A Purpose Filled Home

By Kate Riley March 26, 2012

Most of the time, I’m in charge of my weekend, but not this last one – it was in charge of me.  I had high hopes of spending my Saturday gardening after I spent $60 at a local nursery on new plants and annuals, but the rain kept me from my plans, and I was forced indoors.  In hindsight, it was a good thing, because instead I set the plants aside and concentrated on some much needed interior spring cleaning, and in the midst of that purging and organizing I came to a conclusion about my home.

I think a lot of us seek purpose in our lives, I know I do.  In my later years, I want to look back and hope I made a difference, especially my family’s lives.  It came to me during all that scrubbing and dusting that our homes need purpose just as much as our lives do, and I started to think about all the ways a home can serve a purpose beyond just the shelter of four walls and a roof.  As I cleaned and decluttered, tossing out the unnecessary, polishing and displaying the lovely, I concluded that there are several elements in a purpose filled home.   

A purpose filled home tells a story.  Have you ever walked into a home that’s clearly been decorated by an outsider and it felt a bit… cold?  I have, many times.  Don’t get me wrong, I think interior decorators serve a necessary purpose, the best ones help people pull together a look that suits the resident’s lifestyle and tastes.  However, my favorite homes, the ones of friends and family, the ones I recall from the past and love in the present, aren’t fancy or pretentious, instead they tell a story of those who live within because they’re so personalized, from the pictures on the walls to the books on the bookcase.  I want our home to tell our story too. 

pics and lilacs cg

We all know the famous quote by William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  Every season as I clean and purge, I think of those words and ask myself, is this thing Useful?  Beautiful?  Sentimental?  If not, out it goes.  It’s important to love everything in your home and I believe it’s better to live in a sparsely furnished space than to fill it with meaningless objects.   

A purpose filled home is one which reflects the resident’s style, and without apology.  We’re inundated with images from shelter magazines, Pinterest, design blogs, and other publications, it’s easy to fall prey to the notion that your home isn’t up to snuff.  Nonsense I say.  I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go, and I know which ones aren’t for me.  I respect and admire all great design, but at the end of the day I know what I like and I’ll stick with it through all the trends that come and go.

corner of white kitchen cg

Perhaps you’re renting right now, and you have not control over many aspects of your current home.  Given the chance, you’d rip out the tile in the bathroom or the carpet in the living room.  You can dwell on it, or you can work around it.  Instead, I encourage you to accept the things you wish you could change, set them aside, and instead layer those spaces with your favorite things – things with meaning, with beauty, with purpose. 

A purpose filled home allows for personal expression.  I love this picture of my daughter – here in our hallway she’s built herself a fort, a tent, a reading nook, she does this about once a week, filling it with all her favorite books (and a little juice for sustenance).  Sure it’s inconvenient – I have to crawl under her tent to get to my bedroom, but at this moment in time she’s built herself a sanctuary where she can read, dream, imagine.  Don’t we all need these a place like this too?

little girl tent


A purpose filled home is a sanctuary from the world.  The days are long and filled with obligations that take us away from the place where we live but at the end of the day our home should serve the purpose of being a respite from the frustrations, problems, and stresses of the world.

blue master bathtub cg


Large or small, I’m a big believer in making your home one that works for you, one that suits your lifestyle, that delivers comfort when you walk though your door.  Don’t cook or entertain but love to read?  Then turn your dining room into library.  Don’t have a roommate but you’re in love fashion?  Turn a spare bedroom into a dressing room instead.   Convention should never dictate the rules about how we live – spaces should make us feel the way we want to feel, and provide comfort so we’re equipped to take on the tasks we’re obligated to meet day after day day and week after week. 

Ask me what’s wrong with my home and I can list a dozen things right now, from the baseboards in need of touch up to the fact that six years later after the remodel, we still don’t have a shower door in our master bathroom.  (Compare that to the real problems of the world and it’s laughable, I know.)  But if you ask me what’s right with our home, the first thing I’ll say is it’s filled with purpose.  Or at least, I’m trying to make it a little more so everyday. 

How do you fill your home with purpose?



  1. I.LOVE.THIS.POST! My goal is purposed-filled (aka intentional) living. That’s what I need our home to reflect by having photos, books, word art and comfortable items surround us.

