What makes a house a home?

I walked from room to
room, smelling the air around me – mostly stale and humid (the house not having been opened for a while) with a hint of paint, as they were just beginning the painting job. The staircase handrail and steps were already covered with thick plastic
sheets to protect them from the invasion of white. I walked very carefully, to avoid
tipping over any of the stray pots of paint lying around. I was in Zurich,
visiting our new future home.

Armed with the floor plan, as I was naming each room
– the kids’ rooms, the guest room, my office –, I tried to imagine what every one
would look like. More important, I wanted to visualise what we would be like in them. This is not something
I’m good at – imagining the future appearance of currently empty spaces. I envy people who know exactly what they want, where they want it and
what the outcome will look like. Fully aware of my deficiency, I just wanted to
get a sense of whether this new place could feel like home.
What would it need to
feel like home?
It may sound superficial
to focus on the physical dimension when home can be so much more, but I believe
that the physical and emotional dimensions of home are closely connected. What
makes a house (or an apartment) a home? Some of it is already there – though
each of us may see it differently. Each space, each room has its vibe; it may
come from the light, the walls or a certain spaciousness or cosiness. Some
rooms are more inspiring than others – and what is inspiring for me may be
indifferent for someone else. For example, I entered our new living room and
could immediately (despite my deficiency) imagine myself in it, lounging around reading with my kids,
listening to music, or sharing meals with friends.
We can try to create some (or a
lot) of that vibe, as I wrote in a previous post. The problem is, it doesn’t
always work. Going around this house and figuring out how I feel about it made
me realise that I am missing that sense of comfort and homeliness in my current
place. I don’t feel comfortable and relaxed. I don’t have a favourite chair or
a favourite corner. I don’t invite many people over (even though I absolutely love
doing that) because I don’t feel that the space is welcoming.
I don’t think it is a
matter of spaciousness. I know families whose homes are smaller, yet
feel more welcoming to me. In fact, our new place is not significantly bigger
than the current one (though it has a garden!). It could be the amount of stuff that has accumulated and sometimes suffocates me. Or it could be that I did
not take the time to create that home when we moved in; I had a new-born and a
toddler to keep me busy or it just was not as important at the time. It was
more a matter of convenience, rearranging what was available, not paying
attention to detail. Maybe I saw this home as temporary – like the ones before
it; still with the mind-set of a student. Maybe I never made the
transition from student to grown-up home J. I’d like to do things differently this time.

Do you feel
comfortable in your current home? What makes a difference for you?


  1. Anonymous

    Be patient: you can't pretend to feel at home in just a few weeks/visits. It will come in due time and once the vibe is there…don't wait too long and invite me! 😉

  2. Anonymous

    Funnily enough I feel the same as you and this is the fourth home I've been in since I've been married-
    I dont know whether it is because we both rent houses or it is our mind set- Personnally, I have no time to sit and ponder on how to make things homely-

    I admire people who think hard to create an atmosphere of coziness at home- I think that I am still immature (at my age!) and I spend zero time making my place homely- I love to invite people over and I feel embarassed about how plain my place is!

    But my mindset at the moment is not on coziness: I would much rather spend my little free time with friends, kids, outings than fussing about creating my home-

    I also don't have a cosy corner as I usually pass out on my sofa! I even panic when somebody buys me flowers since it requires time to water them! I sound DREADFUL!!! My mum thinks that I am not a home maker- Is home making about baking cookies and stuffing cute family photos everywhere! Not my theory!

    Perhaps I will change if I mature (dont want to!) or if I will own my place..let's see…

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