What makes a house a home?

This move has taken a toll on my emotions, mental state, and my physical placement in this world. I knew I wanted to blog about this move, and yet I did not want to bore you with my sadness of leaving one place and excitement for moving back to my childhood, and adolescent space. Not wanting to bore you brought me to this thought – what makes a house a home? A question that has been raised for discussion before my time.

After having watched my friends bake yummy cookies I asked them what they thought. Val said, “my bed, and the familiarity of your surroundings”. Val, Christina, and Catherine have pets (dogs) and that made me think that maybe it’s ones pets who make a home. Especially after seeing Val’s mom interact with her doogies, and feed them dinner.

Having left one home behind in Ottawa for another, and one that has been my ONE and ONLY home since birth prior to moving to my Glebe apartment… it made me wonder, “What exactly would I miss about my apartment – that I’ve inhabited for the last four years??”
For one my roommates contributed to making that apartment my home. Whether it be watching MTV, and more specifically jersey shore/the real world together, cooking pizza drunkenly after the bar, cleaning up after one another, occasionally making baked goods/dinners for each other, or crying in each other’s rooms after devastations hit (haha life things – I cry) this companionship became one that replaced the necessity of my family. These individuals definitely contributed to making that apt. a home. I would miss the perks of the apartment such as the wicked balcony we had, our back room (which was an add-on to the apt.), our location being central to the glebe and Ottawa as a whole, and being walking distance from some of my best friends/favorite pubs. The physicality of the apt., for example how large our rooms were made me love the space, and that allowed me to live comfortably in the space…

In retrospect some of the furniture in my bedroom in Ottawa was new when i first moved in, and that quickly morphed into being part of my home. And so bringing that furniture to Thornhill with me, and replacing my old things with these “new-ish” pieces made my bedroom in Thornhill transform into something, and yet still familiar. The combination of both worlds, and getting everything to fit together took an entire day to complete. Unpacking, and adding these Ottawa additions to my Thornhill space resulted in making me feel at home again instantaneously. I don’t really want to believe that stuff – such as desks, bookshelves, lamps – contribute to making a home what it is, but it does. I felt at odds looking into my old room prior to the switch of some furniture, and seeing my old corner desk – it just didn’t belong anymore. Whether it didn’t represent me as well as my Ottawa desk or was just too large for the room in general once it was out I felt like I could breathe comfortably.

When I first moved into that Ottawa apartment the photos I hung on my walls of my Toronto friends, and family that I had left behind helped me to adjust and suppress my “first-place” jitters. Five years later, and it is the photos of my new “Ottawa friend-like-family” that has made me feel comfortable in my old/new bedroom in Thornhill. I agree with Val when she says that it is the familiarity of things that contribute to making a home because for me it holds true. Seeing my girlfriends who are currently still living in Ottawa up on my walls makes me feel like I really contributed to their lives, and I know that they have made an impact on my life because looking at their smiling faces reminds me of how important Ottawa was in my life. Ironically, all the photos that I do have up of my Ottawa friends has my apartment in the background… I did not do that consciously, but it makes me love the photos more.

I  believe that you can make a house a home wherever you end up, but it is the little things that bring a smile to your face and relax you while in that environment. I have yet to live on my own, and so maybe I’m not entirely correct, but it is also certain individuals you live with and your interactions with them that contribute to a house/or in my case in an apartment becoming a home. A home is somewhere you feel at ease, and comfortable looking like shit with greasy hair or in tattered pj’s. You can lounge without judgement and you love being there whether with people or even alone because it is the place that is your own, and most often reflects yourself. I love that my Thornhill room is yellow, and it’s my favorite colour to this day! I was fortunate enough to have roommates that allowed me to be this way, and also contributed to my making the Glebe apartment my true home.

I would like to know, “What do you think makes a house a home??”

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10 Responses to What makes a house a home?

  1. Rick says:

    I think there are several things that make a house a home… the few I can think of off the top of my head are:

    Emotional attachment… being in a place so long that it just feels like home. As they say… home is where the heart is.
    Feeling like a part of a community… knowing your neighbors on a first name basis, etc.
    A sense of permanency… being settled in, owning your own furniture, with no plans of leaving the place in the foreseeable future.

