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Houses have windows, homes have stories

My 5-year-old daughter is obsessed with words. She spends her days at school learning sounds of words, what words mean, how to spell words and how to read words. So, when I said to my husband the other day, “We’ve really made this house a home, haven’t we?”, she quickly replied “House and home are the same word!”

Having lived in a fixer-upper for nearly as long as she can remember, I knew she’d understand when I sat down to explain to her the difference between a house and home. I started by saying, “houses have windows, homes have stories.”

While my family has spent the past nearly four years making what was a barely livable house a home, I still believe that it’s not the walls or the flooring, or the decor that make the places we live home.

What makes a house a home?

Think about your home — what comes to mind?

For me, I think of my family. I also think of smells – delicious food cooking in the oven or simmering on the stove. I think of the games we play here, the laughter, the memories created in the simplest of moments. I think of reading books on a rainy day in a comfortable chair. I picture Saturday morning pancakes.

All of these things have nothing to do with what a house looks like, what kind of countertops it has, or how shiny and new it is. The most important things are who you are with, and what the moments are made of.

Embrace the stories your home has to tell.

Think about all the times you’ve put your kids to bed giggling. The times a meal has been wrecked and you had to order pizza. The times you laughed so hard at something your child said, your gut hurt. Those are the moments that matter.

Those are the things that make the places we call home. Not the pretty stuff on the walls, or the view. It’s the moments you create in your house that make it home.

Making memories at home…

Photo by Remodeling This Life

Creating memories and making a home is not always as easy as laughing at someone messing up dinner, or having a big tickle fest at bedtime. Sometimes you have to create moments, make memories that will last – if not a lifetime, at least a little while.

If I had to choose between painting my living room or giving my kids an afternoon with finger paint, I’d take the finger painting any day. Making a space that is safe and comfortable for everyone to create is so important.

For me, home is providing a place for everyone to know it is okay to make a mess.  Home is a place where creating and learning and enjoying life is more important than white walls and perfect furniture.

The place you live is just that – a place to live. Home – whether rented or owned, big or small, new or old – is what you do, who you are with, and the memories you make.

What makes your house a home?

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. sharizat

    I agree wholeheartedly. Things are not more than just things, what makes house a home is the memories. What makes my house a home is mostly the laughter, the tears, the artsy mess and just moments spent together…
    .-= sharizat ´s last blog ..55th =-.

  2. Julie

    Thanks for this post. I agree, the memories and the relationships make a house a “home”. I read an article a while ago talking about how very few people stay in their houses long-term these days. People prefer to invest in property, then sell, make a profit and re-invest, moving to a better suburb etc. The article was discussing how sad it is that our children won’t be able to “come home” to that place where all their childhood memories were formed (in the way that many of us can). Of course, if our children can come home feeling secure in the love and support of their family, it doesn’t really matter where the “four walls” are.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..Medical money saving tip =-.

  3. 7294cottageway

    “Hoe is where you story begins”…that sign is everywhere right now…and so true. It is where it begins, grows and develops each chapter! Love this post its what I call a “perspective” post…keeping granite counter tops and all things “house” in perspective of “home”. Great blog…just started mine this week…this is fun!

  4. 7294cottageway

    I meant HoMe…my M is getting stuck on my keyboard:)

  5. Kirsten

    what a beautiful post – and one that expresses my philosophy of house(home?)keeping exactly.

    My SIL is moving into a huge 4000sq ft house in June, and I had a conversation with my jealous self yesterday about the fact that no matter how big it is it isn’t MY home. My home is this crazy [Yellow] house that holds all the love laughing and creativity that are my family.
    .-= Kirsten´s last blog ..And it was all YELLOW =-.

  6. Beth @ Smart Family Tips

    This is lovely, Emily. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve found the more that our house becomes our home, the more I want to be there. I look at all the work we’ve done and the memories we’ve made and there are few places I’d rather be.

  7. Catie

    Great post! I would say having a place where we all are completely comfortable to be ourselves and where there’s stability are what makes home “home” for our family.
    .-= Catie´s last blog ..Happy Anniversary, Baby! =-.

  8. Tina @ Ride On Toys

    What you say is so true. Not only do I think that we make great memories in my home but we love to talk about them. One of our favorite fun things to do during the holidays is to bring out the old photo albums from years ago and laugh and talk about things that went on or things that we did. It gives such a sense of peace and contentment.
    .-= Tina @ Ride On Toys´s last blog ..The Radio Flyer Horse – Hi-Yo Silver, Away! =-.

  9. cagey

    I agree wholeheartedly, except that I wish my Jackson Pollack Tribute carpet would tell an entirely different story.
    .-= cagey´s last blog ..What’s cookin’, good lookin’? =-.

  10. Laura

    My husband and I have talked about moving in the recent months but have always decided against it because we can’t bare to leave the memories that we’ve made in our house. Good memories like babies being born and installing our own hardwood floors. Another house just wouldn’t be the same home.
    .-= Laura´s last blog ..An Afternoon Together =-.

  11. Laura @ PARING DOWN

    I agree about family memories. We’ve had many great ones inside and outside our home as well as with other family members in different homes and different places. The memories are what last – way more than the places!
    .-= Laura @ PARING DOWN´s last blog ..Paring Down Old Photos =-.