  2. Wonderful, heartfelt post, Kate! This was the first post I opened to read this morning–what a great way to start my day off. Thank you for the positive, uplifting reminder! Loved this. :)

  3. Currently displaced after our home was destroyed on March 2 by the tornadoes that struck Tennessee…we are looking forward to the day when our home will be finished. It’s purpose would have been to see my son finish his senior year of high school and leave for basic training this summer, to see my daughter finish her last year of elementary school and prepare for her dream opportunity of beginning junior high in a local art school. These milestones will still happen, but the memories will not happen in a very pivotal place…our home. We are still mourning the loss of our family home, but looking forward to the opportunities that have been given to us through this tragedy. It’s amazing how quickly you learn not to take life and everything in it for granted, because it can all be gone in a matter of seconds….

    Looking forward to filling our new family home with love and purpose,

  4. Great post Kate. I have always tried to put something old, a familly history, in every room. It might be a picture, a chair, a piece of glass, but it is something from the past. Both my husband and I have lost both parents so be reminded of memories and heritage and sharing our stories with family and friends is a beautiful thing.

  5. So so so true! I too have walked into many homes and felt…wow, it’s so put together I don’t want to touch it! I would really be disappointed if anyone walked into my home and felt that way. The pictures…the flowers…the report card on the fridge…a book on the coffee table…I think all those visual cues make someone feel like…”ahh, I can put my feet up here, people really LIVE here”. I think that is the balance we all are seeking…having beautiful things, that have a meaning….displayed in a way that is pleasing and easy….so that when we are in that space we feel something. Isn’t that the whole point? Great post Kate…and you speak the truth! xoxo

  6. Great thoughts…I love the idea that you should not strive for perfection in your home…instead strive for purpose…after all is said and done, the homes that make an impression aren’t the ones that look good…they are the ones that feel good, like you know a family really lives there. Thanks for some Monday inspiration!

  7. I like to decorate with something old in every room. It’s a rule I have always lived by. Both my husband and I have lost both our parents and having a memory in every room is comforting, and allows for stories to be shared. That memory might be in the form of a picture, piece of glass, a book, a tablecloth, something like that.

  8. I am trying too to make my house along those lines

    Tiffany, I wish you and all those affected by such weather, all the very best in putting together the next phase of your lives. We don’t have tornadoes but we do have some pretty nasty cyclones over here. I really do wish you all the best.

  9. Love this post. I just “reinvented” our living room with a big makeover. It’s not for everyone, but it works for our family of six with two dogs. Our home is filled with stories from the moment you enter. Not many people have a canoe windowseat- made from the canoe their father built in high school. I do. It’s a treasure with a story that we’ve repurposed for our home. I only put things back that were beautiful to our family and were things we loved. Now today I’m ready to tackle the kitchen with a similar mindset!

  10. A home can be beautiful, but it needs work for the way that you live with your family. It’s so nice to be reminded of what is truly important in the home.

  11. This is so true! I want to see my home as a gift and as a resource–I don’t want to be paralyzed by thinking that I can’t have people over because I don’t have the cutest rug in the living room or that I can’t enjoy my home because I don’t have this or that. I’ve even been writing a blog series about contentment, purging, etc on my blog. Since we are moving soon, I wanted to take some time to really look at what I have in my home and clear out all the extra stuff I don’t need or want. Here’s the link to the lastest installement (it’s short and sweet):http://www.homeforhireblog.com/2012/03/sentimental.html

    Thanks for the lovely words! This post was great :)

  12. I love a good moment to step back and think about why we’re doing whatever it is that we do. My hubs and I are paying off student debt and are determined to make-do with our tiny (and sometimes gross) apartment. For us, it’s been about making the function about what we like (cats, cooking, home-brewing, sewing, cycling) and making it look good after that. At this point, every room feels comfortable and less like the meth-house we moved into! It wouldn’t work for everyone, but it gives us the comfort we need to stick it out with cheap rent.

  13. as jean above me mentioned, my home really has to “work” for us. which means, many a therapeutic play toy: trampolines, rocking chairs, exercise balls, scooters, swings, etc. because helping my oldest son’s autism is the main purpose of our life, and as an extension, our home.

    as our home as changed over the years, every decision has been made to support him. instead of store-bought, it’s handmade. instead of professionally decorated and painted, it’s DIYed.

    my next goal is to take old photographs from both side of our family into an eclectic gallery wall, so my young sons see their roots…

    lovely post kate. a great way to anchor the 2 weeks off we have for spring break.

  14. Such a great post, Kate! My first read this morning and one I definitely needed to hear! Thanks for the heartfelt reminder!