    I dunno… a lot of people associate home with only one location… typically their childhood abode, family house, etc… but I think you can have more than one! I feel as though I do, anyways. Err… correction… had, since my mother moved. I’m gonna stop before this becomes a rant.

    p.s. You should have entitled this blog entry, “Holmes on Homes”. That is all.

  2. Dee says:

    Haha, funny enough my father’s name is Michael, and people confuse him to be the “Holmes on Homes” Michael Holmes very often.

    I completely agree with you about feeling like you have more than one home. I certainly did while i lived in Ottawa, and i think even though i’m not living there currently it will always be a 2nd home to me.
    Also because you are there Rick, and let’s face it you are practically part of my family.

  3. Cammie says:

    I definitely agree with Rick about emotional attachment; however, I feel that this ultimately extends to the people you meet . For me, calling a place a “home” has so much to do with the people that step foot inside your abode….Picture yourself living in a cozy little apartment: you’ve put pictures up on your walls to remind yourself of your “past home,” brought little trinkets and other small furniture items to assimilate your new world with your old world…you’re in a city you think you can get used to; you’ve got job prospects or are at a new school, but what if you don’t meet anybody that you connect with? Nobody to call over on a Thursday night when you feel like watching 4 hours of hospital shows with someone, or no one to call over to celebrate a happy milestone in your life….

    In essence, no amount of effort you put into creating a chic new place will yield true happiness – or the feeling of ‘home’ – if you have no one to share it with, be it friends, family, a loved one, or roommates (this is not to say you cannot live alone…). Loneliness, can never be eclipsed by any amount of happiness you’re trying so badly to achieve by setting out – for whatever reason – on your own and into a new place.

    Hence why I hated Oshawa. The End

    • Cammie says:

      (I did meet some great people while in Oshawa, but that is another story for another blog reply). The End part two

    • Dee says:

      I completely agree, and it is the memories you make within a space whether alone but mainly with other people that makes a house a home.

  4. Dee says:

    While beginning my newest “summer read” entitled The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (Winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize) this was the first paragraph:

    “The house my father left behind in Fargo, North Dakota, was never really a house at all. Always, instead it was an idea of itself. A carpenter’s house. A work in progress. So that even after we moved him north to Casablanca, and his Fargo home was dragged away – the lot sold to a family from Billings, Montana – my father was always saddened and surprised if the place was remembered irreverently, as if it had been a seperate incidental thing; distinct from the rest of our lives. In this way, he remained, until the end, a house carpenter. If only in the way that he looked at things. As if all objects existed in blueprint; in different stages of design or repair” (Skibsurd 9).

    This excerpt made me acknowledge a ‘house’ in a different perspective, and so as a physicial/concrete/cold/man-made thing or structure. When purchasing a home, or looking to rent an apartment and viewing it for the first time whether it is completely empty or has the previous owner’s things in it you view it as a seperate space from youself. It is your things, and what you fill each space with that makes it transform into a home. I think time, and memories made within a space make it a home as well.

    • Cammie says:

      great point dee….and spaces can still feel disconnected from you if you fill it with things purchased just for your new space, as they’d have no sentimental value. i actually stumbled upon this book the other day, and was curious to read it. how far along are you in it?

      • Dee says:

        I have only just begun this book, and i’m not sure how I feel about it. Maybe my expectations were to high? I knew about it because it was originally printed by Gaspereau Publishing House which is a small privately owned Publishing House in the East coast I believe, and they believe in making copies of books that are meaningful and beautiful within themselves, and they make less copies than a big time publisher.
        It is interesting but I don’t think the story is linear, and it jumps around a bit. I think you’d like it though! I have just yet to get into it.

  5. Zia Connie says:

    When we used to enter our house after vacationing, the first thing that Isabella and Emily would say is how they missed the smell of our home. They recognized at such a young age that every home had its own ‘smell’. To me what makes a place a home is my family, my special photos of my family, every little knic knac, evey piece of furniture and yes even the “smells”.

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