2 years ago Henry and I packed up the cats and trundled down the road from North London to Mid-Wales. The start of an adventure heaped with stress and necessity. An adventure none the less. A year later we moved from the hillside farmstead to a flat in the town. And we have just moved again, to a place with a garden.
3 moves in 2 years.
All of these moves have been driven by our need for affordable housing, safety, and changing life circumstances.
I have been both loathed and desperate to move in equal measures. Swinging through emotions and a need for independence and stability.
What is a real home? And when our choices are compromised by our reality – can we fake it?!
Can we make a place that is our best option, but does not make our heart leap, feel like a home?
How do you define a home? What do you want, and need, from a home?
For us we really want a garden, a sense of space, a great land lord and neighbours, in a quiet and safe spot. I would also really love to live somewhere that didn’t feel unfinished, a building site, or badly maintained. I could go on. It becomes quite an exhaustive list!
Our latest move ticks a lot of boxes. It is a safe and quiet spot with a garden, and good landlord. It is relief to have found it. It is a great house. But I am still dreaming of a forever home.
Sometimes keeping our heads in the clouds keeps aspirations and dreams alive. No matter what anyone tells me I think it is good to indulge in daydreaming. It is important.
Sometimes dreams are realised through small steps in the right direction. Sometimes addressing our immediate needs is a much more effective way of creating magic in our lives than doing nothing because so focused on the 10 year plan. Giving ourselves what we need, can help sustain us to keep moving towards what we really really want.
If you want turrets and a butler go get it! If you want carbon neutral off-grid living in the woods with 3 bedrooms and a compost loo – go get it! If you really want these things, but cant get a mortgage, have obligations, or any other restrictions at the moment that mean you live in a house that looks a bit different to your dream home… keep dreaming!
What I have come to realise is that where I thought I would be living 4 years ago, and where I am living, and want to live in the immediate future, are quite different! So to keep myself focused on the positive reasons we have chosen this path I simply try to make the best of the home we have.
Here are 3 simple tips that have helped us make the most of these interim rental spaces, and helped me feel more positivly connected to where we live.
We hear this advice all the time. Go through drawers, under the bed, and clothes, kitchen cupboards and bottles in the bath room. Give away what you can, bin what you cant, keep what you really want to. There is no right or wrong with decluttering. If you really don’t want to give away your dress collection, don’t. There might be 28 old pairs of socks and tights you are more than willing to part with though. Or even 5. I find this helps create a sense of space, it reminds me what I really enjoy having around me. A home is about more than bricks and mortar.
Make some bunting, do some paintings with your nieces, and giant paper pom-poms. Some home-made art can make home feel much more personal and reflective of your life. Especially when the kitchen cabinets in no way reflect your taste! (all those paintings area a really good way to hide the cabinets too!)
Flowers and Foliage
In the flat we only had a small doorstep space. But it was covered in pots. I have a few indoor plants too. I would not be without them. Again, they remind us that home is about more than bricks and mortar, and are a great way to ‘dress’ what we live in. They really help to make it feel like we are more connected to the outdoors and nature. We have a garden now, and have been busy with more pots and compost. I have repurposed old sinks, welly boots and chimney pots; taken cuttings and found end of season discounted plants to keep costs down.
I also like to pick up nice little branches and sticks and leaves and bits when we are out and bring them in – they get propped up here and there and look lovely. Here in Wales we are lucky to have very beautiful sticks! Ok, so people think I am a bit nuts for this one. But I love it. There might be something that is very specific to your and your interests and tastes you can do like this? Have a think, have some fun.