How do you define your home? Is it your childhood house? Is it wherever you are at the moment? Is it permanent or temporary? What types of objects make a location feel like home?
This discussion represents in part the tenants of environmental psychology. I am intrigued by this subject as I have seen too many interior designers ignorant on the topic. They produce less than stellar results when the their standard lies in surface embellishments and not the inner workings of the built environment.
I challenge you to go beyond the surface and search your definition of home. You might find a more authentic vision. In this discussion I discover that I am more grounded and more aware of just how important environmental psychology is to my definition of home.
My home is the place that gives me shelter and protection. I do not call my childhood home “home”. I lived there for twenty years and my parents for 45 years. I refer to this place as “the home I grew up in” and when my parents were there it was “my parents’ home”.
My current living space is an apartment of one thousand square feet. I moved into this mid-town apartment nearly five years ago when I decided to simplify my life by reducing the amount of stuff, eliminating the unwanted baggage, and down sizing the excessive square footage. I was living in a single family suburban dwelling and learned that it was excessive in many ways. Less stuff, less stress, and more life! So true.
Before moving I sorted and purged the stuff for several months keeping only what was needed - donated and sold the rest. I prioritized the relevance of items according to necessity and attachment. These are the things that make my apartment feel like home: vintage and current family photos, a great aunt's 100+ year old Eastlake drop front desk, a grandmother's 90+ year old hall tree w/mirror , art purchased during travels, my father’s 1940’s hand cracked ice crusher and Chuck-A-Luck cage, my mother’s 1940’s apple peeler, the dulcimer my father hand built, Noah's Ark bench made by my father and son from our backyard walnut tree, and of course my music and book collection. Also, a series of objects with a memorable connection to my sons; hand thrown ceramic pieces, art in various mediums, personal photographic prints, personal writings, high school football helmet still covered in game day dirt, a national championship high school signature soccer ball and ring.
In design programming the last item on the list should be the surface embellishments. In my space these items are precious to me. These objects transformed my etagere into a museum fixture telling my story. These precious items cannot be found online or in a retail establishment. They are my precious moments. These items do not define me. They represent a personal history that comforts my soul. These items make my space come to life more than the store bought furnishings - furniture is functional, precious items create the spirit of the place called home.
My home is where I am at the moment. Three points-
1. Interestingly, though I feel like this apartment is home I struggle to call it “home” when speaking to others because of the connection the word “home” has to the concept of the single family dwelling. From a St. Louis perspective home is a single family dwelling. When I say, “I am going home” I hear a white lie. I know this apartment is my home and to ground both mind and body must refer to it as such.
2. I grew up camping with my family and did so with my sons. I recall referring to the tent and campsite as home when on these outdoor adventures. Can you get any more temporary a shelter? Home is about the attachment not ownership. Life will be more at ease if we allow ourselves to get attached.
3. Similarly, my hotel rooms have been called home, i.e., after a long day of museum touring I have said, “I can’t wait to get home to rest.” No matter how far or near, urban or rural, new or old, wherever I sleep for more than a few nights that hotel room and lobby becomes my safe place - my home away from home.
I rent - so is my home permanent or temporary? This question is perhaps why I struggle to call this place home even though I feel it is home. It is a built environment that gives me shelter. I feel safe here. It is my home. And though I don't own it I do take ownership of it. Oddly, I call it “permanent for now.” Perhaps permanence is about settling in, getting attached, and not how long you stay. That, dear renters, is a statement that if taken to heart can indeed better your life.
Having the ability to pick up stakes is important in this economy where financial security is always at risk. I made the decision to rent so that I could have the ability to pack up and move on whenever my heart desired or pocket book required. This turned out to be a smart decision. Statistics show that the greatest number of job openings are located in high rental populations. Sadly, today home ownership can prevent relocating for the purpose of employment.
When searching Google-Image with the word 'home' the results are all, yes all, single family dwellings. We need to redefine our concept of home. Home is not necessarily a single family dwelling nor where we have lived the longest. Home is where we are settled for the moment. Home is not where we will live someday but should be where we live now. Our mind, body, and soul truly needs a place to rest now not tomorrow. This mindset will ease the stress of relocation; across town, across country, to a college dorm or even a summer camp. Understanding this concept of home at a young age will ease the transition as we age and require an assisted living facility or nursing home care. Something we all need to consider.
Home is where the heart is. Where is your heart? Share your thoughts by adding a comment below.
Recommended reading, " How the Crash Will Reshape America" and what the landscape will look like 50 years from now - http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/03/how-the-crash-will-reshape-america/7293/
The One Square Meter House
Created by Berlin architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel.
I love this house and how it messes with our traditional concept of a home. As mobile as any home on wheels this cute one square meter home just might offer the simple life we can all dream of. Indeed, less is more.
Does our quality of life really have to be fixed to numbers?
Le-Mentzel states, “When you look for an apartment, for example, the first thing you look at is the location, and then at the numbers—how many rooms, how many square meters? But when you really think about it, the square meters say nothing about the quality of the apartment, about the view from the window, how it smells, if the neighbors are nice. These are all things that you can’t put into numbers. So I said, okay, I want to have my own square meter. I want that no one other than I, myself, can decide what happens with this one square meter of mine in the world,” he said. “It’s the only square meter in the world where I can decide what direction the window looks in, what direction the door opens in, what neighbors I have.”
Geri loves to consume color through art, architecture, photography, and interior spaces of all built environments. She is a museum enthusiast. Exploring new places, cultures, and restaurants will always be a part of her life. Geri loves the creative process of cooking with natural fresh local ingredients and adores the beauty of colorfully plated food.