The place where I live has always been very important to me. I like the fact that my mum and dad are still in the house where I was born and raised; being able to return to the original family home is comforting. Growing up I remember only one serious attempt to move house. My mother wished to relocate the family to a more salubrious part of the city but, in the end, my father saw no need for the move and we stayed put. Their house, with it’s gardens front and back, requires upkeep that must challenge my elderly and increasingly frail parents, but they no longer talk of moving. They bought the house when it was new so no other family has ever lived there. Perhaps they too are happy to live amongst the many happy memories that the house holds.
From my mid teens I wanted my independence and looked forward to the day when I would have a home of my own. I had short spells at university and when I first went out to work of renting a room in a shared house, but this always felt transient. As soon as I felt secure in my employment I wished to purchase a place that I could call home. I loved the first little flat that I bought, especially the feeling that it was mine.
When my husband and I got engaged to be married we spent a long time looking for a house that we could buy together. We sold my flat and his house and rented a place for a short time, living out of suitcases as most of our belongings were in storage. Although we searched for a suitable property in several towns and cities I did not like the idea of being overlooked. Our eventual choice of property was as much to do with it’s relative privacy and feeling of open space as about the building. We bought a plot and watched the house being built. I especially liked the idea that no other family would have lived there. It was ours and ours alone. Over the years that we have lived here, everything that has been done to it has been done by us. It holds so many memories of our early married life, the arrival of our children and their subsequent growth and development. It is a good place to live and I cannot imagine leaving it.
My husband’s parents have made quite a number of house moves over the course of their married lives as family circumstances and jobs have changed. They now live in a town a few miles from us which they moved to when they retired. We had a delicious lunch with them yesterday and they were talking about a potential, future move as they consider downsizing. I wonder will I be able to be as sensible when my husband and I no longer require the space that our house affords.
Perhaps surprisingly for someone who values their home so highly I am not particularly house proud. I wish my home to be welcoming and comfortable but rarely manage to keep it as clean and tidy as I would like. Unlike many of my friends, I do not concern myself over tired paint or marked furnishings. Most of the decorating that has been done in the twenty years that we have lived here has been as a result of changing the use of a room. We have extended the house several times and new walls demand fresh plaster and paint. When my husband installed his home entertainment system the wires were embedded in the walls resulting in a need to redecorate the room. The only space that has been changed just for the look is my daughter’s bedroom. Our bedroom still lacks curtains several years after it received it’s first change of wall paint since we moved in.
Although I do my best to keep the house looking presentable, I am not concerned with it being on trend. I select what appeals to me at the time but am very aware that I will probably live with that look for a decade or more during which time fashions will change. I am always impressed when I visit a friend who has decorated a room with accessories that bring out key features and colours in matching hues. As we rarely replace a serviceable item our rooms evolve over time to suit practicality as much as presentation.
Our house is on the edge of a village that sits on a hill so the views from our garden over the farmed fields of rural Wiltshire are fabulous. To one side of our house we have a woodland that once formed part of a King’s hunting forest. It is the location of the house as much as the building that makes it so appealing. I am well aware, however, that it feels like home because of the memories that it has absorbed over the years and the people with whom I share it. Both could be relocated if necessary.
My children do not like the idea of us ever moving from this house. My older two are getting to an age when they are looking forward to moving out and on with their lives, but they have made it clear that they want to come back to this house. I find it interesting that they seem to feel as I did.
Whilst I may recognise that, in time, my husband and I will outgrow our need for a property of this size, I hope that this will not be for many years to come. When I am trying to get this house in order I will look back wistfully on the couple of hours it used to take me to get my first little flat pristine. A small property is so easy to maintain. However, on a sunny summer’s day when I can sit in our garden with a glass of chilled white wine and look out over the valley below our house; when I can watch my family enjoy the space we call ours; I realise how truly blessed I am to live in a place that suits us so well. Home may be a great deal more than a house, but to me this house is a part of what has shaped my family. These bricks and mortar may not be essential, but they have enabled me to enjoy security, constancy and contentment which I value. When my little birds fly the nest they will know that they have a familiar and welcome home to which they may return.
‘He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.’