The objects that make my house a home

November 10 | Guest post by Ruth Dawkins

I'm about to move with my husband and toddler son from a much loved house that we own, in a city we know well, to rented accommodation in a town we've visited once.

We are nervous, excited, and deeply nostalgic. I keep trying to pack things into boxes and getting distracted by the fun things that I find shoved in drawers or tucked away in the back of cupboards. I can often be found sitting on the floor, surrounded by photo albums and smiling at some of the great moments we've had in this house.

These are the items that make our house a home — and will make our next house a home.

We love our rugs. We've got two beautiful wooden floors in the house, which we had sanded and varnished when we moved in…and then promptly covered up with our big, patterned area rugs. When I first met my very-Virgo husband, he had a special comb for keeping the fringes of his rugs nice and neat. Now he's just grateful to get to the end of the day without having milk or juice tipped over any of them.

The cat. I may lose readers over this, but I'm not a cat person. I'm not just ambivalent; I actively dislike most cats I meet. Partly because I'm allergic to them, but mainly just because I think they're horrible — and they don't like me, either. But this little metal guy is the exception to my cat-hating rule; he sits in our kitchen and keeps an eye on things. He has attitude. I like him a lot.

The table. I'm not being boasty (well, I am a little bit), but we have the best dining room table ever, which we found in a wee second hand shop in Edinburgh. It's ridiculously big and heavy and, as you can see from the photo, has had the crap beaten out of it. It was origianally used as a cook's table in an old school, which is why there are so many knife marks and chunks missing. It's coming with us, even if I end up sleeping under it on a pavement somewhere.

The lamp. This was a present from me to my husband. It's an old Cadillac headlamp, which has been fixed on top of a wooden tripod. For some reason it also has a built-in compass. For months, when we walked past the lamp in a nearby shop window, my husband used to say how much he'd like it. Then one day it disappeared and he was very sad…until he discovered that I'd gone in without him one day, haggled down the price, and hidden it for his birthday. It's kinda kooky.

The candlesticks. These were a wedding present from a friend in Zimbabwe. I haven't been able to find candles dinky enough to fit in them recently, so we haven't lit them for months, but I still like having them around.

Dominoes. These live in an old wooden cigar box. I am totally an old lady before my time; I love playing dominoes, especially by candlelight, with a glass of wine and some music on. I get ridiculously competitive, and take enormous delight in sending my husband 'down to the boneyard'.

Bed. Comfiest bed ever.

Paintings. Our house is chock-a-block with art, none of it valuable, but all of it well loved. We are lucky enough to have some ridiculously talented family and friends, and we've also picked up some beautiful pieces at the Edinburgh College of Art degree shows. A large proportion of our paintings, including this wooden lizard, are pieces of Gullah Art, from the Red Piano Gallery in South Carolina. They are all non-negotiable; they're coming with us.

Harmonicas. Because no home is complete without some sweet music making machines. Both my husband and son are fans of playing the mouthie. Me, I just like to take photos of them.

Toy Cars. Only a fool would try and part my toddler from his red Chevy, his purple Carmen Ghia, his yellow Beetle, or any of the other several hundred cars and trucks in his possession. He knows where every single one of them originally came from. And are they coming with us to London? Hell yes.

Blue vase. This was a present for my husband from some of his very best friends, when he moved house previously. Having fresh cut flowers in a house always helps it feel like home, never more than when they're placed in a beautiful vase.

Notebooks. This is a family of writers. We are note-takers, journal-makers, scrapbookers and photographers. We are surrounded by paper. We may have to do some filing, but we gave away our shredder last week, so all the papery stuff is here to stay.

Centrepiece. The clock, the painting, and the marble fireplace in this shot are all wonderful… but the real star of the show is the Monster. He is very old, and is part of a great story, which I probably can't tell without getting my husband into trouble. But wherever we go he will be coming too. He's our protector. If he's coming with us, I know we'll be just fine.

I feel a little better knowing that wherever these objects go, I'll be at home.

