Feeling home

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We have been in our home for many years. The landscaping has finally grown. The trees give shade. There is a homey feeling about all that.

As we look at other homes in an attempt to downsize, I am turned off if I don’t get that “homey” feeling. I wanted to know how I get it.

Realtors call it curb appeal but it’s more than that. It’s more than a nice front door. For me it’s all about the back yard.

It goes back to my childhood home. We had large trees that were over 50 years old all over the property. Most of them were fruit trees. It was work but wonderful. There is something about a shady yard that takes me back there and that feels “homey.”

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.

New housing developments don’t have the feeling. Many homes that are in the 20-year-old time frame don’t have it either. People don’t plant shade trees in their yard anymore. They plant cute flowering trees at “strategic” spots but not the larger shade trees that make patios and decks more hospitable in the summer.

I remember buying a home in New Jersey. I walked into the house and could see out the back French doors. There were large maples on either side and the yard was welcoming from inside the house. We bought it.

Buying a house is an emotional purchase. It has to feel right.

Of course we immediately built a huge addition that required removal of one of the maples but I worked hard to save the other. I was rewarded that fall with a brilliantly colored tree peeking in my windows.

I miss that house. It had a lot of good stuff after I removed the mismatched peacock wallpaper, the dusty peach carpeting and repainted the pink bathroom. It was early 50s all the way and no one had altered that.

That was ok with me as it was priced right.

What makes a house feel like a home for you?

 

 

 

71 thoughts on “Feeling home

  1. I love your welcoming front entrance, Kate. We moved to Florida in 1999 and bought a house the following year. I really miss the one we left behind in Central New York – a house that we’d had built for us. What makes a home for me, however, is family – and ours was near where we moved. So we get to see each other quite often. If you do move, I hope you find the “it” house you’ve been dreaming of. 😉

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  2. Light! My last place was so dark I had all the lights on at noon. The first time I walked in my current place I had to reach for my sunglasses… sometimes when I’m leaving in the morning I look for the light I left on… but it’s the sun! I love the light!

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    • Light is so important to me too. I bought a house a long time ago and brought in an electrician to add lighting to the kitchen because it was so dark despite having a huge southern exposure window. He said, “Lady, change out the light bulbs. Someone has 25 watts in these fixtures. Bump them up!” I felt so stupid. Who would put such small powered bulbs in the kitchen ceiling lights?

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  3. I also love homey. To me it means welcoming and, above all, warm. I don’t like “cold” exteriors or interiors. So generally warm colors or a good mix of both warm with some cool. Your front door area is beautiful. I’m sure people will be banging that door down to buy it when you find something.

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  4. Hmmm… interesting question about “feeling home”… ! Trees for sure, big Oaks. But I have to say CH and I are both getting tired of all the stuff they drop to the ground. But I so love shade and I love the trees in the Fall… the smell of Fall is all about the trees. Quiet, which is ridiculously hard to find. After dinner, I am done with the day and I just want to relax on the porch and I don’t want to have to listen to noise… it’s time to call it a day. A great porch and private backyard with lots of birds. And after 10 years of rural isolation, I would like to be closer to all the cool conveniences of city life again. I wouldn’t mind living on the water again but not a party lake. We are looking and know a downsize is coming. Just don’t know when or where… 🙂 I am pretty sure I want a new home with a few bells and whistles, on a golf course would be great. A great kitchen, A Porch, two master suites and an additional half or full bath. The front of your home is beautiful!

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    • I would so love to live on the water but we only have a river that floods here. Beachside is so expensive now. Your wishes sound wonderful. I like quiet but although our neighborhood is fairly quiet, we can hear a train about 2 miles away and there is an interstate a mile away. We can’t hear it all the time but when the air is dense there is a low hum of traffic.

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      • We don’t have a train, but that would not bother me… done that before. Highway 54 is two miles from us and we hear a low hum now and then when the wind is from the north. I am talking about ATVs, agriculture equipment, old beater farm trucks, and gun shots… all charming, with the exception of target practice, when we first moved here… 🙂 I would do lake living again, not ocean.

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  5. Hmm this made me think, too. For me it’s two things – the yard/trees and the kitchen. If I can see myself standing and stirring in the kitchen that’s a grabber but, like you, I want some shade trees and color. Those barren new developments with houses standing silently on their own make me sad. No thanks – give me a lived in house, one who has seen a generation at least, and, like an old dog, is just thankful for a good pet from a loving owner.