  15. Terrific post! I couldn’t agree more. I’d love a beautiful, organized home where everything is just so, but I also want a home where my family feels comfortable to sit with their feet up or build a fort or whatever. Love the pic of your daughter’s nook! Thanks for sharing.

  16. AMEN! I love the picture of your daughter in her reading nook. My daughters do the same thing with a futon in our loft. They pull it from the wall and put a blanket over it and open the window that peeks into their fort if it’s nice outside. Thanks for the beautifully expressed, heartfelt post.

  17. Couldn’t help think of my “Purpose Filled” office desk with two 20 oz. cans of pineapple gracing the corner – I use them everyday doing chair yoga on the computer & their my weights! Not beautiful, but convenient. Love your blog!

  18. Love this post Kate. I’m a constant unclutterer, donating or just getting rid of bits and bobs all the time. (I sometimes wonder where it all comes from if I’m always clearing it out!) But maybe I need to start looking at those things a bit differently. For example, there is a pile of cables and electrical contraptions in my husband’s office that I think are just junk. But they all serve a purpose to him and make his office HIS. A bit more respect and acceptance of his things is definitely in order. Thanks!

  19. What a beautiful well written post. I always wondered what was so off when I went to my brothers place; his wife did a beautiful job putting their home together with pillows and art and drapes but it always felt so cold and now I realize it’s because it doesn’t have their personality. She put together what would look good and come across as a show home but it has no life. Despite my home needing a million things I will always strive to make my home a warm inviting home that reflects us.

  20. That’s a wonderful picture of your daughter! That’s what a home is really about. I’ve been making sure to try and focus more on making our house a place where our kids are just as comfortable as we are and realizing it doesn’t need to “show” well, it needs to “live” well. I’m also in the middle of purging and trying to get rid of all the stuff that’s everywhere. It’s no small task but a little bit at a time and we’ll eventually get there.

  21. Great post! I could not agree more. I definitely think there is a happy medium that I am looking to achieve.

    I’m loving two of your paint colors pictured here. I am hoping I can find them on here – if not I’ll be back : )

  22. We live in about 1600 sq. feet (maybe less) and one bathroom. Our living room is pretty much the only place to hang out. It functions as a play room, office, hang out and T.V. space. We have no choice, but to make our house work for us and fill it with purpose. I too, can name a bajillion things wrong and would love another bathroom (or two) and a playroom. I just have to look around and remind myself that we are not without, we have more than enough. Plus, I get to stay home with my kids and that is worth more than an extra bathroom and a playroom.

    Your house is gorgeous! FYI your house is the house in magazines and on Pinterest ;)

  23. It’s such a great pleasure to grab my coffee first thing in the morning and read your blog! Your insight and style are inspiring. Today’s post is so true. As a stay at home mom and homemaker I strive to make our home a place of comfort and beauty. I too can list off the many things I would change about our home, but one thing I would never change is the family and friends that fill it!

  24. Love your daughter’s personal comfy and pretty corner. The decorating gene must run in your family! I also enjoyed reading your post. My house does not look like houses in the magazine, but it has served my family well for 20 years and we love living here :)

  25. Thanks for the wonderful post! It is easy to get so caught up in design and lose track of its purpose. I agree that there needs to be stories behind the room…or each piece…
    I could tell you the stories behind most of the items in every room of the house. That is what makes it fun…and home.
    And above all it is the family that makes it a home…

  26. I love this post… it is such a great reminder and so encouraging. My husband and I want to use our home for ministry purposes as well as have it function at it’s best. Which means looking for unconventional ways of using space and keeping things simple.

  27. A good friend once told me “Your house should rise up to meet you at the end of the day” I pondered that for a while and realized that our homes should wrap us up and be the place where we re-energize so that we are better…we do more, we serve more, we have more to give!

    I give my home purpose by making an effort to integrate meaningful pieces in my home. We have many artists in the family and as friends…this means a lot of art in our house but not always art that fits with a color scheme or style. I make an effort to integrate these pieces regardless because they are so much more important they are what give our home purpose!

  28. LOVE this post in every way possible! :-) It is so funny because I was actually just talking about this with my mom over the weekend…how I love my home and what I want it to feel like but how much I struggle with feeling like it isn’t always “in”, you know? Do I have to go and add tangerine colors to it now that I’m seeing that everywhere? LOL! What you wrote here perfectly captures my desire for my own home and I so appreciate you sharing from your heart with us!

