The Makings of Home Sweet Home

A robin feathering her nest
has very little time to rest
while gathering her bits of twine and twig

A few weeks ago when the branches were still bare, we saw the makings of an impressive nest in our back yard. Having recently trimmed Willa’s coat, it’s clear that birds find her wiry hair to be prime building material!

It might be a person, a feeling, a specific structure, or a tangible item—what makes a house a home has as many different answers as there are people. Whether you’re:

  • Gil in South Africa
  • Kevin in Scotland
  • Sandi in the southern US
  • Terrill or Leanne in Canada
  • Sam near the Big Apple
  • Ted in New Zealand
  • Kathy in a her little house in the big woods

What is it to you that makes a house a home?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
— Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© 2013 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence

86 thoughts on “The Makings of Home Sweet Home

  1. Laurie for me it is having very little separation from nature. A home is warmth and shelter from the elements but it should be ind the woods or country enough that one can have lots of windows and no curtains. In the summer we even push this boundary sometimes and move our bed out on one of our covered decks. But it is also home when it is a safe place to be shared with those I love. As you might guess our home is a changing art gallery of paintings as new ones come off the easel and others find their way to new homes around the world. Enjoy your robins and best of today to you Laurie.

  2. Any place you hang your hat! for me, it seems to be making any space wherever I am “feel” like home! Which comfortable, restful, filled with comforting object, books, art, a great bed and lots of pillows…

  3. Waking up early on a Saturday morning before my wife and son roll out of bed. The peace that fills my heart knowing we are together as a family. Listening to little dude giggle and play before he joins me on the porch, blanket in hand. The sound of my wife blow drying her hair, alerts me to stay away if we have any chance of making it out the door by noon … Lovely post and message, thank you! 🙂

  4. When I moved twice a year from my home on Beaver Island to an on-campus apartment and back again (for seven years!), and once when I lived in a motel room for a few months, I always brought books. I think they serve to define “me” so make any place feel like home.

  5. Ha Laurie! Thanks so much for that reference point! And what a fantastic and resonating post. I well remember the juncture back in 1998 when we purchased (with mortgage of course) our present home. The older man who was doing the negotiations (I remember his name was Al McCoy) for a 99 year-old woman who was then in a nursing home but passed on months later, kept saying during our return visits to check out the house that the house was empty for too long and desparately needed to have people living in it. It is in that spirit that I proclaim that it’s the people–the family and the pets that mean everything, even in a house like ours that is inhabited by fanatical collectors (and you had a great post about pack rats not long ago as I recall)–it’s the family and the home that are inseperable. It’s the permanent setting for the ineractions of a lifetime.

  6. Audrey currently in SE Wisconsin … I would echo both being about the people in our lives and a sense of place. I am single. I can be at home when I am with people (as yesterday with 3 dear coaching colleagues; now longtime friends) where I can be fully me and be seen and accepted. I am especially at home when I’m in nature settings. I’m fortunate that the place I’m renting is near a wetland; hearing the frogs and other symphony of sound bring me back to my childhood home … and the sound of crickets at night in the summer. And when I lived in the city (Chicago) for over 20 years … there was the wild or calm Lake Michigan to go to and the great lake side parks when I hungered for nature. I do also lug boxes and boxes of books with me whenever I move (I’ve parted with many) they can be revisited or serve as references or just reminders of other times and spaces. Thanks Laurie.

    • Audrey – “…be fully me and be seen and accepted.” I’m so glad you said this because it’s vital!

      And about the sounds, too. Whether they’re outside (frogs, crickets), or the sounds our residence makes (squeaky floorboard, the groan of the ice maker), those elements reflect the unique “character” of the structure we reside in.

  7. We have a wee Junko nesting in our winter pansy hanging pot by the garage door. We are using the other door to keep mama sitting on her 3 little eggs. I hope I did not do water damage but the pansies did need a drink??? If the children were still home and little they could see the nest from our bathroom window behind the lilac tree.

    Home sometimes feels like a refuge, safety and comfort….a good place to cook and have friends come over….lots of windows bringing nature in as the art on the walls and to remind us…

    I have a Mary Englebright picture in my kitchen which says “Home is where the heart is”
    A place where we do not need to protect ourselves and we can open our hearts freely – Monks and Shamans do not seem to need boundaries of walls and skin to be home…..
    This will keep me thinking all day…Quite the question

    • Patricia – Eggs make it through the rain, so I expect yours will make it through a little watering. I like the ingredients you listed for what makes a home to you: refuge, safety, and comfort 🙂

  8. Home is what we are standing on… and a little piece of it we own but we all share in safeguarding our planet and improving our environment. In our home, we plan, share and work to love, learn, be industrious, set good examples, read a lot, have friends and family over, celebrate holidays and are constantly in some stage of creating and cleaning up. Home is very important as mentioned above to recharge batteries, get beautiful and conquer new goals for the world.

  9. Home is where the heart is…I was up North at my parents just recently…1st time in 2 years so quite strange anyway. But it struck me on this occasion, as happens sometimes after a long gap between visits, that I desperately missed my home, albeit a little room in a shared house which is in semi-demoliton mode due to a refurbishment, and my parents house is a beautiful modern and lovely house with a huge lovely garden..Besides being about 20 deg’s colder up there lol and despite having packed everything but the kitchen sink I still missed my own belongings around me and my not so comfortable but somehow wonderful bed! Very strange!

