Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Dream of Home

A Dream of Home

Perhaps it was all due to the rain.  Incessantly pounding the roof since midnight, sluicing through the gutters, splashing the windowpanes, rolling waves in the birdbath.  Or maybe it was just because of the big bowl of strawberries I’d consumed right before bed.  Whatever the reason, the nightmare felt real and though not typically scary in the traditional sense, it woke me with a start and left me, at least for a few horrifying seconds, in that eerie limbo of uncertainty.   Slowly,  familiar shapes began to come into focus.   There to the left was the window seat, with Apple sound asleep in the pillows.  There was the star-shaped ottoman.  There was the leather porter’s chair and best of all, I could feel the soft weight of Edward’s head resting on top of my feet.  I fell back on my pillow feeling reprieved.

I had dreamed we sold our home.  In exchange for our beloved quirky cottage, we had moved into a huge house with large, lavish rooms.  All four of us knew at once it was a mistake, but the situation was, apparently, immutable.  I wandered these alien rooms in my dream with a rising feeling of panic and grief in my heart.  What had we done?! 
 Oh, it was such a relief to awaken.

It is no secret that I am a nester.  Even in hotel rooms, I have been known to place fresh flowers at my bedside and drape silk shawls over lampshades.  I detest it when hotel windows will not open and I abhor overhead lighting.  My surroundings play a monumental role in my mood, a fact perhaps due to my years as a designer, though it is far more likely I became a designer because of that fact.   In my years helping others create the homes of their dreams, I saw my role as that of an interpreter - one who could accurately translate the personality of a client into the ambiance of their home.  It is such a harsh world; don’t we all need a sanctuary that is uniquely our own? 

 I have been known to turn down projects from clients whose stated motivation in hiring me was that they wanted to “wow” their friends.  I have no interest in that goal.  Life is short and I’ve found I'd rather write.  But at my recent book signing, a former client showed up with a request for my help with a few new projects, and I immediately accepted.   This is a woman who, like myself, feels a kinship with the place she calls home.  Like me, her home is a more than a shelter; it is a refuge.  It is a place where memories have seeped into the very brick and mortar - where echoes of long ago laughter can still be heard down the hallways and family portraits smile down from the walls.  It is a joy to be there.

A few years back, a friend visited our home for the first time.  Wandering around, he suddenly turned to me and said, “You know, it’s the strangest thing.  But this house feels like a lot of love has been here.”  How I adored that comment, for in those few words he managed to succinctly express exactly how I feel about my home.  The love we four share (and yes I’m including Edward and Apple.  Did you think I wouldn’t?) seems to find it’s way into the very fabrics that hang round the four-poster bed.  It is there in that creak in the floor just outside the library, in that living room window pane that requires constant washing because it’s the one Apple pushes her nose against when the squirrels are about.  This place is as much a part of us as our names and much like those of the Bloomsbury set who expressed themselves through the decoration of their adored Charleston, we are imprinted on its every nook and cranny.

Over the past few months, it has been a joy to read along as one of my friends, Brooke Giannetti, has been sharing the building of her new home through her wonderful blog, Velvet and Linen.  Through her words one can easily see that she and her husband, Steve, are not constructing a house to “wow” the neighbours, but a home to shelter their much-cherished family.  The thrill she feels over every doorway and fireplace brick is contagious and beautifully illustrative of the importance, and individuality, of home.
I encourage you to follow along HERE.

And tell me ... much like the creak in the floor outside my library,
 is there some beloved idiosyncrasy of your own home you’d like to share?  
The painting above is by Carl Larsson, 
someone else who recognized and celebrated the wonderful joys of home. 
This is one of my favourite compilations of his work.


  1. I agree with your thoughts. A home should reflect the person who lives there. There are Cold people that want that cold look
    and others who invite warmth.
    Myself, must have my treasures,
    print fabric, draperies, lots
    of windows.
    you write so well. yvonne

  2. The walls in my home, Pamela, are covered in pictures - most of them painted by people I know and love, some brought back from far-flung places. Every one holds memories.