  1. I really like this. I have recently moved, and the first thing I always do is put up my 'fridge pictures' these pictures get their own little box, and they are the last thing packed and the first thing out. they make my new house feel like it's actually mine.
    I am still collecting all the wonderful things that make a house a home, and I really liked the interesting perspective that you offered in this article.

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    • Thanks so much for reading, and for leaving such a kind comment. I love the idea of your 'fridge pictures' – so brilliant! The only problem we have is that our houses need to keep expanding to accommodate all our stuff.

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  2. I really like this too! I would love to see some sort of regular featured column about special objects in the home. The stories are often fascinating….

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    • Thank you! I agree – I'd be so interested in seeing people's bits and pieces and hearing the stories behind them.

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  3. Is the monster a pencil holder? I have a monster pencil holder that looks just like that (only purple).

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    • Ooh, I'm not sure if he's supposed to be. He certainly has an open mouth that you could stick a pencil in. I'll try it and let you know if it looks right!

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  4. All your objects are beautiful, not just for themselves, but for the stories attached to them. Thank you for sharing, it was a wonderful, intimate look inside your life.

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  5. Mine:
    -The big oak dining table which has been my family's dining table for years. My mama is taking it back now, which is a bit sad for me.
    – The "school chest", a low chest-of-drawers we used to use for our homeschooling supplies, which I now keep my clothes in
    – an old-school red trunk that used to be my Mum's
    – a blue-and-orange quilt my sister made for me
    – my butterfly alphabet poster (http://www.butterflyalphabet.com/posters/index.php?action=view&id=2), which has been in every house I've lived in

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    • Ahh, brilliant, thanks for sharing your list of special objects too! I actually wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, and we've now moved. Our beautiful table wouldn't fit in our new place and has had to go into storage, so I share your table sadness right now!

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  6. Hmmm… I do not have nearly enough talismans for home-iness, I see now! Lol. A lot of my stuff is back home (which is a 27 hour drive from our current house) with my parents, but we're planning to remedy that this winter. Soon I will finally have all of my art and the rest of my boooooooks! We are slowly acquiring favorite pieces of furniture. So far the favorites are the antiques: a mahogany 1930s highboy, a rock maple chest of extra-deep drawers, a dark 1930s secretary with glass-doored cabinet, and a little mahogany bar/cocktail cabinet. Plus there's always my IKEA coffee table, our favorite couch ever (which is actually pretty new) and our fireplace screen and andirons. Oh, and there's the boyfriend's cheesy fuzzy "wolf blanket," which is one of those enormous, hippy/biker blankets with a giant realistic-looking wolf head on it. It's the equivalent of tee shirts with running horses or howling wolves and a full moon on them.

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    • It's all about quality, not quantity! Sounds like you have some great things with some great stories already! Love the sound of the wolf blanket – every home should have one ;)

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  7. This post got me thinking about the special things in my home. My husband and I lived in two houses together before buying the one we currently live in. After every move all we want to do is stay home and "Play" with our new house. But what makes it homey to me?

    *Plants in the ground. New veggies and transplants from the old house. When we finally bought a house I was able to take all my potted purgatory plants and give them a home. That felt good.

    *Old Ass Kitchen Aid mixer. It was my mom's when we were little and I have had it since the day I struck out on my own. We cook and bake a lot at home and my old Hobart keeps me connected to the coziness.

    *The fishtank. Part pet, part furniture, part living sculpture. We have other pets but the constant gurgle of the tank is really soothing. When we first started living alone (no roommates!) my Husband and I secretly admitted to each other that we wanted a fish tank. It started out as a 10 gal, then to the lovely 35 gal tall tank, and for his first birthday in the new house I went buck wild and bought him a 76 gal bow front tank with it's own stand. It's just wonderful and saved us many times when the baby was wee. I often think "Why can't I get a hutch in my house", or "why can't I get the piano into the living room". oh yeah, the fishtank.

    Oh shoot the list is growing and growing in my head. Great post!

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    • Oooh, I'd love to come around to your house – great cooking, a nice garden and wee fishies swimming around! Brilliant. Thanks for reading and posting xx

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