    Wonderful post!
    MJ

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    • Love your comment on the dog. So, so true. You are also right about the kitchen. I can see possibilities in an old kitchen and I’m not afraid of remodeling but some houses just don’t have that. We looked at over-55 communities most of which were brand new or fairly new and my biggest beef was that there were no trees and there were restrictions about planting them. We replaced a diseased tree last year with a beautiful honey locust. We got the largest size we could (within reason) but it will take a few more years to get real shade out of it and it’s right by the patio. Damn! I am taking that tree with me if I move! I’m running out of time to wait for trees to grow!

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  6. I couldn’t agree more Kate! We have looked at about a zillion houses and that’s all they are…structures. If it’s not stepping into a time warp they are so stark you wonder if popsicle people are the owners. I need to feel the warmth right from the threshold. I need to feel the love inside & out.
    Your home looks says “hey, come on in”

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  7. I am in complete agreement with you, Kate. It’s all about the trees, and the yard in general for me. Southern California is heavily populated with new developments with beautiful large homes, but the absence of established shade trees and gardening space leaves me cold. I’ll take my older home with the large central oak tree–which by now adds tremendous shade, and I can’t really imagine giving it up.although we could stand to downsize as well! At least you absolutely know what you must have if you decide a change is really in your best interest.

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      • Thanks, Kate. Your comment made me smile ~ and I’ve given your question a bit more thought. HOME, for now at least, means NO SNOW to shovel in the winter and lots of palm trees swaying in the breeze year round.

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  8. Wonderful post Kate! Your search for that homey feeling is hard to come by with the hard lines and modern approaches to new homes today. Back yards are all important with shade trees and places to just sit and ponder. And oddly enough I look for how the light comes inside, the reflections of sunlight and dappled shade. I think it’s the light that makes a home homey and thank you for making me think about that. ~Dor

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    • I’m not fond of a dark house. My childhood house was dark when my parents bought it but they ripped things out and opened walls before we moved in. When I think about it, it was small by today’s standards but worked just fine for us. Your home in the country is beautiful. I love your deck with the view.

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  9. I agree about the back yard– I just love big old trees. Your current house looks lovely!

    Inside, though, I need an open floor plan in the kitchen — I will never again have a house where, when we have guests, I get stuck in a tiny kitchen while everybody else is in another room … I feel like the serving wench! And I absolutely require a window over the sink.

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    • A wench! My husband has always wanted one of those! My kitchen isn’t small but I’d like it bigger! I get more annoyed when guests come pester me when I’m doing the finishing touches of dinner. I like the flow but I also like some privacy at the end or I screw something up.

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  10. Many people from the mid-west and east moved to California and have tried to re-create their version of “home” (huge trees, lawns, bunches of flowers). Soon they realized that it takes a lot of water to maintain the look, and the water wasn’t conveniently falling from the sky. Since I grew up here, “home” to me includes succulents and other low-water vegetation (including some really beautiful trees and tall bushes). Many have gorgeous flowers and wonderful structure. Astroturf is just wrong in so many ways.

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    • I’ve heard that before. For a short period I had a home along the Jersey coast. Conditions there are more brutal with wind and salt spray and high humidity. I was lucky to have a tree in my yard but it was a smaller stunted one but beautiful none the less. However the hydrangea was just gorgeous. Each environment has it’s own beauty. Astroturf is wrong but I often hear people locally threaten to cement their yards and paint them green because the grass is work.

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  11. Tough question for me. I have a very long draft blog post talking about our house. We’ve been looking for close to 5 years and I have yet to find the ‘perfect’ house!

    Trees and a garden mean so much to me. And like you, I want big, established trees. It almost makes me cry when I see developers clear-cut big beautiful trees just so they can jam in a few more nondescript houses.

    We have an enormous sugar maple on the side of our place. The arborist says its at the end of its life. We’ve lived in hurricane and tornado country and I’m well aware of the damage that can be done by trees … but I’d still rather take my chances and have that dappled sunlight on the patio.

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    • In my husband’s last development (which was fairly new), no one ever used their decks and patios because it was too hot. Yet no one planted shade trees anywhere near them. I love that dappled shade.

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  12. Oh, I hear you! I never understood just ripping down the big old trees in new subdivisions and planting new ones. Why couldn’t they leave some of the old ones instead?!

