Just how does a house turn into a home?


I have lived in 30 different houses in my lifetime, all because my dad had a job where he’d be transferred every 6-12 months. I remember almost every house that I have lived in. I remember the furniture we had, I remember my mom making ingenious use of things and within a week, the apartment, the shared quarters, the house (whatever we could afford) would turn into home.

Closer to retirement, thanks to a few wise investments, my parents now own a beautiful apartment that looks more like a modern hotel penthouse suite. And God bless my mom, despite her health issues, she keeps that place shining.

When I got married, I wanted a man who would stay in one place. I was so tired of moving from house to house in the same city (as in Mumbai where rentals are only leased for an 11 month period) or from city to city – packing my bags, saying good-bye to friends, changing schools.

Well, my prayers were answered, eventually. I married the DH and after changing 3 apartments in Singapore and another 3 in the US, we bought a home, rather built it from the ground up.

The year was 2004, I was pregnant with the DD and the DH was insistent that his child would grow up in a house. It was a sound investment (property prices were appreciating) and the city we lived in was where we decided to put down roots. So we booked the house and as luck would have it, we took possession of it a mere 6 weeks after the DD was born.

Buying the house was just the beginning. Whatever savings we had went towards the down payment. With only one income (the DH’s). we started living paycheck to paycheck. All our furniture was secondhand including DD’s crib, a lot of rooms did not have furniture. We didn’t have curtains in the house for the first 6 months.

We had friends who had lived here longer than we had, where both spouses worked and we all bought houses around the same time. These friends were all busy buying new furniture, art and home decor for their dream homes. Every time I visited one of them and came back home, our house looked like we’d won it in some kind of lottery and had no money to spend on furnishing it in the style required. There were days of disappointment and feeling like we’d never be able to make ends meet. Time went on, though and things got better and then worse – the great recession hit, I was laid off from 4 different jobs. We didn’t know if the DH would keep his job. Those times passed too. Today, it’s almost 11 years since we bought this house. This is the longest I’ve spent in one place and sure enough the 4 walls, windows and doors have all turned into home.

It has taken money, no question about it. More than that, though, it has taken time, love, perseverance and doggone hard work to make this happen. Is ours the biggest house or the most expensive? No, we perhaps have the smallest house amongst our friends. In terms of furnishing and home decor, too, a lot of our buys have been picked up at sales and at discount stores. We don’t have any designer touches. A lot of the work has been done by us. The backyard’s the DH’s pride and joy. DD’s room makeovers – both of them have been my handiwork entirely. I was the designer and the laborer, as well. That is, maybe why, this house is precious to us.

A picture’s worth a 1000 words. Here’s our story in pictures

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