  29. Thanks Kate for this post! We have moved alot because of the military. For a time I was stuck in the philosophy that my home was not permanent even when we finally bought our first home. I don’t think I believed it belonged to us and that I could make changes. I hate to admit that now that I am in my 50’s I finally consider the house/ home we are in now as really ours even if my husband is still in the service. Keeping everything white was the goal. This is the 1st home where there is color in every room. My husband complimented me this weekend. In fact he said that I have always made our home look nice and feel comfortable. I really could not ask for more. Often I think that I never imagined what I have now and it is really more than enough. The Pinterest images are amazing and inspiring and sometimes helpful when looking for color inspiration or what looks good together. I see it as a springboard to use what you have.

    P,S. I love your blog!

  30. Yes! This post truly resonates with me. We live in a small, but what I think is lovely!, home and I am suffering from a severe case of “keeping up with the jonses.” I don’t *want* a bigger house. I am not trendy or super modern. What we have works and is functional (i.e., our hallway is a playroom because it’s in a central location and my dining room is a part-time office because trudging upstairs to write isn’t feasilbe right now) and above all, we are happy. Our house is purposeful and we are so very fortunate. I love to make it ours, regardless of the size of it.

    Thanks for the reminder, Kate ;)

  31. One thing I do is try to make everyday things look pretty, instead of hiding them and putting out “decorative” items. So I put dog treats and bath soap and laundry powder into clear glass jars. I also try not to decorate a room, so much as warm a room. My favorite things to warm a room with are books, plants/flowers, candles, and family photos.

    Wonderful post!

  32. Fabulous piece!! Thanks for the uplifting and positive things! I’m that renter that you talked about in the middle and I’m trying to do just that – enjoy the things that I can decorate and change, and just dream about the other things I’d love to do in the future. There is alway time for that someday!

    Thanks for this and Happy Monday!

  33. I completely agree about interior decorators and homes that have been decorated by their owners. That personal touch-you can almost feel it. Great blog!

  34. What an awesome post, we have been trying to teach our married children that it is not things that make a home but the memories that you create in it. We have moved many times in our lifes and I love it when people would come into our home and sit and say how comfortable and peaceful they felt. We didn’t have alot but what we had was enough. We are now downsizing once more as another child gets married and as with past children they take things from our home to help them build on making new memories in theirs. So we are now going to have two empty bedrooms and an empty family room, but it is just fine. As we get older we realise that we just don’t need all this stuff. Thank you for your post it is what I think alot of us needed today.

  35. I have to add myself to the list of those you’ve touched with this post. That photo of your daughter brought back such fun memories of building forts with sheets + blankets tucked into drawers, under lamps, and pinned behind chairs.

    I think I’ll go home tonight and build another fort.

  36. This is a great reminder to not give too much of my time to my house, rather than the people in it. It’s easy to be consumed by the “flaws” and changes I want to make, and that becomes my focus. Of course my children pick up on my critical view, (& husband), & I don’t want them to think that our house is what is so important in life. I need to show them that I’m grateful & thankful to have a home, it is a blessing, & that more importantly, no matter where we live, it is the people in life that truly matter.

  37. Thank you so much for this post. I feel inadequate trying to decorate my home because it doesn’t come very naturally to me. Plus, I like a variety of different styles and I let my lack of confidence make my decisions instead of just decorating with what I like. This post has made me realize that my house is not my home unless I can truly be myself in it. Thanks again!

  38. Thanks for putting your thoughts into words for us…I am currently going through the process of living intentionally, with purpose. As my kids have entered high school and middle school, our home now has different needs and I am ready for the change in our home to reflect this new phase of all our lives.

  39. What a great post. It really did help me have a bit more of a light-hearted attitude towards the current state our kitchen remodel is in and to refocus on what is REALLY important. And your daughter’s fort is super cute!!

  40. So true Kate! I love a home that is lived in and feels collected, not like “Pottery Barn – page 17”. Not that I dont like Pottery Barn items, I have several, but they are mixed in with other personal items with meaning and significance and I think that shows. The best compliment I ever recieve from friends and visitors is when they say my home is so “comfortable”. I strive to create a space that says…”come in, relax, put your feet up on the coffee table and enjoy our home”.
    Have a great day ~ Laura

  41. What an awesome post Kate. Thanks for reminding me that our home should have purpose too, not just our own lives. I think my home does have purpose right now. We live in a home that isn’t perfect by any means, but we are comfortable in it. I want people to walk into our home and feel that they can put their feet up on the ottoman and relax with us and have a good time. I really enjoyed this post Kate. Very well put together….very thoughtful. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  42. Such an awesome post! The greatest purpose of a home is memories and that’s what I aim to fill the atmosphere with…I don’t design the atmosphere to create memories, I let the memories design the atmosphere!!

