I found the following verse when making a ‘Good Luck in your New Home’ card for an acquaintance.
A house is bricks and wooden beams
A home is made of love and dreams
When the boxes are gone
And you’ve cleaned up the mess
You’ll make a home of the house
That was just an address
I find a lot of truth in these words, as it doesn’t matter if it is a castle, flat, bungalow, house, caravan or trailer, a home is what you make it. I have been inside houses that are small, cluttered but clean, and reflect the occupants personality. In most, I have felt welcome and comfortable. I have also been in filthy homes that stank of dirty nappies, animals or last week’s cabbage, and the offer of a cup of tea or sandwich off dirty crockery turns my stomach. On the other hand, I have visited larger, more extravagant establishments and felt them to be pretentious, cold and clinical. If I dared to sit on a chair or sofa, I was afraid to wrinkle the cushion or fabric in the wrong direction and thus perched precariously on the edge, if I risked it at all. One couple I knew lived in an 8 bedroom, 4 reception room mansion which was decorated throughout by a team of professionals, had tennis courts and a pool, and they were two of the most unhappy people I had ever come across. It was as if they had gone through some designer catalogue and purchased what was ‘expected’ for such a dwelling, but it had no personality, there were no little knickknacks and no personal touches to reflect either of the individuals who lived there, not even a newspaper or book on a table.
When buying a property, we always try to see beyond the choices in decor, fabrics and personal taste of the owners. After all, you are only buying the house, not the contents in the majority of cases. There have been two properties hi-lighted in the media this week, both semi detached houses but in different areas. They were quite similar on the outside, but that was all. Although the smaller one (5 bedrooms) already had a buyer, the other (6 bedrooms) had had no offers whatsoever. The first has apparently been sold for around £400,000, and every room had a purple colour scheme. Kitchen, bathroom, lounge, dining room, and all the bedrooms were decorated, fitted, trimmed and furnished in hues of the colour. Whilst I loved The Colour Purple and cried in several places, to have an entire house decorated in it? Perhaps not.
The other had a neutral colour scheme throughout, but the report said no-one wanted to buy it simply because of the owners love of collectables. Each room was crammed to the walls and ceiling with memorabilia and ornaments but this was their home, and to be honest, if I had been visiting, I probably wouldn’t have felt uncomfortable, just anxious in case I bumped into something and broke it. In my opinion, the ceramic ornaments, wedgewood crockery and artificial garlands were all quite pretty, and even the garden was full of miniature barrows, pots, plaques and lanterns. However, the experts say you should declutter your home before putting it on the market, yet I think these owners would have had a serious storage issue and need another house for theirs as there was just so much of it!
I hated our first house from the moment I walked through the door, but we were committed (or should have been) and had nowhere else to go. Being extremely small, if anything was out of place, it looked untidy, so we had minimal furniture, only 2 pictures on the wall and took down the shelves as they made the TV corner looked cramped to overflowing. Saying that though, we made the most of the space available, kept to a light colour scheme and did what we could to make it into a home. When the time came to sell, a woman came to view, and she was so critical, demanding to know where she was expected to put her dining room table and 6 chairs in a lounge/diner measuring 16 feet by 13, (part of which was taken up by a spiral staircase with a kitchen area in an opposite corner) that I refused to allow her upstairs. I told her that there was no point her seeing the rest as it was obviously not what she was after. To me, a house is just a shell and a home is made by the people and contents within. If the agent had bothered to take the time to ask her what she was looking for, she would NEVER have been interested in viewing our one bedroom box, especially with the tons of furniture she was intending to bring with her. The following day I stormed into the Estate Agents to tell them exactly what I thought of them and slapped a termination of contract on their desk. Whilst I had no problem with her comments on the HOUSE being too small, it was her verbal attacks on our furnishings and personal taste that made me see red. She was entitled to her opinion of course, but manners should have told her to keep her mouth shut.
We have a dog and I hoover every day, but still manage to miss a few dog hairs or she sheds some more when I’ve put it away. We don’t smoke, keep the place clean and tidy, and on bright breezy days open up the windows to freshen the air. We have a large collection of books and DVDs and there are little personal things dotted about, pictures on the walls, photos on the mantlepiece etc. We have deliberately kept our decor ‘plain’ and I have crocheted throwover blankets for all of the beds to introduce random colour.
I like to have visitors, though non smokers are preferred as it took over a week to get the smell of cigarettes out of our home after a visit from a niece and her family who had brought it in on their clothes. There is always the offer of a cup of tea, cake if I have it, even to our workmen or delivery guys.
In conclusion, the best compliment anyone can give me is to kick off their shoes and put their feet up. It doesn’t bother me at all if they even fall asleep in front on the TV. It just shows they are relaxed and comfortable. After all, the idea is to make our guests feel right at home.