What Makes A House a Home?

Houses are defined as a buildings meant for human habitation- especially one that is lived in by a family or small group of people. A simple house is so much different than a Home, though… But what is it that takes one and transforms it in such a manner?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the issue of “House” vs “Home” lately… Probably because my Husband and I have decided to stay right where we are for the foreseeable future. And while our house has started to feel quite a lot like home over the four years we’ve lived here, it’s still not quite there just yet. In thinking about it, though, I’ve realized two things:

1. That a “Home” is very different than a “House”, and
2. That both are incredibly undervalued.

The later realization isn’t exactly a new one for me. I was homeless in the early years just after High School, and you very quickly realize just how important four walls and a roof can be in those circumstances. Still, it didn’t quite impact me just how much I’d continued to take even a house for granted- even with the realization that not all houses are homes in my mind.

Our houses are easily one of the most important parts of our lives and every day routines… They provide us with shelter from the elements, and a place to store our personal belongings. They also provide a place to eat, sleep, get ready for work, relax after a hard day, and even celebrate all the little events of life; we do so much under their roofs. And yet despite all they do for us, sometimes we tend to forget just how important they actually are.

A simple house, though, is so much different than a Home. And creating a Home? Well that’s something important to all of us, whether we realize it or not… But what is it that takes a house and transforms it in such a manner? The answer’s less concrete than you can possibly imagine.

If you ask your friends, you’ll probably get very different answers from each one of them… After all, the concept of Home means something different to everyone. For many people, though, their Home centers around items they accumulate: The clothes and the cookware, furniture, their decorations, and so on. But while these items certainly play an important role in the process overall? On their own they’re furnishings meant to fill up space- whether for increased functionality, or for aesthetics.

They’re not a home


Despite the variation of answers, though, one thing rings true: “Home is where the Heart is”; Joseph C. Neal wrote that as part of a story published in Graham’s Magazine in 1847 (just in case you were ever curious where it’d come from). It was true in the context of the story it was published in back then, sure. But it’s just as true in the modern age.

Our Homes are indeed where our hearts are… And if we wish to make a home, we can’t separate it from the house we wish to make it in. Instead we must poor our hearts and souls into them- almost literally. In other words, making a house into a Home requires you to fill it in such a way that it makes it yours- allowing it to become an extension, and reflection, of yourself in such a way that it becomes more than a place you eat, bathe, watch tv, or sleep… But a safe haven; somewhere you have a positive emotional response to.

In other words, those places that we make our Home are an extension of us. And without realizing it, they tell a story to all who enter them about who we are; what we believe, what we are feeling, what we want from life, and so much more; they’re a reflection of us as individuals- not physically, but emotionally as well.

Or, to put it plain man’s terms: What truly transforms a simple house into our Home boils down the emotional connection that we share with our living environments; the fondness we hold in our hearts for them, and the joy that fills us when we think of being there.

This emotional connection to our Homes is dependent on our overall happiness and comfort within this environment- and this emotional connection itself is made up of several parts. The first part, for all I harped on how objects do not a home make, is actually done through decorating it; we are, if nothing else, visual creatures. And if enjoying your space is integral to forming an emotional connection with it? Then creating a visually appealing space is a rational part of that.

And still, it’s barley a scratch on the surface; you can’t simply step into a house, decorate it, and expect it to feel like home… There’s much more to creating that emotional connection to our environment than simply filling it with stuff.

The largest part of this transformation develops on its own over time- and it’s developed through the active use of this space; through the Daily Rituals and Traditions we create… The people we share it with- either temporarily as guests, permanently as lovers, or anything in between… And (most importantly) the Memories contained within it.  These are the things that ultimately create a stronger connection to our environment than simply decorating it can possibly achieve.

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Photograph used in the post banner © Jon Tyson via Unsplash

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