It was sometime around the early morning when I had finally finished decluttering the kitchen almost down to bare. Dozens of bags were lined up neatly at our front door to be donated. I looked down to see my hands red raw from digging through all the drawers and cupboards. This was my cue to surrender to sleep.
I imagined Pete would be in bed, rolled into a cocoon, his hands reaching out to pull me closer. I started to hurry towards our bedroom, the floorboards creaking with each step. The sun glimpsed between the curtains, spilling a streak of light onto our quilt. I could just make out the shape of Pete underneath, and I smiled. It comforts me to know that with each day anew, I will be waking up to a place I can call ‘home’. A home with less ‘stuff’, but more love.
I feel nostalgic, thinking about the places I used to live, where I used to call ‘home’. Whenever I feel wistful about these past places I lived with my family, I remember the anxious child I once was, and my own naivety that a house meant stability. Between these walls, however, my parents’ marriage was in tumult. I learned very quickly, at a young age, that a house can be about as well-built as a relationship; if the cracks are showing, it can all come crashing down very quickly.
Despite the scars we all carried, my parents tried to piece us back together again. Sometime in my early twenties we moved to what I refer to as ‘the dolls house’ - it reminded me of something you would find in an interior design magazine. It was a double story house, with a pink-themed kitchen and a picturesque backyard. My parents filled the rooms with lavish furniture and it seemed to boast the perfect life of a normal family. And yet, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyday chaos consumed me and there was no where to hide from it.
I began to hate all the ‘stuff’ we had accumulated. What was the purpose of a large dining table if the seats remained empty? What was the purpose of a big couch, without someone to hold? The house felt cold. I secretly wanted to give everything we owned to donation. Maybe if we had nothing left inside the house, and all that we had was each other… Just maybe, there might be enough love to make it a home?
This question haunted me every day for months until one day, almost out of the blue, I’d reached breaking point. I finally realized I’d been looking for love in all the wrong places. It all made sense. I was scared about the future but oddly calm about my next decision. I took a small backpack, with my toothbrush, some clothes, a favorite book (Pride & Prejudice), and I left home with just that one bag. My bed, my clothes, belongings, furniture, and everything I owned was still in my bedroom. And for the first time, in a very long time, I felt free.
I lived in my car for a little while, perhaps not the wisest decision I’ve ever made, but by far I was the happiest I’d been in a long time. Even better, I had the best possession I could ever ask for - freedom. During this strange period of my life, I truly understood what it meant to live a non-attached life. I let go of the resentment I had towards the material possessions my family accumulated, and though I still didn’t agree with it, I understood why.
I made a silent promise to myself that I would lead a different lifestyle if I were to make a home for myself, though at that point of my life, I honestly didn’t know how or when it would happen. I hadn’t even begun to understand the concept of minimalism because I had been so focused on having almost nothing (I even ditched my car somewhere and let the council take it).
That was four years ago.
Since then, I have kept my promise to find a better lifestyle, and I live by it every day. There’s no real title for it, not like minimalism or hygge (though I admire them both) or any other type of lifestyle I know. Quite simply, I believe a house becomes a home when there is love, safety, and comfort. These three elements, for me, have guided me during my darkest time, and now, in the best of times.
I believe wholeheartedly that a home should have spaces where you can hibernate away from the world when you need YOU time. (And you should never feel guilty for that because self-love is the greatest gift you can offer yourself). A home, perhaps most importantly, should provide freedom from fear, and negative energy. A home is a place where we can feel truly loved for who we are, and respected for it.
A home should reflect the kind of person you are, your identity, your quirks, and everything in between. I don’t miss my material possessions from home because they don’t truly reflect the person I am today. I am different to who I was then. My ‘old’ self would have impulsively bought a brand new bed, which seems like the obvious answer when a bed is old and worn! But I have kept my promise to my new lifestyle, one that is true to me. I decided to refurbish all our bedroom furniture by hand. Our bed frame and bedside tables were mismatched and had a lot of scratches and dents. They still had plenty of character though.
If I’ve learned anything at all from my darkest moments, it would be that even the most broken pieces can be fixed and put back together again. And so I gave myself a new challenge to give Pete and I the bedroom we’ve both always wanted. A cozy place in our love nest.
Another space for us to call home.
Materials used for DIY:
Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint, & Top Coat
Sandpaper (fine, medium grit)
Bed and side tables are... god knows how old, or where from haha.
Keep on scrolling to see details, and some before photos! x