Making Home

Our place is unfinished in a lot of ways. There’s the bed, for one thing, which, while perfectly cozy, is mostly just a mattress on a bare frame. Headboard, footboard, dust ruffle, duvet—who knew a bed would require so many different components in order to look like a real bed? The “decor” is simply a miscellaneous collection of our most essential and favorite possessions. The only common thread among the artwork on our walls is that most of it belonged to someone else before us.

Still, it hit me the other day that it really feels like home. Before we moved here last summer and made our little nest, I couldn’t have pinned down much about what “home” means, exactly, but I was certain it was possible and that we’d figure out a definition for ourselves, together.

I can’t say I ever really felt at home in the tiny house in the tiny town where I grew up. I used to think it was about finding something bigger one day—a bigger house or a bigger city or that feeling of being a part of “something big.”

In college, I felt like I was getting warmer. I felt more at home living with an endless selection of books at my disposal and among the kind and curious friends I grew to love so much. There’s something about an extra-long twin bed, though, that screams “temporary,” and even the greatest cafeteria on earth would be a far cry from a simple home kitchen.

As a desperate graduate student, I filled up pinboards with dreamy photos of whitewashed interiors, perfectly rumpled sheets, and artfully arranged craspedia. I felt buried beneath an impossible workload, and I directed a significant proportion of my frustration toward my hand-me-down Ikea furniture, drafty windows, and the beat-up wood floor I rarely swept. My space looked exactly the way I felt—wrecked.

You could learn a lot about us by poking around this little apartment we now call home. Considering the onion peels on the counter and the selection of knives in various states of sharpness, you could tell that we cook here, often. From the worn tabletop, you could tell that we eat here, and from the number of placemats, you could figure we are two.

From the state of the carpet, you could assume that a furry black pup lives here, but she’d make up for that by greeting you at the door and inviting you to rub her belly. You could tell, from the percentage of square footage devoted to bookshelves, that we like books, and from the condition of those books, that we read them too.

I am learning that home has a little bit to do with the things you put in your space and the things you keep out. But I think it has a lot more to do with intention. We care for each other in this space, and by extension, we care for our space too. We live here on purpose, and we are very protective of the cozy factor. This is why we once turned down a very lovely television but could never have too many teapots.