    Trees, I love trees so much. Our house is on a corner, with four large Brazilian pepper trees around it, planted 60 some years ago. There’s a huge orange tree in our backyard. It smells like paradise when in bloom. Across the street is a massive Australian star pine. Other neighbors complain about the peppers, the pinecones, and the leaves and hint that they should come down.

    Ha. We planted more trees as soon as we moved in. Lemon, fig, plum, pear, pine, and a weeping willow over our fountain. Our backyard is like a courtyard. I don’t have gorgeous fall colors like you do, but I can make my own orange juice. 🙂

    Of course, now that there’s a drought on, we have buckets in the bathrooms and horde every scrap of extra water to keep our trees alive. Wish us luck. And rain. Wish us rain.

    No, wish us a hurricane!

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  13. I’ve yet to find a place that feels like ‘home’ . I grew up in a house which morphed into a spectacular home as my parents made various additions as we kids grew and had different needs for space etc. The property had a huge front yard for playing and a huge backyard for fruit trees, vegetable garden etc. We were lucky kids!

    Since I moved away 20yrs ago I’ve never lived in a house since. Apartment living is very different and now with kids of my own playing in the backyard with the house just a few feet away is now replaced by trips to the park or playground where “MUST. BRING. SNACKS.” is the rule to be followed, or else!

    I’ve tried to make each rental as ‘homey’ as possible but there’s something about a rental that screams ‘temporary’ and in my mind that temporary feeling takes away from a place truly feeling like ‘home’. For as much as I decorate, the lease dictates the extent of changes I can make. Until I’ve purchased something of my own I doubt I’ll fully feel like it is MY home. But until then I’m simply grateful to have a roof over my head, be close to the train for my daily commute, and in walking distance from the beach, park, grocery and schools. I won’t mind buying something in this area since it is quite a convenient location. So who knows I may find a place to call ‘home’ one day soon.

    Thanks for sparking the thought. Great post 🙂

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  14. I think having vision helped me make my one and only house purchase (so far). I knew the bones of the house were good but needed some TLC. My backyard has shade toward the back where there are a couple of huge trees and sun, too. And, as you know, I’ve been enjoying gardening and landscaping. What I also love is my neighborhood. The streets are lined with flowering trees and tall maples. Makes for a nice, mostly shady walk. Is that a photo of your house? It’s gorgeous!

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    • Yes, that’s my front door and you’ll notice there is a large tree there. First thing we planted! I can do TLC and I can change colors and even remove walls but I can’t make a neighborhood landscape mature. That just takes time.

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  15. I’m with you Kate – the setting is so important. I love to garden, to sit outside and to look at trees, shrubs and flowers from inside. I guess that means a patio or deck and windows are important too 😉

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  16. Once I have “scanned the area” where the home is located (assuming ok!) then I know my new home partially when I see it as I approach it for the first time. Its appeal is a traditional design with frontage that allows for growth into a mature garden. I must be able to envisage the structure and the surrounding plants complimenting each other. The structure must not dominate. Any structure add-ons must be an esthetic compliment to the original design (which eliminates a large percentage of properties!). Inside must also be traditional. I do not like huge kitchen/diners/entertainment areas. The last home that I bought (this one) was built as a small cottage in 1920. I love it! 🙂

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  17. People more than anything else. But if you’re speaking of the house itself and the surrounding property, I don’t know how to answer that question. I think you walk into a home and just know. The feeling you get speaks to you before you even look around.

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    • You’re right and I suppose it’s different things for different houses. I walked into a house that smelled badly of dogs. I’m an animal person so I’m very tolerant but this was strong. I know I would clean it and replace the carpeting but it was a huge turnoff and limited any vision I had about the house.

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  18. I’m with you, a house must feel like a home or I won’t buy it. As for what makes it a home to me: landscaping outside that includes trees, bushes, flowers; a color scheme on the inside that flows from room-to-room; AND personal items such as antiques or memorabilia or artwork that has meaning for the residents. Without those variable, it’s just another house.

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  19. Looks beautiful! We are moving into another rental here instead of buying. We wanted more room but just aren’t ready to commit to a purchase yet. Rentals are temporary, but after you move everything in it still becomes a home. Home is where you feel comfortable. Don’t move until you’re mentally ready to do so.

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    • You are my hero! You moved cross country to retire. That’s kind of scary! Renting in that case is a good decision. By the time you purchase (if you do), you will know exactly what you are looking for and where you want to live.

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