I visited a friend in her lovely new home last weekend. It's a new home for her, but the house itself is quite old and oozing with memories. The moment I pulled into the long driveway of the large sprawling garden that the house is surrounded by, I felt a sense of ease - as if in fact, I was home. I felt at home. Yeah, that was the feeling.
We walked around the property and through every room and that sense just kept growing. The high ceilings and questionnable orginal floor coverings and wall colours doing nothing to detract from the safety and security I felt moving through the naturally lit and airy rooms. My friend said she felt it too, in fact, the word she used was "free". She knew instantly that she and her husband should live there.
As we sat on the verandah drinking our tea and soaking up the warmth of the sun, she said that more than the feeling of the home, they'd both noticed a massive change in their lifestyle. Moving from a townhouse to this massive home on a sizeable block saw them actively gardening until the late summer hours, being outside more, playing with their dog and just noticing an overall increased sense of wellbeing.
I've been thinking about that conversation ever since.
When I first lived with my ex-husband Dave, we had a coversation about tracksuit pants. Dave didn't own any, and I lived in mine when I was at home. Dave didn't get it. Why would anyone want to look less than their best at all times of the day? Maybe he had a point. But I also had mine.
I remember the conversation vividly, "But you don't understand, my home is my sanctuary, my place to unwind and take off any mask I've had on for the day. It's my place to be me, without judgement, where I can be 100% comfortable. I need to feel physically comfortable too and that's why I change when I get home from work." It was only then that the reason I did that dawned on me.
As little children in wintery cold Warrnambool, we'd get home from school and mum would've laid out our PJ's in front of the heater for us to change into while she made us a snack. That ritual formed a part of our sense of security, safety and most importantly, of feeling loved, cared for and protected. Home was our sanctuary and that was a little part of what I took into all of the homes I've lived in since (sometimes even the PJ's!). I'm happy to say that conversation helped Dave understand me a bit more and he even ended up buying his own tracksuit pants!
That memory got me thinking about the other behaviours I've taken from my childhood home.
One clear standout is how I light my home. At night, I create a relaxing atmosphere with dimly lit lamps instead of harsh lighting. That's certainly something my mum still does.
Another is the comfort of the throw rug to snuggle up with at night. And the cup of tea before bed.
I've noticed I also have seasonal habits where as winter approaches, I like to make home feel even more homely. I buy new linen for the bed, maybe new cushions for the couch, or a new throw rug. Yesterday, I decided I needed to create a new writing nook in my room where I can look out at the garden, while staying nice and toasty inside. You know by now that I'm not a materialistic person, but those homely purchases do increase my sense of wellbeing.
The psychology of all of this is so interesting to me and so I've decided that this is my next topic for Analyse This... stay tuned!
In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and what is the psychology behind making your home a home?