  12. ami

    wonderful thought to remember. What’s important are the relationships, the interactions, the activities, and the bonds. All you need is the shelter of a safe place to contain them – which is a lot smaller than a house big enough to corral all your stuff.
    .-= ami´s last blog ..Energy = Chaos Unless It’s Managed =-.

  13. rebekka

    I just love this!

  14. Lee

    We are still struggling with this. We are military, in a rental that we took sight unseen. The neighborhood and yard are great, but the interior is not. It is old and poorly laid out, resulting in very tight corridors to the bathroom (which has a very narrow door) and the kitchen, which has a pantry door that opens into the corridor. Then a narrow spot to get down the non-regulation stairs to the washer/dryer. With the 7 foot ceiling. This causes a lot of stress with 2 kids and their friends running around, or even carrying a laundry basket. It definitely affects the stress level of me and my husband. I keep trying to think about this being a chunk of my childrens’ childhood and make it better, but the little things add up all day. We keep de-cluttering more and have painted a couple of the darkest rooms (very little natural light) and it helps, but a different house would definitely make for better stories.
    .-= Lee´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

  15. Sharee

    I love this article! You are so right about what makes a home. My house is currently up for sale and at first I was very sad about leaving. I’ve made a lot of improvements to our home. My husband has moved to another state for work and I’m left behind with the kids trying to sell our house and now can’t wait for it to sell so we can be together as a family again in our new home. A house is just house I now realize.

  16. Nadene

    I love it that my 3 young daughters already know how to create a homely atmosphere … some flowers, candles, music playing in the background, biscuits fresh out of the oven, curtains closed and lamps on at night … It is these little touches that tell those who walk in the home that someone cares. (Not that this happens all the time!)
    .-= Nadene´s last blog ..Sitting Affects Handwriting! =-.

  17. Rana

    I totally agree. My brother in law moved hundreds of miles away and had a almost 4,000 square foot home built for him and his family. Now he and his wife are divorced and the kids have to bounce back and forth between two houses. Just because you have a big house and all the goodies that go with it does not mean a thing if the people living there are not happy.
    .-= Rana´s last blog ..It’s inventory time! =-.

  18. jeana

    You are absolutely right! I read this at just the time I needed to hear it most. Thanks!
    .-= jeana´s last blog ..Rainbow fun =-.

  19. Genevieve

    We live in the house I grew up in so my idea of home was challenged in 2008 when our family of 5 was blessed to able to live 1/2 the way around the globe in one of the most remote communities on earth. We took very little clothing, two ziploc bags of Legos and some art supplies and lived in a small, cinder block house with mismatched furniture, hand-me down sheets and nothing on the walls. But right away that house was home. I marveled at this and my husband said it was because home will always be wherever we are all together.

  20. Megan

    I agree! We live in a 100 year old house, so there is always a project to be done around here. But we also have a 2 year old and another little one on the way, so my husband and I spend most of our family time as a family, not as a handy-man/woman. It’s more important to us to create memories and a loving family than having a perfect house. Thanks for reinforcing this!
    .-= Megan´s last blog first apron! =-.

  21. Hannah

    Great post, and in answer to your question, one way I make our house more of a home is that I’ve arrived at a certain level of peace with imperfection. Specifically, I have a tolerable level of clutter — not much, but an amount I can live with at the end of the day, reminding myself that these are signs of life growing in our home.
    .-= Hannah´s last blog ..Happy St. Patrick’s Day! =-.

  22. Nicole

    “Houses Have Windows, Homes Have Stories” — what an incredible quote.

    Detroit, Michigan is where I grew up. It’s my first home forever. My mom used to sing a song to me as a child. I’m not sure who wrote it, but it’s called “Home is where the heart is.” Those words are ingrained in me forever. I have lived away from my family’s house for many years now, but never will the feelings of home leave any part of my being.

    At this point in my life my only “kids” are those of my friends. I hope one day to build a home just as my parents did, but for now I am blessed as my friends have brought me into their houses and made me part of their homes.

    Thanks for this amazing post.

  23. Rachel

    I really needed to read this post today! Thank you so much for your beautiful words! I go through the jealousy moments when I am with friends that have big houses and beautiful perfect furniture and dishes and decorations. But I always go back to the fact that our family is so happy and that happiness has nothing to do with my house or my things. We don’t have a lot of “things” but I am blessed to be able to stay home with our son, live in a great neighborhood with caring neighbors, have a loving supportive family and husband. Our home is small so we are always close to one another which allows us to learn to share and compromise. When I think of all these things I think of how wonderful my home is and what great memories and stories we are creating here.

  24. Mela

    oh i love your blog. full of inspiring posts that is helpful for a new mom and new wife like me. My husband and i plans to move into our new home next month and i vow to fill our new home with lots of good stories!
    .-= Mela´s last blog ..Busy As A Bumblebee =-.

  25. Jackie

    What a beautiful post. It really helps me stop and think about what’s really important. I will carry this post with me as I move through the weekend ~ looking at life, our home and our family in a different way. Thank you.
    .-= Jackie´s last blog ..Grow Potatoes in Straw =-.

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