In an ideal world, we'd all be living in the homes of our dreams, with enough room for every family member, all our possessions, and a warm southern-facing view... In reality, few of us are blessed with this good fortune. We make do with the homes we can afford, which were available at the time, which are close to our place of work...
When we moved into our house four years ago, we did not imagine we'd still be living here today. Not only living in fact, but feeling as though this building is truly our home. We have barely spent anything on home improvements, nor have we magically transported our house into the middle of a lush green field in the countryside. Perhaps in the future we might be able to live in a better home in a neighbourhood more pleasant than the one we currently inhabit, but for now we're simply learning to love where we live.
For those like us who cannot simply pack up and move, here are five ways in which we have grown to love where we live. I may not be able to help you build an extra room or renovate your house on a shoestring budget, though perhaps by reading about our experiences you may learn how to love your own home too.
|Photo credit: Theen ...|
For us, the most important factor in learning to love our less-than-perfect house was making the decision - as a family - to make this place our permanent home.
Until we actually agreed about this we'd always felt somewhat unsettled; I was unwilling to spend much time or money to improve our house, and was always looking out for "To Let" signs while driving through town. Now, all of us feel as though a weight has been lifted. We're more inclined to keep things neat and tidy; Princess is collecting paint samples so we can redecorate, and for the first time Big Lad is putting up posters on his bedroom walls.
Making our home feel secure
|Photo credit: linda yvonne|
We were luckily to find sturdy doors, secure locks and an effective alarm system installed in our house when we moved in. Yet despite this effective home security set-up, we still felt a little vulnerable. Our house looked out directly onto the street and road, with only a small front garden separating us from the public pathway beyond.
So we built a small fence around the yard, and wow did this make a difference! It wasn't a particularly expensive job, but was worth every penny we'd saved. Strangers no longer take shortcuts across our garden; Babyman has a safe place to play outdoors, and having a boundary (even though it's only four feet high) gives us a sense of privacy when spending time outside.
Another improvement to our sense of security was to install Venetian blinds and net curtains across the windows of the ground floor. I was initially discouraged as our house is North-facing and has little natural light, but trading a little light for an increased sense of privacy was well worth it.
Taking care of those little household jobs
|Photo credit: furryscaly|
There are little jobs in every home which aren't enough of a nuisance to require immediate fixing, but which niggle nonetheless. Eventually I realised that all of these little things were having a slight but definite effect on the way we felt about our home.
Spending just a few minutes each day to complete unfinished projects, fix broken light fittings; secure curtain poles; hang photographs in frames, and all those other little household jobs we had forgotten has made our home feel more complete. Sure, we still need to redecorate at least half of the house (and repaint the awful mess I made of the hallway!), but the house looks and feels better already!
Making our home feel comfortable
|Photo credit: Celeste|
The knock on effect of deciding to stay in our home is wanting to make our house look and feel comfortable. Without the means to give our house a complete interior makeover, I decided to focus on the smaller, more achievable goal of making sure it feels cosy and welcoming.
Starting at the front door, we considered what would make our home look and feel more appealing. Initially, we cleaned and tidied the porch and yard, then set about devising a system to ensure the entrance hall doesn't get crowded with our shoes and coats.
When friends and relatives visit, we tend to spend time chatting around the kitchen table (which also functioned as my makeshift desk), and decided to rethink our use of space. After a weekend of de-cluttering, I re-purposed my antique sewing table to a space in the corner to ensure the kitchen table was free of my computer and messy papers. It now feels much more comfortable, and I don't have to spend time clearing a space each time we want to sit down for a meal!
Slowly but surely we're working through more plans to help our house feel more cosy, such as storage for all of Babyman's toys (which currently take over the lounge) and a solution for hanging clothes in my tiny bedroom. We'll get there eventually - the main thing is that we're taking steps to make us all feel more comfortable in our home.
Getting involved in the community (if only a little...)
|Photo credit: Hamed Saber|
In my opinion, a sense of belonging extends beyond the boundaries of our homes. While my children and I have been making use of local amenities, I realised we weren't really getting involved.
Unfortunately, my time is severely limited. Being a work-at-home mum of three I barely get the chance to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace, let alone dedicate chunks of time to volunteering. Even attending community meetings poses difficulty without childcare!
After some consideration, I realised there are some things I can do, and that even a tiny amount of involvement can make a difference. I've offered my services as a designer to our local community action group and make time to attend local events such as jumble sales, festive fairs and other child-friendly activities.
In the future when Babyman is old enough to attend nursery, I hope to free up a little more time to become a little more involved, though in the meantime our activities are helping us feel more at home in our neighbourhood. We've met new friends, learned more about the history of our community, and overall have a more positive outlook about where we live.
How have you learned to love where you live?Have you made a decision to live in a home which is less than ideal? What tips can you offer to make a house feel like a true "home"?
Please feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments below, or send me an email if you like. I'd truly appreciate any tips, and am sure other Glamumous readers would like to learn from your own experiences too.
Image credit (post banner): Sauerlander, via Flickr