  43. I’m an avid follower but rarely comment. Loved this post! I just had to tell ya. I love purpose in a home too – even makes a home more welcoming I think. Thanks;)

  44. Love this post, it reminds me of a house i visited when i was a young student – 3 doors up from where we lived was a woman in her 40s (how old that seemed when i was 19!) who had never married, and her grown-up son had moved out. As soon as she had the house to herself, instead of sticking with the way it had been built, with 2 reception rooms and a kitchen downstairs, two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and an attic, she made it completely open-plan, taking down walls and ceilings and anything in her way. She had a a single mezzanine sleeping area with a screened-off bathroom, but the rest was open plan all the way to the roof rafters, and filled with draping indian silks and arabian rugs. She probably had about 600 sq ft of useable floor space, but it felt like a cathedral. She certainly didn’t believe in being constrained by her home’s walls!

  45. So much food for thought. I’ve always loved surrounding myself with the things that make me feel happy in my home. Through learning interior design I now have a more cohesive plan for where to put those things without creating so much clutter. I love your comment about embracing those things that you can not change in your home. For me it’s the pinky-beige we have everywhere. Since we’re hoping to sell in the near future we’re not going to put a ton of money into renovating. The other day I wrote in my notebook “Embrace the pinky-beige!”.

  46. I especially loved your point about your home reflecting your style “without apologies”. It is so easy to get caught up appeasing the trend of the minute or styling the nonsensical heck of of everything to replicate a magazine page.

    • Thanks everyone for such sweet comments, I really appreciate your feedback and all the ways you add meaning to your homes!

  47. Yes!!! I love this post! :) My style is not what you’d call conventional as far as the blog world is concerned, but it’s my style and I love it. My home is decorated in western and rustic items from an actual saddle on a saddle stand in our living room to buckles my hubs has won on the walls. Most people don’t get it… but that’s ok. WE do. :)

  48. It took me a long time to realize what you just wrote about so you are way ahead of the game in my book. That whole “older and wiser” thing is really, really true. I love my home but it’s taken me decades – and lots of mistakes – to get here. I am a minimalist, shun trends, and am constantly purging because I only want things in my home that I love. When I am here the memories of vacations and meals and visitors and family and fun times come flooding through every nook and cranny – the hand knotted oriental rugs my husband and I bought over a period of 3 years when he was a grad student, the huge copper pot my mom handed down to me just last year that used to hold my parents fireplace wood supply, small bottles of sand from all of our tropical vacations with our boys, photos of course, a large low bowl a friend carved from wood found on his farm in Costa Rica, the zebra skin rug my brother in law brought back from Africa with a great story to boot (killed by natives for food but as an animal lover and vegetarian it took me 6 or 7 years to even be able to display it but he’s a stunner), artwork and things my kids made, etc. . . My home makes me happy!

  49. My adult son currently lives with us until he goes off to grad school in the fall. He makes french press coffee each morning. My husband and I are not coffee drinkers. I could get upset about the french coffee press mess left for me to clean up each morning as he heads off to work but instead I embrace it. I love the smell of coffee-just not the taste. He is part of our family and so his coffee supplies are now part of the kitchen decor and I will miss it when he leaves. I have two nieces aged 2 and 4. They love to see pictures of themselves displayed in my home. They now think every picture displayed in my home should be of them and when one isn’t they point to the picture and ask who is that and where am I? My home is all about family and less about interior design. I just make sure it functions for the way we live-and change that as our family needs change over time. I think people often forget to change their home as their needs change. So if you find yourself unhappy with your home it may be time to change things to function for the way you are living today.

  50. This was a thought-provoking post! I love the idea of using the space in the home for what might be considered non-traditional uses, as you suggest with the library in the dining room, etc. We have an upstairs dormer area that used to be an office area for me, but now my office has moved and this space needs a little rejuvenation and love! I think it wants to be a small library, and it may become that yet.

