One year ago, this little house in the country welcomed our family of five. We moved in with an infant snuggled on my chest and I remember during his two a.m. feedings the unfamiliar sounds of the late night train chugging by, the fierce country wind that would surely blow this house down if it wasn't made of bricks, and the comforting creak of hardwood floors as feet walked across it. When we moved here, we claimed this part of the country as our own and have become beginner farmers, backyard chasers, and four-wheel drivers. This home is a victory for us and we mean it when we say that we love it out here.

As we celebrate our one year house-iversary, it's easy to see how far we've come in creating a beautiful and hospitable home but there is still so much decorating and furniture purchasing that we need to do. I like to think that this house is our canvas and we the artist, dipping our brushes into the colors of creativity and then turning the picture we have in our heads into a reality. While there is still a to-do list a mile long, I'm trying to tell myself and my husband, "Well done."

One thing that sets women apart from one another is accepting praise for their homes.

I've been in some of my friends' homes and they are always pointing out to me the things that they want to do to their homes or things that they wish they could change. I have other friends who are embarrassed of their homes and never invite anyone over. Then there are the friends that are overly confident of their homes and openly tell you how expensive that chair is that you are sitting in. Earlier this week, I mentioned that I'm trying to accept praise from others and I think this is something that women struggle with when it comes to our homes. We are so concerned with what other people will think of our homes that when we have guests over, we are overly confident or totally insecure. But, I think this can change if we choose to love our homes, however complete or incomplete they might be.

Here are 10 Ways to Have a Home that You Love:

1. Be Patient

Home improvement projects and decorating take time and money. We've been working on our playroom for nine months now (first Raleigh demo'd the room and then contractors finished it) and I'm usually in a better mood about this project if I try to practice patience.

2. Get Creative

We have this pink rocking chair that was originally in the girls' nursery but in this house the pink chair has moved from our living room, to the playroom, and now it's hanging out in the office. It didn't match all the other chairs in the living room but it served a purpose as a place to sit.

3. Live in it

Raleigh has always told me that it's best if we live in a space before we decide how to use that space functionally. It took us a while to figure out what kind of seating arrangement worked in our living room corner but then one day we tried this arrangement and it just worked. Our goal is to replace those lamps and add curtains but I just love how everything has come together so far.

4. Simplify

A few weeks ago, we had another garage sale. I also consigned in a kids' market for the first time. Getting rid of your stuff is a pain but it is also freedom. Raleigh and I have a new philosophy when it comes to stuff - less really is more. Cleaning out my closet, I've gotten rid of clothes that I haven't worn in years and even though I have a smaller amount of clothes, I tend to wear what I love more often. I can also see what I need and make new purchases with the money I got from selling. It's really a life-changer and it's so simple.

5. Be Brave

Having a house in the country, we are surrounded by nature. This time of the year, frogs hop on into our garage at night and stick themselves to our kitchen windows. The first time I got out of my car and saw a frog inches from my feet, I jumped, scared to death! Now, a year later, I don't bother them and they don't bother me. :)

6. Get Messy

Back in the fall, I spent a weekend cooking freezer meals. Y'all, our kitchen was so full of pots and pans. It was a huge mess to clean up but it really was so much fun. I cooked more than I have ever cooked before but those meals became our go-to Sunday night dinners. I need to gear up and do another round for spring and summer!

7. Relax

One of my favorite memories of living in this house was after a thunderstorm last spring our whole family went outside after the rain. Raleigh and I sat in the rocking chairs with Ridley and the girls ran around in their pajamas until the sun went down. The grass had that after-rain smell and the flowers seemed to have bloomed instantly. I wish we chose to relax like that more often.

8. Don't Do It All Yourself

Seriously, don't. Contract work costs more but they move faster (at least, that's how it's been for us). Be smart with your time and your skill level.

9. Stop Comparing

It's true, comparison is the thief of joy. It steals hope quickly and turns the art that we once thought beautiful into something that's not as good as our neighbors'. But, it doesn't have to be that way.

10. Love Who You Share it With

We have a pillow in our living room that says, "What I love most about my home is whom I share it with." I wouldn't want to have gone through all the renovations of this home with anyone but Raleigh. Now that we've been living in this house for a year, I love the memories that we've already created as a family. Our home is the place where we are the most vulnerable, silly, and free to be who God created us to be. It's comforting to share this space with the people I love most.

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