Warming A Home With Creativity

Essay by Beth Brown Ables & Photo by Paige French

Cold prods us inward with insistent, frost-brittle fingers. We crave warmth, rich foods, earthy scents and long for the familiar—even if it is only but a fabrication or sweet sentiment. Wool, cinnamon, crackling fires, those same songs. Evergreen.

Winter is not a time for newness, it is the season of yearning, of look-back, of nestling. 

This happens, of course, in the rightest of places: home. 

Not in a house perfectly staged, set and photo ready but in a home: cluttered with shoved-aside papers, powdered with flour, scented with stews and roasts and vanilla. We want a woolen throw, a roaring fire, a warm thick mug all like inviting hands drawing us inside. Rough-hewn walls and frost on the windowpane. 

Unfortunately, we all cannot live in a cabin in the winter. We may not even have a fireplace, let alone know how to cook a stew. Wool itches. 

Wintertime sees us bringing outdoors in. Most homes fill with more greenery and we light candles. Rooms scented with wick smoke and spruce conjure memories of comfort and rest.  With that, we have something to rest against and it is complete familiarity—a powerful welcome.This season offers opportunity to go within, as life shutters and darkens outside, we seek ways to convince each other that there is still life here. As days dim and shorten our homes brighten and we long to invite. Come in, it’s warm inside. Come in!

A home, when you really think it through, is a deeply personal thing. Come in, we tell our family and friends, here is where I am the most me. Here’s where I sleep and wake and cook and make a mess. Here is where worry rises to the surface, here is my safest spot, and here is where I lay it all down. Here are the colors I surround myself with, the books and CDs and DVDs I keep close, the art I enjoy, the photos I framed to remind me of what was and still is. 

This is home. This is me. 

And as with anything so personal, so vulnerable there comes a pressure to perfect. Clean up that clutter! Arrange everything just so. Turn book jackets around so that the end papers blend and merge. Place a guest towel by the bathroom sink. Iron napkins. This is how to hang a picture and drape a curtain and polish silver. Note: buy silver to polish. 

That’s not a home, that’s instruction. What draws someone into a space? The unique, the imperfect, and the personal. A well-loved book open to a favorite passage on a side table, a cluster of eucalyptus on the mantle, a painting that is a reminder of love’s beginnings. None of that can be ordered and shipped in 3-5 business days. A home takes time to grow and blur the edges between walls, windowsills, and a life lived. 

Flaws make a home. The quirks, the muddy paw prints, the dents in the floor, and the door that won’t quite close all point to life lived.  Stories fill those beautiful not-quite-as-they-should-be details. Embrace them. 

So. How does one begin to homekeep? 

With invitation.

Home is a space that feels prayed in, safe. Walls are word-soaked. The more we invite others in, the more this occurs; memories saturate our spaces. A home is a second skin, the one that protects and identifies. It is not just bed and bath—it is our distinctiveness and our gift to others. We “open our home” and find that we are also baring our soul’s character. With each invitation, that character will soften, brighten, and quake for more of such goodness. Such light. It all is in how you see your space. If your eyes rest on something soothing, inspiring, story-laden, then certainly your life will be enriched because how can you not feel creative in a space that is in some way a cocoon of creation? Weave your nest full of things that bring joy and comfort and memory. The air thickens with it, and it draws company to it.

Each face a flaming candle, and with each and each a room burns a bit brighter, warming and beckoning. The cold is shut outside, herein is life—honest, beautiful, created and creating.

This is home.