I actually wrote this post (below) in 2008, but here’s an update! I’ve moved twice since this was written, but I still feel the same about my home today in 2016. I want to love the home I have, even if it isn’t the house of my dreams! Eight years later, I am still sharing this message and enjoying the journey of creating a home. The blog has grown to attract so many kindred spirits, I love sharing here every day. I even wrote a book called Love the Home You Have, which became a New York Times bestseller (released in March 2015) and The Inspired Room (November 2015).
Both books are about stepping away from designer portfolio-sized expectations and looking at your own home with a new perspective. It’s the little things we choose to do right where we are, with what we have, that make any house a home.
I have been trying to put together my virtual dream house, just for fun (inspired by my friend at Things That Inspire. I don’t know if this is just my schizophrenia coming out, my ADD, or plain indecisiveness, but images of my dream house can swing wildly from an English Cottage, to a French Chateau in the countryside to a Farmhouse with big square rooms and wide hallways. Big houses. Small houses. Winter Houses, Summer houses. White painted wood, dark wood. I can’t decide! What do I like best? I could be happy in so many different styles! So many options, so little time and money to try them all out. That is the problem, I like so many styles and ways of life. I can find a piece of my heart in all of them.
I am never faced with this sort of dilemma, having to choose one favorite. My dream house isn’t something I have ever created from scratch. In my life, you work with what you have and create your dreams under your own roof. You may not be living your one and only perfect life dream, but you’ve got to make everyday life an adventure! Explore new horizons!
My house right now has its own mood — a “cozy” Old World mood. There was no sense in making this house into something is isn’t — no happy-go-lucky relaxed summer look for this place. It has that “old house full of antiques and treasures from traveling the world look.” At least I imagine it does! It is big and rambling with lots of stairways and hallways. It feels kind of like an old European hotel. Fortunately for us we love that mood so we go with it rather than fight it or try to change it. But we should never be limited in our options by the style of house we already have. It really helps to work with it if it has a clearly defined style, but it isn’t always necessary. Sometimes mixing things up a bit makes a style more fun. And more unique and personal! We know our house isn’t exactly the house in our dreams. We just picture that we are in a castle somewhere in England. It probably doesn’t hurt that we have a vivid imagination.
What does your dream life look like? The one you would live if you could dial up design-a-life? Answering that question often helps us create the home of our dreams.
Our dream life includes romance, charm, adventure, travel and a sense of living in another time and place. Creating the right ambience is one of the keys to our sense of living our dream under our own roof.
One way we create ambience is with lighting. We love lamps and light fixtures to create the right mood.
That is one of the things we loved at first sight about our house — the antique light fixtures. Lantern style lights hang from the ceilings and many walls have antique sconces. In our house, the light fixtures themselves become a part of the fairytale life we imagine we are living. I know, we’re hopeless romantics!
We even choose our lightbulbs carefully. They must give off a warm glow and not be too bright (no use illuminating all our house’s flaws!). Our brightest bulbs are 60 watts and we don’t have too many of those. Most are 20-40 watts, often shaped with candle tips, and many small lamps have just nightlight wattage in them. We have warm yellow or reddish colored lampshades on the lamps to make everything glow like candlelight when the lights are on. All of our overhead fixtures have dimmers and most lamps have three way switches so we can light the house at night with wild abandon if we want to without doing much damage to our energy bill! And of course, we use lots of candles.
Houses can look too dark and dreary in the winter if we don’t pay careful attention to lighting. Especially for those of us living in climates that have lots of cloudy days. Dreary is not the mood we are after under any circumstances! Proper lighting can illuminate dark corners to make the whole room feel inviting. Because we choose warm, low wattage lights and charming lamps, the house has the romantic feel of another time and place. I like a house to glow and beckon you in to every corner. Warm lighting will summon you down long hallways and invite you to explore stairways. Proper lighting can define special places to sit with a cup of tea, to get lost in a book, invite you to a table to eat and encourages you to explore. Lighting welcomes you in and invites you to stay. Our house would take on a whole different feeling if the lighting was different. Lighting is very significant to the ambience of a home no matter what your dream house looks like.
Our dream could just as easily include a sun-filled house with Caribbean striped rugs and breezy sheers on open french doors. We’d still use light fixtures at night and in the winter to even out the light and define the spaces, but the style and mood would be entirely different. Life in that house would take on a new exciting chapter, where we would imagine waking up to the fresh air of the sea, dining every day in a sun-filled courtyard overlooking tropical flowers, and always having little paper umbrellas in our drinks.
Our life in a new house would still be adventurous, still romantic — taking us away to another time and place. A different house just brings a new chapter of our story. Dreams take on different hues at different times, reflecting what is all around us. Even if I never truly own my dream home (or never figure out what it would look like!) I am content right where we are now. In an Old English Castle. Yeah.
Stay tuned for future installments of Love the House You’re In and My Dream Home: The Series. Coming soon to The Inspired Room blog.
House drawings are all from houseplans.com, except for the first one which is from homeplans.com. Excellent resources for exploring dream styles and floorplans!