Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Character of a Home

This is not my home just one I admired once during a garden tour!

I just love character homes! On the weekend when I flick through the pages of the real estate brochure that accompanies the local newspaper, I am often prone to comment 'These houses are all the same - they have no character!' Then I see one which has something that sets it apart from the rest. It has character! Character may mean different things to different people but when I think of character homes I tend to think of older homes with period features intact. On the outside - a veranda perhaps, a pergola to grow roses over, timber windows, French doors. Inside I think a home has character when I see timber floors, exposed beams, a stone fireplace, lead light windows, a Farmhouse kitchen, a claw foot bath.

I like to think my own home has some character in its woodland setting. It was owner built in the 1970's and we have spent the past eight years giving it more character - ripping out brown aluminium windows and installing French doors, painting the existing pergola and our hand- applied render antique white.

A home does not have to be old to have character. A new home can have character in its cleverly thought out floor plan, polished floors, its wrought iron staircase and unique features that the owners incorporated. Many choose to build new homes that remind them of past eras, clever people, they receive modern conveniences without the maintenance an older home requires.

Size does not determine character. A humble cottage can have just as much character, possibly more than an expansive villa on a country estate. An owner built mud brick or straw bale home has character with its unique and possibly quirky features added by its creative owners.

Many home owners catch the renovation bug as we have done and spend many enjoyable hours adding character to their home. Our first home was a humble 'Hardiplank' home in a country town in New Zealand. We ripped out the dark laminate kitchen with its orange bench tops and my husband built me my first real country style kitchen complete with an antique iron wheel above the timber island to hang pots and pans from. I loved that kitchen and it was compensation for the laminate bathroom with yellow bubble glass shower panel that we never got round to replacing! The kitchen eventually sold the house as did the unusual brick fireplace built by my husband.

In our present home, I have my dream bathroom - a 'new' claw foot bath and timber vanity.

I love my copper taps - to me copper adds character - I wanted something different.

Even your chosen decorator choices can add character. This is my copper urn that holds all the vanity clutter - practical and beautiful!

My home has modern conveniences - a glass panel shower in the en suite bathroom is unobtrusive but the vanity that sits alongside it did not come from Harvey Norman! It is an old timber washstand with a new bowl and tap and my favourite feature, the vintage dragonfly design tiles found on eBay. The mirror was $20 from a garage sale! I just wanted something different to your average white laminate bathroom vanity. For me it is another feature that adds character to my home.

This post is about the character of a home but it is not really about renovating a home. It is actually a lead in to a short series of posts I would like to write about the character of the family home. What characterizes your home? I'm not asking about its design features as much as I love to see beautiful homes on the pages of blogs and magazines. I am asking about what life is like within the four walls of your dwelling? One can live in a beautiful home with ornate features but what true character refers to is the life lived by its occupants.

It is more important for you to work on building their character than to spend countless hours adding character to bricks and mortar. This is not to say you neglect home repairs and renovations. Our children worked alongside us as we built our home - it was a joint labour of love as we built the extension onto our home to accommodate our growing family - opportunities for character lessons even! You have to learn patience during renovations! And how to work alongside each other. Finding the balance. Sometimes you have to down tools and take a drive to the beach, take a walk in the woods or go and play in the park!

I am blessed to have a lovely home in one of the most beautiful valleys in my region. There is usually peace in my valley (except at 5am when the kookaburras start up!) but is there peace in my home? It is a question I often ask myself! A home can have character but that fades into insignificance and goes unnoticed when the days are filled with strife, stress, arguments, raised voices, yelling at each other, unpleasant words and name calling. My house has solid foundations in the physical - it was one of the first aspects of the building we checked out. But what of its spiritual foundation? For my family we have chosen to build our home on the rock - that is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one we turn to when we want to know how to build character into the lives of our children. So many lessons about life and true character can be found in the Bible. It is our blueprint for building our family life!

The time you have to build the character of your children goes by quickly. The older brother in this photo is about to drive himself into the city for a uni exam he has to sit today! He passed his driving test last week! I am so thankful to be a praying parent!

