There’s No Place like Home

What Makes a House a Home

By Amanda Thompson

From the time we’re children, we envision our dream home. Where will we live? What does our house look like? What color are the walls? Do we have a white picket fence or a yard of endless grass? Regardless of the type of house we grew up with, our home matters as a place to live with family. Surely Harry Potter dreamt of more than a tiny bed under the stairs surrounded by family who treated him with contempt. There are people who probably cringe at the thought of so many inhabitants at the Tanner’s home on Full House, but cannot deny the loving family would make the lack of personal space worth it.

If budget weren’t an object, what would you do to your home? We talked to several local residents about what they feel makes a home, what’s important to them about their home, and what their dreams would be for their home if they had unlimited resources.  

Michelle Carter from Gainesville says, “I want people to feel welcome, and I want to feel cozy and comfortable in my home.” She considers a large sofa or sectional a “must have” so there is plenty of room for entertaining guests. Michelle says that her kitchen, with its family-friendly layout, is her favorite feature in her house: “I really like how the space is divided. I was able to turn half of my kitchen into a sitting area which makes it nice when we have family over for meals. I can cook and family can sit comfortably and talk.”

As far as dreams for her house, Michelle specifically would like to redo the carpeting and add more hardwood. As much as she loves her kitchen, she’d like it to have a “more modern aesthetic versus a traditional one.” She would love to repaint her house with “modern greys” instead of the existing tan paint, but she says she is okay with the paint as it goes with her décor. However, if money were not an object, she would love to hire an interior designer to redecorate.

Sarah Severino from Gainesville says that having family and pets, as well as personal touches, make a house a home. “Things that are specific to you,” she says, “like decorations, and pictures of your family or places and things that are meaningful to you. Even a special paint color.”

As far as her dreams for her house, Sarah mentioned that they have already done some work to the kitchen, installing granite countertops and refinishing the cabinets, but she would love to gut the master bathroom and closet to make them bigger. She also says, “The bathroom is dated and worn as well. I’d actually love to make the shower bigger, but the tub smaller. Also, I would put hardwood throughout the entire first floor and probably in the master bedroom, just to make it stand out.” The kitchen would also have a floor redo: “We have laminate flooring in the kitchen, which is not how we want to leave it forever, but with young kids we don’t want to invest in nice flooring quite yet.”

Deborah Kline Trnkla has lived in both Gainesville and Haymarket, and she currently resides in Haymarket. As a retired military family accustomed to frequent relocation, she says, “home is where your heart is.” Deborah says “we love our home, but would love to add a pool and a hot tub in the backyard. I would redo my bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub as well. Also, we are looking to add a wine cellar in our basement.”

Jennifer Lynn Fischer of Haymarket says she loves her home’s “open floor plan and the land for my kids to run and explore outside,” but what makes it a home is that there’s room for family and friends. Hypothetically, without a budget to worry about, Jennifer would love to have “an outdoor kitchen and a large dining area.”

Andrea Buchanan Payne moved to Haymarket with her family approximately four years ago. Regarding her home, she says “I love our first floor master, our lot, and gazebo,” but with an endless budget, Andrea says, “I’d repaint our first floor, renovate the basement bar, and add hardscape in our backyard.” What truly makes the house a home for Andrea is “our family, dogs, schools, and community of dear friends and loved ones.”

As a local realtor, Paulina Stowell sees “lots of model homes featuring the latest trends, which always makes me want to redo my house!” She would love to finish her basement, get frameless showers for the bathrooms, and have the kitchen cabinets repainted. Paulina says most prospective buys are looking for “an open floor plan, upgraded kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, wood floors, a deck or patio, and a usable backyard.”

All of the preferences and remodeling goals varied with each person I spoke with, but the same themes were echoed again and again: family, friends, and pets are what make a home. Having a space that works for that is the most important thing in a house. New floors, bathroom renovations and such would be nice, but it’s the love inside the home that’s the most important. In short, a house is a home because of what’s inside (family, friends, pictures, etc.), and how those make us feel. To quote James Baldwin, “Perhaps home is not a place, but simply an irrevocable condition.”


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