• Caitlin Keely Gemmell

Monday Morning Pages: what makes a house a home?


Image description: the entrance to a house in the countryside. Caitlin, a white woman wearing a feminine, white robe with lace cuffs, holds a woodpecker feather and an antique bottle filled with white hydrangeas in her hand in front of an antique, rustic white woodpecker cast iron door knocker.


A while back I started sharing snippets from my morning pages to my Instagram with the hashtag #mondaymorningpages. I had intended to keep this up, but of course I didn’t. There’s a certain vulnerability that comes with sharing one’s writing, especially one’s writing from one’s private journal. And yet I like the idea of sharing from my journal. The writing is rough around the edges, but honest and unfiltered. So, how’s this? I’ll share when I’m feeling brave, and keep quiet when not.


Without further ado... a snippet from my morning pages. Today’s involved thoughts on turning a house into a home.

What makes a house a home?

Lately I’ve been revisiting one of my favorite books, Romancing the Ordinary. I also just finished my reread of Anne’s House of Dreams. I suppose my thoughts have been preoccupied with the concept of nesting and transforming a house into a home, and this has spilled over to my reading choices.


The thing is, I haven’t felt at home in a very long time, since I left England fifteen years ago. That’s a long time to feel displaced. During that time I have lived in my current upstate New York location, in a forest in Kentucky, near the ocean in San Francisco, and in a rural setting in western New York. I’ve returned home to England for a visit or five, briefly traveled through my old home in Tulsa, and dreamed of traveling to my family’s plot of land in Maine.

The funny thing is, though I’ve traveled and moved a lot I’m a homebody at heart. I dream of putting down roots and growing old in a beautiful home that my son will inherit one day. A home that he will love and grow old in and one day pass on to his children.

The other day I sat down and counted the number of houses I’ve lived in throughout my life. It was close to thirty! No wonder I feel so uprooted. Of those places, a few of them worked their way into my heart. There was the Swan Lake house, the Victorian house in Bournemouth, our New Forest home, my Fall Creek apartment with the window seat and walled garden. Four houses out of thirty ended up feeling like home. So why do so few of them scream home? Why are those few the golden ones, forever etched in my memories and often working their way into my dreams?

I suppose it could be in part that I lived in those places longer than the others, but that’s not exactly right as there were a few other houses or apartments I lived in for just as long as a couple of my “homes.”


I think it has more to do with the combination of the atmosphere of those places with my experiences in them. These places are filled with good memories, and full of character. These are the places with a certain charm, a unique personality. Those houses were ALIVE.

My current house is rather drab and grim looking, though it’s in the most enchanting setting ever! The woodland all around it, the wild plants that spring up everywhere, the abundance of wildlife and farm animals completely makes up for the rather dreary interior of my house.

Though this house has always felt like a temporary stopping point rather than a forever home, I’m still determined to make it seem like a home for my remaining time here.

So again I ask: What makes a house a home?


Some ideas


💐A house becomes a home when it is filled with objects one loves. I love beautiful, romantic things. antiques, objects with a story behind them, family heirlooms.


💐Beautiful objects should be used rather than just stared at. I use my fine china daily. My son and I have tea parties in which we use beautiful, floral cups and saucers.


💐A house becomes a home when it is a sanctuary. Make it a rule to have peaceful, quiet time in one’s house as often as possible. Meditate, maintain a regular yoga practice, indulge in naps, use quiet voices when indoors.

💐On the other hand, a house becomes a home when it is full of life. Allow room for messes. Bake with your child and let it be okay that flour ends up coating every surface. Laugh and play. See your child’s toys scattered everywhere as a blessing, for it means he is happy and plays and uses his imagination and is blessed to have objects that he loves and appreciates too!

💐A house becomes a home when every corner is filled with books. This should go without saying. Cherished books are everything!

💐A house becomes a home when one takes the time to hang beautiful art on the walls (including child art), and arrange pretty little corners with antiques, nature objects, vases of flowers, and dried flowers.

💐A house becomes a home when it is filled with pets. This one is tough for me as we keep talking about adopting another cat, but since Ginny died it’s been hard to even think of replacing her (not that another animal ever would or could replace Ginny). We still feel her absence like a heavy weight.

💐A house becomes a home when it is a place in which one does activities that are soul nourishing! For me this includes writing, putting together care parcels for friends, cooking, baking, needle felting, sketching, singing, journaling, reading, and watching favorite shows.

Is there anything you would add? What must be in place in order for a house to feel like a home? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you for reading my rambling thoughts from my morning pages. I’ll share more from my #mondaymorningpages when I feel ready.

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