If you were to come into my house – which I would love, by the way…let’s have a cuppa sometime, mkay? – you would find an eclectic mix of decor. You’ll find items, fabrics, photos and more from the myriad of places in which we’ve lived, visited and been on holiday. It’s the outward expression of our nomadic lifestyle.
We have been married just over thirteen years, and for just over eleven of those we have lived a lo-ng distance from the home of our roots. For someone like me, who is somewhat challenged in the art of homemaking, it has been a challenge to build a home with my husband that feels like home. I’m not naturally gifted in home decor, organization or cooking. Anyone else?
Living away from the town and state where we both grew up, we’ve had to build our own traditions, find what makes home feel like home to us, and is easy to either transport or duplicate. It’s been an on-going experiment but we’ve finally found a few things that have helped us in building our home…away from home.
1. Take it with you. Decide what the non-negotioalbes are for your family: what things from your native home must you have to make it feel like home? Be honest, but also realize you can’t take it all. For us, this includes wedding photos, special Christmas ornaments, a few keepsakes from the kids’ infancy, and a couple of native-to-Arizona-only trinkets or food items.
2. Adopt the new. Whether you’re in your new location for six months, or for the foreseeable future, fall in love with your new culture (and, yes, even if you’re just at the other end of the state it has a new culture). Get out there and explore the art, music and food. Find a few items to have in your home that represents your new home, that represent all the things you love about the place. This helps on the days when all you can see are the things you don’t love! In our house you’ll find a lariat Christmas ornament from Texas, Welsh love spoons hanging on the wall, and Irish music on the playlist. Oh, and a pot of tea brewing nearly round the clock.
3. Make it work for you. Don’t let Pintrest dictate what your home should be like. Make the decor, arrangement, smells and sounds work to suit your family. Do you like bright colors and rockin’ tunes? Go for it! Is your family more into muted colors, soft music and candles? Awesome! Take the time to get to know yourself and your family culture so you can use your home to accentuate the strengths found there, and foster the things you want to encourage. (e.x., does your home need to be a quiet refuge for your husband after a hard day at work? Or a lively hangout for the neighborhood kids so you can be the hands and feet of Christ for them?) Do you miss having your immediately family around? Work to build community with your neighbors co-workers, etc and invite them to share in your lives!
4. Don’t be afraid to ask his opinion. I spent several years thinking my husband didn’t care what the home decor was (as long as it didn’t look like a garden full of lace threw up in our living room, ha!). It turns out, he has some really great ideas on how to not only make our home look great, but help it run more efficiently in the day to day! So don’t be afraid to ask your hubby what he thinks or wants – after all, it’s his home, too! Have kiddos at home? Get their input, too! Particularly when it comes to their own spaces. You’d be surprised at how insightful they can be!
5. It’s all about the attitude. Most importantly, no matter if you have designer furniture or thrift-store finds, if you cultivate an attitude, atmosphere and culture of love, respect, honor and service in your home the rest will fall into place. A home decorated to perfection but lacking in love will still feel cold, sterile and uninviting. Spend the biggest portion of your energies pouring into the heart and spiritual health of your home and you can’t go wrong. Bathe the house in prayer, pray together, love and serve one another.
So there you have it, my top 5 tips for making a home away from home.
Do you live away from your birthplace? What things help make it home to you?