Surely one of the great joys of making a house move is the pleasure in making a new home? A house is a building which shelters you from the elements; a home is a place of warmth and welcome. To create a home is to alchemise the essential structure of a house into the very personal experience of a home: making it unique to your wants and needs, to the personalities of those who abide beneath its roof.
I’ve never thought of myself as a real homemaker. My confidence in such matters is nebulous and fleeting. What I think is perfect in one moment suddenly fills me with doubt in the next. Ten or more years ago, when I was furnishing a flat on my own, I had a sense of what I wanted to create and I went on to create it: investing more money than I ought in some pieces and filling in the rest on a shoestring. But I was never able to enjoy it; I was always doubt-ridden. The flat never had the atmosphere of welcome. I attributed that to physical restraints: the ceilings were high, the space large and open. But I know now it was really the result of my own projected nervousness and anxiety. I dreaded having anyone visit us there. It saddens me when I look back. The flat was rented out for some time before I sold it. When it finally went on the market I’d not seen it for several years. Seeing the photos of my achievements there: how it had looked when I left it, I saw exactly the impression I’d wanted to create. I had done a good job. I’d just never let myself appreciate it at the time.
But I’ve let that experience blind me to the homes I’d created beforehand. I am thinking back now to four earlier homes where I made my mark and was very pleased with my efforts. And just one other where I don’t recall doing a huge amount but then I was busy having three children, dealing with protracted medical care for one of them and studying for a degree. I suppose it’s reasonable that homemaking dropped down the priorities. Homemaking at our last house was also a desultory affair for many reasons. Looking back, I think perhaps we would both agree that Old Spinney was a transient house: a necessary stepping stone from our former separate lives to Highfield now: where we are very much united in love and mutual support. Highfield is a home we are making together, of which we are already enormous fond and inordinately proud; a home we love and want to share with others as well as enjoy ourselves. I’ve learned a lot about what is needed to create a home and it’s not to do with money and investment pieces and having the best of everything. I’m continuing to learn – that the most important lesson is the warmth and welcome, the love and laughter that can be sprinkled everywhere and costs nothing. And since we unpacked our first boxes, I’ve been happily homemaking, and trying to sprinkle a little love and laughter wherever I can.
Today gave me enormous satisfaction. I created a toy cupboard. I kept several boxes of toys from my own children’s childhood, which my two grandsons now love to play with when they visit. Accessing the toys was always a bit of a strain when the boys came. They were stored in awkward out-of-the-way places. But now they have their very own huge toy cupboard! Everything fits and there’s rooms for plenty more. I am so happy with this one achievement; the hope of them visiting us for longer periods has moved that little bit closer. I’m already thinking of what I can add: there’s still plenty of room. And I think the boys will love it!