Sticks and Bricks

by Valentine Interiors And Design.

As designers, we often receive the brief to ‘make it feel like home.’ Hidden within this simple request is a complexity that can confound. 

Is home simply the four walls that bound the space where we live? Or is that a house? What is home is a complex question. One we feel is deserving of unpacking.

Intriguingly, unpacking this question is not unlike the unpacking we must attend to when we move house, or is that move home? The practical task often collides with a more profound experience. 

Unpacking our belongings can usher up fond memories. An unraveling of moments where we have felt ‘at home’. The effortless times when all felt as it should, right. Those moments when time passed by almost imperceptibly.

What is it that we have woven into our belongings that they elicit such a response? How does the prosaic become treasured? What is it that makes these simple things pieces of us? Those belongings that mark a house as a home, as our home. After all, haven’t we all uttered, ‘it won’t feel like home until…’

If our treasured belongings might be more than what they appear to be, it follows that it is only because of us that they have become something more. If we extend that thinking, a home might just, in part, be made of us, not just sticks and bricks. A home transcends the physical. A home is somewhere of memories, relationships, emotions, and people.  

If so, the pertinent question may not be ‘what is home?’ but rather ‘what makes a home?’ The logical answer to this question must be us. The people who inhabit a building, a volume, or a space make it home, not just any home but their home. 

‘My home is made out of people. They are the familiar walls that wrap around me and make me feel safe. They are the windows through which I can observe the world from new perspectives. They are the doorways that beckon me to step into new adventures and better relationships. they are the roof that keeps me in check.’ (Smith, 2019) (1)

Because home is how we feel, not simply where we are, nor is it a physical form such as a house. A home isn’t just where you are but also who you are. (2) Home is the feeling of safety, comfort, and contentment. Most of all, home is where we lose ourselves in these feelings. 

In this notion, we can crack the code, as it were, and devise that home can be anywhere at all. It need not be a building. It is where you form your identity and your sense of belonging. In that way, for some people, home is the sea; for others, it is the road.

If we accept that ‘home’ is the label we apply to the places where we feel ‘at home’ rather than the building itself, then conversely, the labels we apply to rooms within that building might be of little use. After all, how many of us have the ‘butler’ that a Butler’s Pantry logically requires.

It’s a curious concept that once understood, reveals a profound opportunity for us as designers. To let go of the predetermined idea of a house as a series of labeled rooms and the baggage that comes with that. Instead, we can imagine a home as a series of feelings elicited from the spaces we create. 

To do so requires genuinely understanding our clients, not simply discussing a list of their likes and wants but diving deeply into their experiences and memories of feeling at home. We can tap into these memories and our client’s hopes for the future by listening, really listening. We can measure what truly matters to the individual and how they want to feel through these conversations. 

In this way, we believe it is possible to ‘make it feel like home,’ to create a place that our clients crave being in, a place that is just for them and of them, a place that will always be uniquely theirs. 

(1) Smith, G., 2019. We are Here. 1st ed. South Melbourne, VIC: Affirm Press.

(2) Mcdonald-Timms, S., We are Here. 1st ed. South Melbourne, VIC: Affirm Press.