So what are you doing to build character in your home? I'm not asking about your renovations, though I do like to read about what others are building, crafting, sewing and painting. The question is referring to what you are doing on a daily basis to build character into the lives of the people you share your lovely home and this wonderful life with. Good things - like joy and laughter, right attitudes, kind words and good deeds. These are just some of the characteristics I have vowed to work hard at to see come to fruition in my home and in the lives of the children we are raising. I would love to share with you some very practical ways in which we as a family go about this. So watch out for my next post which will cover two of the characteristics that are sometimes a challenge for us all to demonstrate - kind words and good deeds which really do go hand in hand but the outworking of these will reap a harvest not only in the home but far beyond its four walls.

With Love and Joy,

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Niki said...

What a great post Ann. Such an interesting question. I guess what stands out to me more than anything in terms of character building & happiness in our home is....I am always here. I am lucky enough to be at home, morning noon & night. I have never had to send my kids to daycare etc. When they walk through the door I am here-usually in the kitchen making their snacks. When they wake up I am here, not rushing & cursing trying to get out the door for work. When they are sick I stop everything & just "nurse". I know this is not for everyone or is possible for some, but its the way we parent. Very much involved & one on one. I am lucky I have a wonderful husband who is very much apart of the kids lives. He works hours so as he is home when they get in from school, then its footy, gardening, games etc.
While I cook & potter. It sounds old fashioned, but it works for us & our kids seem pretty well balanced & confident. So that is just one of the ways I try to make a "Sanctuary" for my kiddos.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Lovely post Ann...
Hmmm? That question you pose has many answers for me,But Similarly to above,I get to be here....To be the 'BACKBONE" OF MY LITTLE FAMILY.
There is also just a "feeling" as you arrive at drive down our windy driveway of 'being home" and the eyebrows unknit and Ahhhhh Home!

SF said...

Love it, Ann! Can't wait to hear more. :) xo

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Ann. I am looking forward to your next post.The challenge for me is to be the good example that I would like my children to be and I know that comes from walking with our Lord Jesus Christ.Thankyou. Angela

Camille said...

Dear Ann ~ I hear your heart here in this post and it is beautiful! How precious that the LORD is WITH us in this journey!! Thanks for this thought provoking post...it has been a blessing to visit here today. :)

In His Love,

Parisienne Farmgirl said...

Ann, what a wonderful post. Beauty inside and out... just like with ourselves... if what is going on behind closed doors is rotten and ugly and does not honor God than we should not be concerned about if our home "looks" charming or not.
You're thinking eternally and I love it!

Renata said...

What a beautiful post Ann! So true what you said - it's what's inside a home that counts. I know that our home has been much more peaceful since we started home schooling (which really doesn't make sense). I like to think our home is filled with love & prayers & kindness & fun - as for character - you know it's an old 70/80's farmhouse - complete with red brick that we intend to render at some point ( in fact we have lots of plans - just need time & money :) )
Hope you enjoy your beautiful family
Looking forward to this series of posts

Elinor said...

I really enjoyed reading your post, and I look forward to reading the other two in the series you have planned. I have to agree with Renata - homeschooling our children - the opportunity to spend quality time together. To talk without time restriction, to learn together. It has also given us many challenges and we learn how to behave towards each other every day. I thank God that he provided a way for us to homeschool. For our Bible study at the moment I read a chapter out of the Bible (we are reading Matthew at the moment) but we sit and discuss the chapter and what was being said and what we can learn from it. The children ask so many questions and we end up discussing things in length that we normally only have time to read one chapter - big grin.

Suzanne said...

Ann, I loved that you said your building your foundation on the rock--of Christ. I often feel the lack of Christ when I enter homes that do not embace this. For me, trying to keep that focus daily is key--we fail miserably, but the peace one feels in their own home is only due to the love of Christ and its living and breathing that to each other each minute of each day:-)

Unknown said...

Love the old character homes also..and your bathroom!!

Well my husband and I are going to talk more and get on computers less in the evening..or try too anyway!

Beth said...

What a lovely post, Ann! I really think your home is pretty. As far as the character of our home is concerned, I'm not sure what it is but I do know that we have a lot of CHARACTERS that LIVE in our home!!
We like the craftsman style decorating and if we get a new house, we will most likely spend time tearing out the modern and adding old craftsman elements to it!
Have a lovely day!


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