  51. Our home tells the story of us, and I want everyone who lives and enters our home to feel they are part of the story of our lives that we write every day. Everything in our home has a story:
    – my grandparents’ dining table that I cut the legs and used as a coffee table in our last house and then had glued back on so we could use it (again) as a dining table
    – the sofa that my sister HAD to have but the upholstery was delicate and it didn’t last at her house so I had it reupholstered and now it’s our sofa
    – the campaign-style bedroom set my husband bought himself (as a bachelor) 40 years ago and now we lie in every night…to which we’ve added a side table a friend was going to toss
    – the small red buffet from the junk store which I painted and now houses our collection of beach ephemera
    – the Craig’s List rattan sofa that I put on our balcony and enables us to take a nap…overlooking the ocean
    – the armoire that housed our television at our ‘up north’ home and now that we’ve downsized and have a much smaller closet, holds my shoes, purses, and sweaters
    – the All Clad pots and pans given to us as a gift from friends when we married and whom I think of…every time I cook
    – the oversized storage ottoman from an estate sale which I recovered and now (because we’ve downsized) holds my husband’s golf balls, gloves, tools, etc.

    While these are only a few of our stories, you get the drift. So, come to our house. Put your feet up. Spill your wine. Drop that meatball. There. Now you have woven yourself into our story. And we love you.

  52. This is an awesome article! Yes, I think you should have this published in a magazine…it is SO spot on! Thank you for sharing! My husband and I recently had to make the decision to ‘stay or move’ and we have pretty much decided to stay, so this article really hits home on how we want our space to feel going forward.

  53. This was such a beautiful post and I completely agree with making your home feel like “you”. I recently did a post about decorating a tiny home (my condo is 400 sq ft) and I talked about how you may feel that you are challenged with how to decorate- but I told my readers you need to put up art and objects that describe who you are and that you find beautiful. Then when people come over to your home, they dont see how small it is, or if you have laminate countertops or other silly things- they see a beautiful room that reflects YOU!

  54. I love what you said about reflecting your style without apologies. I’m such a crazy cat-lady (fortunately, my husband’s on the same page); we have a giant castle-shaped scratching post that we made for our fur tribe in our living room. I’m embracing our geeky quirkiness, and I’m realizing that our home doesn’t have to be right out of a design magazine. It does need to be filled with the things we love, and I’m working on that. So instead of funky abstract art, we’re hanging up a watercolor painting of the kitty we just lost. Instead of hanging up random letters and punctuation, we’ve hung up a painting my husband’s sister did for us, of a wolf, and her husband’s gorgeous photograph of the White Mountains in NH. I’m leaving the goofy print of a fat-cat and a pink cosmopolitan in my bathroom, and embracing my artsy side and stencling the brown microsuede curtains in our bedroom that black out light so fantastically. Sleeping in is one of the luxuries that we allow ourselves when we can, and when the cats let us. We could get lighter window treatments, but I love that after getting home at midnight or 1 AM (I’m an ICU nurse, working the evening shift), I know I can sleep in the morning and not be woken up by sunlight in my eyes.

    I guess it’s all about what works for *you*. :)

  55. Terrific post, Kate! (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I agree with Every. Single. Word!)

    We moved into this rental townhome in January of this year – after discarding the majority of the furniture and household goods we had been living with. I was and am on a teeny tiny budget, but that’s making getting this rental turned into a home even more fun. There’s not a piece of furniture that I don’t have plans for, or a single surface that I don’t plan to have our way with!

    This is OUR home. No-one lives here but us. So I took the time before the move to figure out how we actually did live. Our living/dining area is a library space with a comfy sofa and two chairs. The dining area is really nothing more than a table and chairs – in the smallest area of an L-shaped room. That’s because we really won’t be having large family dinners, but we WILL curl up with good books, coffee and music.

    The front closet got repurposed into a closet mudroom, the basement room the previous tenants had as a play space is our computer/entertainment area and where I work on all of the small projects.

    One of the three bedrooms will be a design studio for my costuming endeavors. Another will be a guest room/upstairs reading room. The third is our bedroom.

    The teeny-tiny backyard will be a green room. Not so much a garden as a place hopefully filled with foliage that creates an outdoor oasis. No veggies here! Just green leaves, a bench and two chairs…

    Decorating will happen as it happens. Living happens now. These rooms frame our life together and I’m really looking forward to making them thoroughly ours. It means a fair amount of elbow grease and redoing furniture and finishes, but it’s a goal worth working for. Every time I look at an area I’ve “finished” a part of me swells and feels like I’ve finally “come home”.

