P1080573Home. The word itself is soothing. All soft H, long O, humming M, even the silence of the E.

Houses are built but homes are made.

I have seen some pretty spartan living quarters, but they always included decoration, even if it was pages and pictures from old newspapers and magazines, wildflowers in a used tin can. Usually, there is something personal. A memento. A photo, a souvenir from a happy moment in the past, a relic of a loved one.P1080571Homes are gathered. Some might say collected or curated, but that involves an aesthetic that doesn’t necessarily include raw emotion. It’s why, to me, the best interiors are those that are layered by years of life experiences, not the latest trends clicked and ordered and delivered same day.

There is a magical quality to the minimalist and modern Roche Bobois aesthetic. Epuré– streamlined–is the term. One imagines that the resident of such pared-down perfection could have an entire wardrobe of white clothes and that they never would be wrinkled or stained, and no paper would ever arrive from officialdom to cause one to tear one’s hair out and spend several days trying to get the situation resolved. Because such houses have no place for papers that represent unresolved problems. All surfaces are void. All problems are null. It is a seductive proposition.P1080584But I don’t believe it for a minute. And while I like a modern space every now and then, the way I like vinegar–a bright, bracing contrast to more comforting, comfortable things–a little goes a long way. Too much, and all you get is sour emptiness. No heart. No past. No memories. No love.

I’m very sentimental. As I type this, I’m wearing a sweater that belonged to my mother, even though there’s a huge rip on the sleeve. I have other sweaters, but this one was hers.  It will have to be far more shredded before I part with it. (Fair warning to my husband.)P1080581Every piece of art in our house has a story. Sometimes the story is that I, or my husband, or both of us were someplace and the picture or carving captured that place, that moment, and we wanted to keep it with us forever. None of it is valuable in a collector’s monetary sense, but all of it is beloved–not so much the items themselves but the moments they represent and the people we were then. Sometimes the story comes from having been was passed down. Especially the photos. The exuberant smiles on my siblings’ then-young faces. What a mess we made our home, four forces of nature with far too much energy to be contained by the walls and roof of a mere house. The smallest thing can transport me there, across the ocean, across the decades, so much so that I am startled to find myself here, now, when I snap out of my reverie. I am not sad to be here. I want to go hug my kid and kiss my husband and jump for joy for being so lucky. That doesn’t negate the yearning to also throw an arm around the buzzcut boy in the photo. P1080586A home is feathered not only with things but with rituals and sounds and scents. My mother’s constant classical music. My dad’s snores from down the hall that let me know he was home safe from work. Roast beef on Sundays whose smell permeated the house when we came back from church. We have different rituals, but they still tie us to each other, like a shared safety net. As Rick says in Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.”



28 thoughts on “How do you feather your nest?

  1. So lovingly expressed. Wonder what triggered this memory and reflection????
    As I try to keep up and understand current events and the state of the world, I find your post very comforting and grounding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The actress Jenny Agutter remarked to me 30 years ago that SO long as she had her favourite shawl to throw on the end of a bed or a chair, a spritz of her favourite scent in the Air (I forget what it was now) and the gilt framed photo of her family relaxing on the lawns of the house she grew up in, any hotel room in the world was home. Your account of what constitute home for you is touching and lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Jeremy Irons mother used to live next door to us and my ex-husband made all the stone carvings for his Castle in Co. Cork. He’s a lovely man (Irons more than the ex-hub 🤭) That is a most interesting article, thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Having moved every 18 months and went to 7 different schools by the time I was 12, my mother made a such an effort to make every house, which was usually a rental, “our home”. There were, as there are in my home now, family pictures and art from local artists which mean something to my husband and me. No one would ever want to copy “my style” as it is a mish-mash of both our families’ furniture, pictures, etc…but it’s our home and we love it. Thanks for the most lovely article; it “woke” many memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, same moving situation, but not the effort to make it home. Which explains why I now have a very eclectic home full of the items I have fallen in love with — I guess that should be: with which I have fallen in love. There is a lot to see in my home, kind of like a big Cabinet de Curiosites …. Thanks for another great post.
      bonnie in provence


    1. Those things go hand in hand, no? Being one’s authentic self can only happen where one feels safe. Ideally, we would all feel safe enough to be at home in the world.


  4. That little nest triggers a childhood memory of sitting outside in the sun as my mother cut my hair. I would place the curls with a bit of red yarn out on the lawn so that the birds could use them for their nest-building. Home, indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How very clever of you. I agree that is a delightful memory and says a lot about the thoughtful child you were and how encouraging and supportive your mother was.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely post. Home, childhood memories, being able to build memories for my child. Even if I have been an empty nester for a few months, I do not feel alone. Family is precious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Probably too many!!!
      I remember a Prairie Home Companion episode about a dweller crawling into bed, worried that the weight of the keepsakes in the attic would crash down on him during his sleep. He imagined the news: Local Man Crushed by Memories.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A wonderful post, especially when in this day and age almost every image I see on Instagram is a collage of white, gray and Ray Dunn pottery.

    I like a few of your commentaries moved every 2 years as a child but my mom always made every place we lived, warm and cosy, even though many of the houses were base housing. My house is cosy and collected. My husband and I have both traveled and collected extensively, and every time we look at an item we remember where we were and the memories come flooding back. The house is a notebook of our lives and our adventures.

    Thanks for sharing your memories. I love that you are wearing your moms sweater. Even when it is tattered make sure to save a piece of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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