everywhere we've lived.

We are always excited to move in, and get the Adventure started!

MrsW and her family moved here the same time we did; I popped over with coffee and cake the day their international shipment arrived. They had thousands of boxes (I exaggerate, but they had a LOT).  I was excited to visit yesterday to see how everything fitted (and to snoop at her stuff). She welcome me with a huge smile and the words "WELCOME TO MY HOME, it's no longer just a house".

Those words resonated with me all day and into the evening, so much so it's time to chat about it.

How do we/I make a house our home?

What goes into making it FEEL like ours?

How do we remove the people who were here before us, in their 'home'?

If only it was that easy !

Here's what we do. It's a combination of our own experiences and what I've observed/heard from others.

Delivery Day:

  • Unpack boxes directly into cupboards where possible, limiting times on 'flat surfaces'
  • Remove empty boxes as quickly as possible (flat pack them for easy removal)
    • Keep some for storing items you might not need in this particular house
    • Keep some for storing items that might end up in a garage or boot sale/or need to be taken to a charity shop
  • Flatten and fold white wrapping paper 
    • Donate to local school for art projects
    • Keep some for your kids for art projects
    • Recycle rest
  • Flatten and fold bubble wrap
    • Keep some for the next move!
    • Great to have on hand for gift wrapping
THEN ..................
  • Get the internet connected!
  • Get the TV connected and working!
  • Learn how to use the kitchen and laundry appliances.
  • Work out the light switches.
  • Make the beds.
  • In order of importance, get the rooms sorted
    • Kitchen/dining
    • Bedrooms
    • Laundry/Utility room
    • Home Office
    • Lounge/sitting rooms
  • At the same time as the above is happening, keep the following rooms neat and tidy
    • Garage
    • Attic/basement

All of the above happens within the first week or so, at least in our house it does, or has. We're a bit slower this move.

Next, we turn to making the house your HOME. This takes time, and varies move to move, so be kind to yourself and breathe, you'll get there, we all do :)

  • Make a list of the new items of furniture you might need (not every place you rent has what you need in terms of storage)
    • Think about your ideas for a week or so before rushing off any buying the pieces you might regret. 
    • Know which direction the sun rises/sets in terms of the amount of light/heat that might come into the room/s
    • Recognise the way the family enters the house - thru garage, front door, back/side door.
      • where's the heavy foot traffic?
      • where do school bags tend to be dumped?
    • Take measurements with you so you know the items will fit where you need them to go.
      • Obvious, but .........
  • Go to Ikea. I don't work for them, they have no idea I'm even chatting about them, but every expat knows, Ikea is great for cost effective, attractive, storage ideas. 
    • Check measurements before purchasing
  • Build Ikea and put stuff away. 
  • Put up artwork on the walls!
    • Invest in a variety of 3M wall hangers. They are easy to put  up and don't leave any marks on the walls. 
    • Check the weight of what you are hanging as 3M hooks come in a variety of hanging strengths.
    • Check the attachments on the artwork, posters etc to know what type of hook will be best i.e. wire? rope? hook? 
    • Count how many 3M packs you need of each
      • it's super annoying to be in the middle of hanging stuff up and run out!
  • If you have rugs or carpets, get them out and into position.
  • Pop some fresh flowers into vases. 

It takes a few weeks to find the 'flow' of the rooms, where you live as a SAHM as opposed to when the whole family is home. So breath and let things happen naturally.

We're slowing turning our house into our HOME, like MrsW has accomplished already, and as we have done several times before, and will do again. (Slow, deep sigh)

About half our paintings are hung. We're still deciding on where to put the remaining ones.

We've been to Ikea, and have built 2 desks (home office is on it's way to being done, but sharing the one room with G and MissM might be tricky). Still have to get cork boards and a white board and maybe even a book case - but there's time to think about that.

Our new Ikea kitchen storage solution is on order and I am excited to know that in a few weeks ALL the remaining boxes will be emptied and I will be able to find everything, all the time.

Our bedrooms are done.

The living room is (nearly) there.

After spending time in Sydney and visiting friends who have renovated, or are renovating, I'm sad and a bit jealous that we'll never be in the position to choose the colour of our walls, or design our kitchen, or invest in the perfect chair for the corner of the lounge room as MrsD has done (love the chair she chose too).

Are you wondering what I told MissM when she asked me, how do I make a house our home? I told her it's simple - being together, with our memories around us, friends visiting, making new memories (and having enough storage space so that things can go away and rooms can be neat'n'tidy)

We are only a matter of weeks away from feeling like we can open our front door to friends and say HI! Welcome to our home.

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