    And as for including Edward and Apple in your family - Tess is part of our family and much loved. How could anyone be otherwise with a dog I wonder.

  3. Oh Pamela,
    I have had that dream many times and it's so lovely to wake up. In the dream I cannot fathom out just why we would have sold it !! We LOVE our home ( we've lived here for 27 years ) ..... it is full of creaks and draughts and little imperfections but, we still love it. Our last house was built in 1645 but this one was built in 1895 ....... you can imagine the creaks that went on in our old house !! ..... this Victorian one is a positive child compared to the last one !!
    Also, love Carl Larssons paintings . XXXX

  4. Of course. I agree with you too.
    People have said that my home feels very Irish which I take as a compliment and also that they find it 'quirky' and 'relaxing'.

  5. I had a home dream last night. A familiar old mansion (for lack of a better word) that is falling down and in need of repair. Home dreams are common it seems. This sounds sort of strange, but I used to move things around and re-decorate. Now, for the most part, I keep things as they are. Guess I must find comfort in that.

  6. Pamela, a wonderful painting! As a nester I love having my mementos, books, art, music, and the comfort it all brings me.

    I am so thankful that I can count you as one of my dear friends and family who have seen me through this difficult time.

    Love and Hugs,

    Art by Karena

  7. You and I and Brooke; (and I am sure many of your subscribers) share the same philosophy of houses.

    It should feel like an "autobiography"!!

  8. Pamela,

    I too am a nester, although I love to travel the world my favorite place to be is home. I love to be surrounded by my books, my art, my treasures and of course my husband and pup. It is the little things in life that bring the most joy.

    Brooke is a favorite blogger of mine, in fact I discovered her blog through you. Her kindness, joy and love of life and design is beautiful to read about. It is a joy to be able to follow along as she builds her dream house.

    Speaking of dreams, I dream of having a bed like yours with the curtains. I love the idea of being in a little cocoon at night and pulling the curtains shut to close out the world.

    Thank you for coming to visit, I highly recommend the hummingbird cake, and the frosting is scrumptious too!

    Have a wonderful week, Elizabeth

  9. Oh, I dream of houses all the time! Inevitable when one has lived and breathed them for her professional life and continuing obsession, I suppose. Our cottage built in 1928 (in a newly designated historic district) has plenty of quirks: the creaking floors and stairs, the cracks in the plaster that keep opening up no matter how much you spackle, the wood stained mouldings bearing the marks of the years like antique distressed furniture. But I love the signs of age, and I've tried to keep it true to its time. It's been our home for 25 years, and now it's time to sell. It's so hard! But my husband is retiring (I have already, though it was inadvertent), and we're moving to our mountain cabin, which is even smaller. Now I'm faced with how much do I try to spruce it up to sell? Will buyers not appreciate the nicks and dings, the creaks and cracks? Will they overlook the lovely sets of French doors or the charming triple casements over the kitchen sink or the worn warm patina of the hardwood floors? Will they love the huge old oak tree in front as much as I have? And most of all will they feel the aura of love and happiness shared here where we raised our two sons and an assortment of pets? I'm hoping for the right buyer who will love it and appreciate it, with all its imperfect quirks, as much as we have.

  10. Pamela, i have had the same nightmare. Home means so much to me. I believe it when you say you are imprinted in each nook and cranny. I really love my very small living room. Although initially I thought it would bother me, because I can't have too many people in it, it is so cozy that I hang out there all the time, which is not usually the case for a living room!
    xx Sunday

  11. When I first started reading House of Edward (over 4 years ago!), I felt as if I had known you forever. So many of your essays expressed my feelings, only in a much more eloquent way than I could ever achieve!
    I was not surprised to find out the we share the same need to create a house that is more about the life we share with the people and creatures we love than impressing others with our "stuff".

