table and chairs on a balcony

H is for Home, but what is it that makes one?

It’s not enough to lay my hat somewhere to make it a home, although it’s a start. And home isn’t always where the heart is so just what is it that transforms a place to live into a home?

Given how many times I’ve had to create one, I’ve found the formula that works for me.

Flowers at home

Flowers, my hammock from Venezuela and a heaving bookshelf make my living room very cosy indeed.

I’ve lost count of how many different homes I’ve had over the years. As a child, my family moved around the UK enough times that I haven’t got a suitable answer to the question “Where are you from?”  As an adult, I’ve lived in several different countries and am very happy to have finally established some roots and made Portugal my home.

But before ‘Juliefying’ the Portuguese house I now share with Mike and Daisy, I managed to transform even the most basic of living arrangements into a place I could call home. I remember turning a rented room with just a mattress on the floor and a set of drawers I’d found on the street into a cosy inviting place. I used sarongs as blinds and throws, stuck arty postcards on the walls and strung some fairy lights around the shelf. Nothing luxurious but the personal touches made a real difference.

One flat I rented came fully furnished, granny style. That was harder to personalise because I couldn’t change the brown floral carpets or the hideous sofa or fireplace. I did what I could with some throws, pictures and cushions but I was never really comfortable in that place.

Living room

I used curtains, scarves and African wraps to cover the rather ugly furniture in this rented apartment in Coimbra, Portugal.

I think my need to Juliefy my home intensified when I returned to the UK after backpacking for 16 months. After sharing rooms with strangers for that long and living out of a rucksack, I really needed a refuge, a place that was mine and mine alone. My nesting instinct surfaces whenever I move and I’m never truly relaxed or comfortable living somewhere until I’ve put my stamp on it. There’s more to making a home than prettying it up with pictures though. For me, a home needs to be:

A safe haven

  • Secure from intruders so I can sleep easily and also not have to worry when I leave the property unattended.
  • A space where I can shut out the rest of the world if that’s what I want to do. I decide who comes in.
  • A place which affords me the privacy and freedom to relax in my own space, to dance around naked if I feel like it.

 Familiar and comforting

  • My things are in places where I choose to put them so they’re easy to find (in theory).
  • I can arrange the furniture and my belongings for maximum convenience and comfort.
  • Decorating my home with my favourite objects makes it a unique space that reflects my personality.

What makes a place feel like home for you? Please leave a comment to let me know.

For other interpretations of ‘Home’, check out the Weekly Photo Challenge.

This post also forms part of My Personal A to Z of Portugal.

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