How do you make a house a home? One little corner at a time.
There's a welcome simplicity to renting a home rather than owning it. I'd forgotten this. It's good to be reminded.
There are so many hidden costs in home ownership: keeping up the yard, pool service, pest removal, tree trimming, replacing water heaters, repainting, remodeling....it was all so expensive and time consuming. Then there were the property taxes, which in Southern California are exorbitant.
But now we're renting again. And I'm starting to find the grace in it.
Last week—thanks in large part to the many kind and understanding comments I received after sharing about our move (thank you so much!)—I felt my spirits begin to lift a bit. I found myself trying to nestle in and make this new space feel like home.
I began by focusing on small corners of the house.
There is a small, built-in shelf in a corner of the family room. For weeks it sat empty. One morning I woke up with a little creative energy and spent about an hour creating a vignette of books, succulents and cherished decor pieces. Now this one small corner of my house feels like home again.
We got rid of so much stuff before our move that there wasn't enough furniture to fill the new house, even though it's smaller. Our new living room stands largely empty except for a folding table with my painting supplies. And because we don't own any formal dining furniture, we let the twins turn the dining room into their playroom.
So, I've become something of an accidental minimalist. There's a spartan homey-ness to this new way of living. It’s easier to keep things tidy, for example. Clutter doesn’t accrue on open surfaces because there's no clutter for accruing.
There is a key-shaped hook hanger for hanging our keys. Another hook hanger for purses and backpacks. We keep our shoes neatly sorted in a shoe rack inside the coat closet. There are two identical trash cans in the kitchen: one for trash, one for recyclables.
There’s a tiny powder room we’ve come to call “The Hobbit Bathroom” because it’s tucked under the stairs and reminds us of a cozy, little hobbit hole. It only contains a toilet and pedestal sink. But last week I purchased a brick red, circular bath mat for the floor, a hand towel with a bright bohemian-style print and a ceramic soap dispenser with embossed florals. Sometimes it's just the little touches that start to make a house feel like a home.
I don't think it will truly feel like home until all my books are shelved, though. Our last home had an entire wall of built-in bookshelves. Plus I had two freestanding bookcases. Even then I had books in boxes. Yes, I have a lot of books. But in this new house there is nowhere to put my books. I've packed them all away in boxes and am not sure what I'm going to do with them. I've already donated loads of them and the ones I kept are like my friends. I can't get rid of my friends! I'm not sure what to do about this.
Whenever I'm feeling anxious about this new living situation, I find I can calm myself by straightening things up. There's something inherently soothing about putting things in their place, isn't there? When we first moved and everything was still in boxes and crates, life felt far more chaotic. Now that I've been able to put things away and sort things out, life is starting to settle a bit.
I've been thinking a lot about how home is tied to our identity. A place doesn't really feel like home until you've LIVED in it for awhile, right? Made memories. Shared celebrations.
I want to do more to make this new place feel like home but then I think: "What's the point? We're probably moving again soon." It all feels so temporary and fleeting, like there's nothing to hang onto.
But isn't that all of life? All of it is fleeting and temporary. Everything changes. The key, I think, is to find joy even in the midst of uncertainty and change. I'm finding it slowly, one little corner at a time.