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What Makes a House a Home? by Robin Trimingham

Bill Storie and Robin Trimingham are the co-founders of The Olderhood Group – an online retirement learning environment with over 70,000 global followers. In 2013 they launched a retirement planning blog which focuses on the issues related to the transition from the workplace to a... Read More

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What Makes a House a Home? by Robin Trimingham

“There’s no place like home.” Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz

This week I have been wondering whether it is possible to purposely create a feeling of “home” in a new place or whether it is the by-product of something else.

In one sense this might be a futile exercise because if your idea of home is a place that only existed in your childhood, then it is literally a place that you can never return to. I don’t really subscribe to this school of thought because it would mean that every adult on this planet is nothing more than a hollow nomad in search of the unobtainable, which is both illogical and untrue.

I do however believe that fear of “losing home” is one of the major reasons that so many older people resist moving to more suitable accommodation for as long as they possibly can. It is as if western society has evolved to the point that our sense of who we are has somehow become so completely interwoven with where we reside, that our sense of identity feels threatened at the mere thought of relocating.

How did we arrive at this unhappy juncture? Why is it so paralyzing for most people to think of setting up their old stuff in a new place? Are all our thoughts of happiness and comfort really tied to a particular location?

For many it would seem the answer is yes.

My ancestors, on the other hand, must have been nomads. I have just moved for the eleventh time in my life. I seem to only stay put for about three years on average and the longest I have ever stayed in one place is seven years.

I have bought and sold more washing machines than you would ever believe possible and I have been the proud foster parent of at least a dozen sofas. I do have a few treasured things that I would never part with but they tend to be very small bits of glass and ancestral tea cups.

I actually enjoy decorating and I have gotten pretty creative along the way as I try to make the decorating budget for the new place match the proceeds that I received from selling things from the old place. Putting my “personal stamp” on a place whether it is owned or rented help me recover that “this is my home and I belong here” sensation that makes me smile when I see the afternoon sun streaming through the curtains.

Along the way, I have learned a few things that just might make settling in a little easier:

  • Set up the kitchen and start cooking (even baking) as soon as possible.
  • Always buy new drapes – windows come in all shapes and sizes and your old drapes are just going to drag down your new place.
  • Most people do not have the same taste in light fixtures – if at all feasible replace wall and ceiling fixtures right away (particularly in the bathroom).
  • Get fluffy new bath towels – save the old ones for the dog or donate them to a shelter.
  • Figure out the sunniest spot (or shadiest as you prefer) and put a chair their right away.
  • Do something small but indulgent that you never did at your old place like treating yourself to breakfast in bed, or curling up with a blanket on the sofa and good book
  • Line up some small home improvement projects to put your personal stamp on your new place – sew some pillows, build a bookcase, plant some flowers, paint a wall
  • Make a point of meeting the neighbors – they are new friends yet to be

By Robin Trimingham