A home is something much more tangible, a reflection of ourselves.
I guess you and I are interested in making a nice home, and I for one could spend hours looking through glossy design magazines, lovingly poring through someone’s ideal home ideas, storing plans away for inspiration for the future,wondering also how could they possibly charge so much for, say, those cute salt and pepper sets or fabulous individually hand-cut crystal wine glasses from somewhere in deepest Austria, or luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets you need a mortgage for.
But one thing always springs to mind when I see these images – yes they are lovely, they are mesmerising and desirable, they make me yearn for a more open, tidy, inspired – cleaner even! – home, but they don’t actually look lived In. Who on earth has cushions that sit just so, or placemats that stay where you put them? A house could be filled with the finest furnishings money can buy, but it doesn’t make it a home. Home is comforting, somewhere you can kick off the shoes and they will stay in the corner until you need them again. Home is a sanctuary, somewhere you can close the door and shut the day out, especially if it’s been particularly rotten or frustrating.
Home is cosy – newspapers strewn about with the page folded back that has the half-finished crossword showing, coffee cups left on the table, dog snot on your newly cleaned windows, laundry piling up to be either washed or ironed (yes even I have been known to use an iron now and again!). Fridge magnets holding half-written shopping lists long-since replaced, or phone numbers for a plumber or an electrician or a chimney sweep – you can’t remember who but won’t throw them out because as soon as you do, you will remember who they were for.
Home is comfy – it still has a dent on the edge of the bed where you sat to pull on socks, it’s the sight of freshly laundered sheets flapping in the breeze, dog hairs on the sofa where somebody sneaked up after dark for a nap while you weren’t looking. It’s the picture of your Dad a little lopsided hanging on the wall, above the clock that has said 2.35 am for weeks, waiting for a new battery.
Most importantly, those glossy magazine images may be perfect, but a home isn’t. A home is something special, people themselves make it home. I love to travel, but as the saying goes - the magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back to and it’s lovely to get home to your own bed, even if the sheets aren’t Egyptian cotton!
Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man.