    When Steve and I started dreaming of Patina Farm, we imagined the perfect place for our family. We designed a guest house where Charlie could stay when he comes to visit from New York, a room for Nick with plenty of shelves for his collections (sneakers, at the moment!), and a room for Leila with ample space for sleep-overs and dance contests. Our kitchen/dining/family room would be one space where we all could be together even when we were occupied with different activities. And of course, there had to be room for all of our pets!
    This is what gives life meaning...

    Your clients are so fortunate to be able to collaborate with you to create their homes. It is the gift you give each other, don't you agree?

    Thank you for introducing your readers to my blog. I hope they enjoy reading about our journey.


  12. Love this post, Pamela, as my home is also sacred to me, every inch, and it's for me, not for show. I love Brooke's style and seeing how Patina Farms is developing...I love old homes, but I could fall in love with a new home with Brooke & Steve's insight~

  13. Our little Victorian cottage is "home, sweet, home" to me and my husband. Having had very few owners, it has retained its Victorian charm with high ceilings and transoms that still open. A friend once remarked it has the feeling of a dollhouse. The front porch swing is where I "nest" during those luxuriously sweet summer months. You'll find me there of an afternoon with a glass of iced tea and a good book. Evenings, we take our dinner, sit on the porch, and read until dark. It's quintessential small-town living! But the heartbeat of our sweet little house left two weeks ago when the heartbeat of our sweet little cat stopped. She made our house a home…

  14. Sanctuary is important to me. The word my sister uses to describe my home is: Quiet. Having a place to escape the hurly burly of life is vital to me; a place where I can listen to myself think; a place of peace and rest. The wood floors creak, the clocks chime their Westminster voices every quarter hour, and the stereo often chortles its music into every corner of the house, and yet it still feels quiet.

  15. I have long adored Carl Larsson, Karin, to...I've pored over the pictures of their wonderful home...sigh :)

  16. I love that moving into a new bigger was a nightmare for you. It would be for me too. I'm a happy nester and decorating to WOW is not my style either. I imagine that your house would be gorgeous and comfortable if every room has as much loving attention as your blog posts.

  17. If you like Carl Larsson, you may like Trisha Romance. She lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake here in Canada and was inspired by Larsson when she was younger. She has a website.

  18. Pamela..I thought of you when I read this today...

    From www.dailyom.com... entitled

    'Decorating Life'

    "Each day we choose to decorate our life just as we do our homes.

    There are few things more thrilling than having a new house or an empty room to decorate. Our imaginations soar as we consider the many possibilities. In the same way, our lives offer us the opportunity to express ourselves within various contexts, to ask ourselves questions about what we want to see as we move through our days and how we want things to flow. Some people do this instinctively, moving through the various environments they inhabit and shifting the energy with their presence. These people have a knack for decorating life. This can be as simple as the way they dress, the way they speak, or the fact that they always bring a bouquet of wildflowers when they come for a visit.

    As we move through the world, we make a statement, whether we intend to or not. We shift the energy one way when we enter a room dressed elegantly and simply, and another when we show up in bright, cheerful colors and a floppy hat. One is not better than the other. It is simply a question of the mood we wish to create. What we wear is just one choice we can focus on. The way we speak to people, or touch them, shifts the energy more profoundly than almost anything else. The words we speak and the tone in which we say them are the music we choose to play in the world that is our home. Some of us fill the space with passionate arias, others with healing hymns. Again, one is not better than the other. We are all called to contribute.

    Just as we consciously create an environment within our homes, we can consciously choose to decorate life itself with our particular energy. Ideally, in doing so, we express our deeper selves, so that the adornments we add to the world make it more meaningful, more beautiful, and as welcoming as a beloved home."


  19. What a wonderful description of the need for lovely, home-y surroundings. I always hoped I'd have the kind of home that others feel comfortable in when they visit. I think my friends do :-)


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!