  10. Hi Laurie,
    For me, a house is a home if it has a sense of security around it.
    For me, ownership/stewardship is a part of that, having family around is another part, having tools and resources is another part.
    Another part is security of community – having relationships with neighbours and wider community.
    On a daily basis, having things in their place, so that I know where to find stuff is really important to my sense of belonging. If someone else is constantly moving stuff, that takes away from my sense of belonging, of home.
    Another part is having things around that work for me – like a comfortable bed, and a chair, and a favourite cup and favoured food.
    So for me, a home is a complex weave of many sets of relationships and history – as I suspect it is for most others.

    • Ted – I loved reading your list of ingredients! I, too, like knowing where everything is — it’s comforting. By intent I don’t have very many things, so the few things that I do have, I really enjoy. For example, my slippers are older than my son (who will be 30 this year). I’ve had them re-soled umpteen times and can’t imagine buying a different pair!

    • Becwillmylife – You’ve hit on some key elements here. I think the two biggest for me in your list of ingredients are windows/light, and a place that’s safe to “just be me.”

  11. The older I get the more I realize I don’t need much. I do need a place my grandchildren can spend the night, a kitchen, not large, but appointed enough I can cook for family and friends, and I must have some dirt–outdoors! 🙂 Then fill it with my family and I am a happy camper! 🙂

    • Three Well Beings – Me too, me too! I refuse to be possessed by possessions. Hence, I have very few material items. I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but I can hardly wait!

  12. My home is surrounded by pictures of my sons from all stages of life, calming colors and furnishings that speak to me. Expressions of my personality are everywhere. So are books. And my cat who naps all day in the sun streaming in from the windows. Home is the powerful energy that surrounds me where I’m living now; when I stepped foot inside the door for the first time six months ago to look at it, I knew instantly it was to be our home! Home is loud and crazy with three teenage boys, dinner together every night, times of laughter and sometimes tears. Home is here, where I am now! 🙂

  13. I love watching the nests develop & grow this time of year. We have one in a tree in our backyard as well. Home for me is where ever my girls are. I’ve struggled with this a great deal this year and have needed to redefine it a little. With Casey being away at school it has taken me a long time to feel “at home” with her not being here physically. I think we’ve come to a good place and a good feeling just in time for her to really come home next week .

  14. Hi Laurie! I read this yesterday and thought & thought about what makes a house a home. And no answer presents itself. I have NO idea. Absolutely none. Maybe I haven’t lived in enough houses over the years to feel the difference. Haven’t read all the comments (or your replies) but wonder what YOUR answer might be?

    • Kathy – Somewhat like a turtle, for me “home” is rather portable.

      Not tied to a specific person, place, or thing, HOME IS WHEREVER I AM SATISFIED (which has a great deal to do with my choices). I might be on a train, in the Highlands of Scotland, on a teleconference, mowing the yard, or riding my bicycle.

      Whenever I am dissatisfied, I am not at “home.”

  15. Simply said: ‘the love you put into a home,’ and ironic that you’d choose a robin to portray as making a home as it has been my finding when out walking that they are the friendliest and cheeriest of birds . . .

  16. That I am comfortable “there”. Being “comfortable” is home to me. Wherever I am, I am at home, because I am comfortable with my self. If others live with me there, then the presence of caring people – people who care about my illnesses or frustrations, who can share in the joy of my successes, who understand if I am grieving. If living alone, then simply that I am able to feel comfortable there.

    I note that my family can feel quite “at home” in any motel room. It is interesting that although our home is rather old, small and plain – we are always glad to return there. Why ? Because the things that make us comfortable – our belongings live there with us. I don’t “make” a house to be a home. I am “home”, wherever I am – even in a tent alongside a wild river.

  17. Love makes a house a home. Oh not the romantic kind you read about in books or see in movies, but real Love, Love as a state of being that has no fear. A home should be somewhere you can retreat to, to be completely yourself, without fear, without judgement.
    Home is a welcoming place even when you arent there, just the thought of home brings a smile to your soul.

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  19. Having just moved to a new home, I’ve been doing a bit of nesting myself lately. It seems the things that bring me the most joy are little bits of shine and sparkle, such as a mirrored wind chime, or an enamelled butterfly. Now that most of the heavy lifting is done, I’m enjoying the process of feathering my own nest. Recently I discovered a tiny momma wren sitting on her precious eggs in a nest on my back patio, and every day I put bits of apple or string or bird seed out for her, and get to enjoy her fluffing up her nest. I think we’re both enjoying the view.

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  21. A house is a home if it is light, bright and comfortable. For me. All it needs is a place I can sit and ponder and feel the joy of life.

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  23. Familiarity. Whenever I travel, even to places I am excited about and dreamed about visiting, I can’t wait to get home to where everything is exactly where it is supposed to be. Not just in my house but in my neighborhood and city. It isn’t until I get back home to my own surroundings that I can enjoy where I have been!

    • RMW – An avid traveler, I don’t mind when things aren’t the “norm” during the adventure. That’s part and parcel of the trek. But like you, when I return home, I like “everything exactly where it’s supposed to be.”

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  25. dear Laurie, Love your tagline! Perfect…exactly what i am all about these days…making good choices…and living every moment! For me, my friends and family coming to be with me makes my home a home! I love company! …so I hope also…to be “at home” with others…to be there for them…to find home wherever life takes me next…Yes, I am a #6 on the Life Path. I checked it out…it is so amazing! I heard of it previously, but never delved into it. Your posting made it easy to calculate…and I see myself in the description of No.6 very clearly—WOW!

    • JohannIsThinking – I’ve never met a Life Path 6 I didn’t like 🙂 The tagline, “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing” came to me while on a hermitage at the Llama Foundation in New Mexico. To date it remains the singular most important things I’ve learned in my life — I’m glad it struck a chord in your heart as well.

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