Home is as much a feeling as a building you live in.
I've known the importance of home since I was a little girl. My childhood home burned to the ground just before I turned eight. My sisters and I watched my parents struggle for more than two years to build a new house for us, and together in the years that followed, the seven of us made it home.
Over the two plus years it took my parents to rebuild, we all chipped in to do what we could. I remember my sisters and I hauling bricks for the construction guys. My dad would bring home furniture he'd found and we would rehab things to use as best we could. My sisters and I became experts in painting rooms and furniture, yard work...the list goes on and on. I'm sure the whole experience led me to loving interior design, home building, and gardening. It definitely taught me to look for the positive side of even the most tragic of life's experiences.
This year the whole world has been forced to turn inward behind closed doors and I have a feeling that we all have reflected on the importance of home at one point or another. It seems like the world stopped turning around March 15. Since then our homes have become satellites of home, office, school, gyms, and a safe haven from the invisible but indisputable storm that is coronavirus.
This may sound crazy coming from someone whose livelihood depends on being employed by clients who want and need help with interior design, but I feel the need to share the real secret of home.
Home is an expression of your soul on the outside. Your home is like you - unique in every way. There's not a duplicate of it somewhere, even in cookie cutter developments one might find in the suburbs, where the same few house plans are used and reused.
Never feel ashamed of the things you love, and be unapologetic about what you want to display and see on a daily basis within the sanctuary of your own home. What you love is part of what makes you uniquely you! Your home should be a reflection of that.
I've been around other designers when they've told their clients that they can't use a cherished piece in their own home. I won't lie, there are certainly times where I've been introduced to a certain collectible and wondered "how in the world am I going to make that work?" I always give an honest opinion to clients when they ask about using about a piece. I give a gentle nudging about moving it elsewhere in their home where it makes better sense. Bottom line: there are always creative way to display things or better ways to place items. All this to say that I will never ever tell a client that something they love should not or cannot be used in their home. I will always find a way. Always.
I remember a designer I know stopped by my home many moons ago. She made a remark about how there were too many pictures displayed for her taste. I refrained from telling her how we lost everything in that fire, every antique, every stick of furniture, every. single, thing. including every picture we had of our family up until the day of the fire. I let her comment go without response but I've never forgotten it. Instead I've used it to inform how I treat my clients, how I listen to their stories about pieces they want to incorporate into their home's design.
Looking back, when we lost our home, we were able to replace most things. Family, friends, and complete and total strangers rallied around us to provide even the most basic of needs. I remember to this day how my aunt's church threw a birthday party for me. I still have the Star Wars wrist watch that someone donated as a birthday gift. I'm not sure why I've kept it but I have and it reminds me of a stranger's kindness. It no longer tells time but it holds a memory...a positive one made from a negative.
Yes, while I know that most things can be replaced like a house and furniture and clothing, things like antiques passed down through the years, certain collectibles, and most importantly, old family photos (remember this was WAYYY before iPhones and back up disks)....those things entwined with memories from days gone by often are unique and irreplaceable.
On the flip side of the coin, surround yourself with things you love but also know they're just things.
Just remember the people in your life truly make a home what it is, and the things you enjoy are icing on the cake. But focusing on creating a home that is an expression of your soul on the outside can guide you to the perfect space that is right for you.