  56. This was a fantastic post Kate. As much as I love your DIY creations, you are such a wonderful writer and with each of your posts, you just pull me in to keep reading! Your blog was one of the first home decor sites that I ever read and still do to this day – I enjoy coming back each and every time. xo Jenna

  57. I agree with the person above – that you’re ahead of the curve if you’ve realized the purpose of your home at this early point of your life.

    As for our own home – we have an older home, a foursquare with a dining room that functioned better as a living room. So that’s what we made it. And while we could have put dining furniture in the former living room we’ve very deliberately left it mostly empty. It’s our “multi-purpose” room. It’s where Christmas trees go, or a folding table for dinners when we have guests. It’s a craft space, a project space, a play space. And whenever we’re not using it for any of those purposes it’s main function is to give us a sense of spaciousness in a house that is not. And I value it very much.

  58. Beautiful. Something I have always believed in but have never been able to “put down in words”, but you just put is across so well! Loved it.

  59. I will show this to my cousin we were just talking about this yesterday!

  60. Great post. How true. My home may not be “picture perfect” but more than one person has mentioned how warm and homey it is. I love that I am surrounded by some of my late grandmother’s furniture, a pastel drawing of my late aunt and a stained glass lamp she made, as well as paintings and embroidery made by my mother, artwork created by friends, the blankets I crochet, the knick-nack gifts from family and friends collected over the years, my collections: teapots, dolls, Michael Sowa prints, etc… This is what makes a home. I hate when you visit someone’s home, and it has been gorgeously decorated by a professional but, there is no warmth – and you cannot see anything of the home owner or tenant in the decor. A home should be a reflection of those who live in it, it shoud tell you a little bit about that person.
    I totally love your blog – very thoughtful and inspiring.

  61. What a lovely post! I totally agree. To infuse our homes with love and gentleness-having a purpose. I myself have had a love/hate relationship with my home–but after years of picking on it, I think the two of us have made peace. We love each other now–and the more love I show it, the more it gives me & my family in return. That’s a grand purpose and I’m so grateful for it. xo-Heather

  62. Kate, I read your blog almost daily- thank you for taking the time to write this. It is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. With much gratitude, Joy

  63. I loved this post! As much as I am inspired by your how to’s and your ah!mazing projects, this post might be my favorite!
    My house is not perfect, but I love it and it is a reflection of who I am, what I have done and where I want to go.
    Thank you for inspiring me in many different ways.

  64. Hi-
    Well said!
    I turn to blogs for inspiration, but at the end of the day I want our home to be ours. What’s the saying?… You’re home should rise up to greet you? I’m a firm believer. It should speak to you and really represent your family.
    With that being said…Your bathroom color really speaks to me. Beautiful. May I ask what color is it?

  65. I’m not one to comment but just had to add, that the only thing better than this post are the comments. Wish I had more to add, but it’s been so well said by others.

  66. Kate, thank you for adding beauty to my days. I would like to agree with Rugger… and second the request by Ginette for the paint color of your bathroom. Happy Tuesday!

  67. I was going to leave my comment yesterday but my internet connection didn’t cooperate. :) I stumbled upon your blog while I was pregnant. Your blog has been a daily( then, hourly even!) read. I had just gotten married, moved thousands of miles away, left my doctor job, was home 24/7 with a growing tummy. Your blog was my salvation from going insane. :) My baby is now a year old and I am still trying to figure out this stay at home mom thing. We moved in a new house a few months back and we are taking the time out to fill it. Budget is a factor but a bigger factor is the need for this house to feel like us and fill it with things that are meaningful to us. I want this to be a happy home for me, my hubby and our little one. I know it will take a while but in the end it will be all worth it. Your house/ blog has been an inspiration. It doesn’t scream “hey, look at me”…it just sort of whispers and draws you in. I am not sure if it’s a proper adjective but I would describe your house as “quietly beautiful”. The house looks pretty but lived in and comfy. I want that feeling for my house too. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  68. Loved this blog today! I always love your blog, but this one especially hit home today. I have been thinking about what makes a house feel more like a home and your ideas nalied it.

  69. Your post is so true. We have a small box room that we used initially as the babys room. Now both our babies have moved on to “big rooms” the box room was sitting there empty. Only 3 weeks ago I decided to change it into a storage room because I am always complaining that this house does not have any storage space. We dont need the small extra bedroom so Storage Room it is now. And I am so much happier now we have somewhere for the suitcases, winter clothes, etc etc etc.
    I love your blog. Keep up the good work.

