What makes a house a home?

our new home | Kimberly Hetherington

As you might have read from my previous post, we’ve recently moved.

We’ve gone from a sun-soaked apartment to a leafy townhouse. It’s been a difficult transition, more so than I anticipated. There is more responsibility required living in a house as oppose to a large apartment block. I am also literally more grounded in this place. I can see the trees outside the window from root to leaf, whereas in our last place we were high above the trees. I still miss where we used to live, and I don’t know how long this feeling will last. It feels like the end of a happy, joyful relationship. It’s made me wonder how long it will take for this place to feel like home. It’s also made me wonder why it seemed like our last place instantly felt like home, while this one doesn’t. Is it because it’s easier to move without kids? Am I more nostalgic and routine based because I’m now a mother? Has change become harder or does it just feel that way because it’s my current reality?

My husband and other friends comfort me saying, “Don’t worry! It takes time to settle in. Eventually this place will be your home”. But when, and more importantly how, does a house become home? Is it familiarity? Is it knowing that this light switch turns on this light without having to think much of it? Is it remembering the right keys to use on this lock? Having a known spot for all your things? Becoming familiar with the new squeaks and creaks of the home? Or is it the furniture? The plants and pictures and little trinkets? I have always aimed towards a life of minimalism (even if I don’t ever quite achieve it) but now I realise how much a sense of ‘home’ is stored in ‘things’. A home is not a home without all the the things that go in it. Right?

When I reflect on my family home in Ottawa, I can still picture every room. If I close my eyes, I can transport myself back there. It certainly wasn’t the nicest house on the block but it holds so much meaning to me, and it always will. I know that if I was to drive by it right now my heart would be filled with beautiful and painful memories. I know that even though all the furniture is different and new people live there, it was still my home. It still holds so much to me. The same goes for our beautiful apartment in Cremorne. Perhaps every place we live in for a period of time becomes meaningful.

I suppose a home is one where there is a combination of factors: familiarity, but also, more importantly, memories. I have neither yet. Everything feels out of place. I can’t find out the best way to arrange it all. Playing interior designer is doing my head in. I know eventually we will adapt to the space. I’m just being impatient. The pieces will eventually come together and the memories will grow. One day this place will feel like home. But for now, all we have are concrete walls and a roof.


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