This post is a part of Starter Stories, a project for Urban Compass. Urban Compass is a real estate platform based in NYC that connects people searching for apartments with the neighborhood that matches their personality and taste. As you’ll soon see, finding the right neighborhood is just as important as finding the right home. A perfect house in a neighborhood that doesn’t feel like home won’t work.
I was blessed to come across homeownership early in life – at just twenty-two I bought my first house. It has been a good house for us, almost a dream. We actually listed our home for sale back in November and are awaiting a buyer so we can move back ‘home‘. Ah, see that word again. Is our house our home? It was, very happily. We added kids in the mix and now we desire a house closer to family for it to truly be a home.
One of my favorite parts of making this house into a home was decorating. We picked out paint colors for almost every room before we even moved in and it was our first priority before we moved our furniture or belongings. As soon as we had the keys in hand, we started painting. We spent our first several nights in our home on a mattress on the floor so we could paint. A vibrant red in the kitchen, a crazy collage of colors in the guest bedroom that would one day be a nursery. And polka dots in the bathroom – it was truly our home.
Last fall I painted over many of our bright, vibrant colors as we prepared our home to go on the market. We loved them, but we knew potential buyers may not feel the same. It’s been odd to live in a home that no longer really feels like ours. There are no family photos on the walls, sparse decor. Much of what made our house a real home is now packed away in boxes or has been painted over. I do have photos though and I have ideas for that future house that we’ll eventually call home back in our hometown.
Much of what I remember about this home, and the apartments we lived in prior to it, are the memories. Sure, I remember how I loved the huge pantry in our second apartment, and how I adore the giant laundry room I now have as well as the spacious storage in our basement. But mostly, I love the memories. Friends and family gathered around the large island in our kitchen, the times friends stayed for the weekend to watch college basketball tournaments, the birthday parties, and of course bringing my children home to their very own space. First steps, big decisions, and happiness set to a backdrop that we created.
My bright red kitchen was always more than just a color or a kitchen to me. My bright red kitchen was a dream turned reality. My son’s color blocked room was more than just an idea made real thanks to some painter’s tape and the local hardware store. The room was hope and light. The room was eventually a triumph over infertility and a little boy’s castle where he found a love of superheroes and a space to call his own.
So what really makes a house a home? I think it’s you. It’s what you put into your home, little pieces of yourself. It could be a vase, a paint color, or a rug. So long as it’s a little piece of your own personality brought to life for others to see.
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