  70. Great post Kate, it was just the kick in the pants I needed to stop trying to emulate what everyone elses homes looked like and make my home my own.

  71. Thank you, Kate. I needed this today, perfect timing. I am making my own curtains and after ordering 39 yards of fabric, I am a little overwhelmed. But I feel strongly that they will add a layer of texture, fun, and warmth to our home. I’m done with one window- 3 more to go. :) Your blog continues to inspire me and since starting to read it I have done a few projects and really contemplated the items we have in our home and the feelings I want to evoke in all of us, from my husband to our kids. Thank you again for all you do.

  72. Had to share this with my 21-year-old daughter who was a big fan of tents..with animals, books, and blankets too…Kate, your blog is inspiring, and comforting, thank you

  73. Well said! A good reminder that our homes do not need to look like the pages of a magazine. The photo of your daughter is adorable, what a perfect moment in time to capture.

  74. When I was a young woman, I used to buy antique furniture from this place called Junktiques in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The fellow who owned the place would take junky-looking antiique furniture with loads of potential and fix it up. Years later, I’ve thought about getting rid of some of it just because I’ve been packing it around with me for my entire adult life. Your post made me realize that I shouldn’t do that. Every time I look at these pieces (which still look good) it reminds me of all the afternoons I spent treasure hunting through that store, talking to the restoration expert about what he saw in certain things and how he lovingly repaired (and recycled) each one.

    Since then, I’ve developed an eclectic style, incorporating these pieces into my home. I realize they do tell the story of all those afternoons. The minimalists in the crowd probably wouldn’t like my stuff, but it does tell my story.

  75. Love the pic of CocoNut over the bathtub…and the lovely shades of purple and burgundy in the first photo. I have a bunch, and I mean a bunch of stuff that I have held onto over the years that are not “purpose-filled” so I am going to take your advice and purge. I may have to have my very organized friend Megan come over to help because I always get a little frantic and give up.

  76. The photo of your daughter brought back great memories for me. I used to make a fort using my grandparents’ dining room table and a king sized sheet. My best friend and I would play under there for hours. It was our own little place in the world. And when we came out, my grandma would make us milkshakes. :-)

  77. This is a really inspiration post, and I do believe in “make a house a home” that we love to live in and also resemble ourselves. Working toward my goal. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post.

  78. Love the post we built our home 6 yrs ago and thought it needed to look like Pottery Barn. I realize that after noticing the nicks and chipped walls, I was wasting time on perfecting and missing out on my kids being young. So what if people gasp at the Legos and American Girl clothes in every nook, I get to sit back and watch memories take place. I was inspired by a friend coming to our home for athe first time and remarking on my children’s portriaits hung everywhere besides artwork. Each one has their story so fresh in my mind of when and where they took place. I am surrounded by everything I love and need…and it is home

  79. I want to tell you how inspiring your posts are. This one and the one about appreciating other people’s style (instead of being envious..) are so uplifting. I plan to re-read them both several times. And your daughter’s tent fort is so similar to what I used to do when I was a kid.

  80. Dear Kate, your blog was the first blog I ever read and I’m addicted to it. Love your posts and got emotinal with this particular one. I have a 9-year-girl who LOVES forts and I’m alway looking for perfection so our apartment or her room don’t look “messy”. Just today she was trying to build one and I was like: Oh no! Seeing your daughter so happy in her fort made me realize, Is there something more important than seeing our family happy? Who cares if the place doesn’t look great all the time, it’s not a catalog or magazine, it’s real life!
    Thank you so much!
    Best, Marcela

  81. Thank you for this lovely bit of wisdom. I’m in that state of feeling like nothing in my home is how I would want it and I am loving all the tips you offer. I’m also nesting so that adds another layer of wanting things to be cozy and lovely and done before baby boy #2 arrives in late July. Q. What color is the shade in the bathroom photo? I’m looking for a beautiful blue similar to this. Thanks!

  82. I’m getting caught up on your blog, and I just wanted to say that this post really spoke to me. Thanks, Kate.

  83. Absolutely lovely post. Rarely do I comment on the many blogs that I read, but this post was beautifully written, well thought out, and above all, useful and meaningful.

    Excellent article. I’ll be keeping this one bookmarked for future reading.

    Thanks for doing what you’re doing.

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