When friends enter a home, they sense its personality and character, the family’s style of living – these elements make a house come alive with a sense of identity, a sense of energy, enthusiasm, and warmth, declaring, ‘This is who we are, this is how we live.’
Kind words about Simplicity, spontaneous compliments, show up like surprise gifts on an un-birthday. Their arrival comes out of the blue, usually framed in only a sentence or two. “This is the first time I feel I have entered a home rather than a house,” spoke one. “It is such a wonderful place to visit. I feel so rejuvenated after leaving. There is a special feeling when you are in Simplicity,” spoke another. Words deeply appreciated and not forgotten.
While we have been mindful in our care and attention to Simplicity, she does not stand out like a Parade of Homes kind of house. In fact, the very opposite. We have come to believe that the often instinctive and involuntary comments uttered by those who walk through her door are equally because of what she is not, as well as what she is.
She is not cluttered or overstuffed. She is orderly. A constant due diligence is required to return everything to its place. What is not present in her living room is a television. With other rooms in the house available for watching shows and movies, this room is designated for conversation and being with people. The way chairs and tables are arranged supports seeing each other, not a television. While we have them, we do not use overhead lights, preferring the atmosphere that floor and table lamps offer a room. Simple intentions to create a place to relax. When people walk in, they take a breath. Simplicity offers that kind of space. She quiets the chaotic mind, invites a chance to take a break from the overwhelm of life.
A friend and frequent overnight guest at Simplicity, shared how she experiences her stays in our house. We were sitting across from each other at the dining table, finishing our meal, but not our conversation. “Simplicity feels like a spiritual retreat to me,” she said. “Every aspect of Simplicity is loved. Care and thoughtfulness is what this home is about and this care and thoughtfulness come from the love and respect of her and all who are here.”
I sat quietly, letting the words tumble back and forth from my head to my heart. What beautiful qualities for a home to hold. I thought back to our hopes when we first bought this boxy American four-square: to create a sacred place for us to incubate our dreams, to bring a sense of sanctuary and safety to those who entered, to offer hospitality and warmth, to keep all rooms in order and uncluttered.
Our friend continued to speak, “Everything in Simplicity has an intention. Nothing is without a purpose.” I looked around the dining room and into the living room. My eyes caught items that were deeply loved and placed with purpose. An English gate leg table from my Aunt Dorothy’s home brings interest to a dull and dark corner. Just seeing it reminds me of the charm of Aunt Dorothy, her home where everything was placed with loving intention. An art deco lamp that is unusual, yet fits our eclectic décor. I remember the day Don and I saw it in a catalog and instantly said, “This would be perfect for Simplicity.” A black Buddha statue, eyes closed and toes sticking out from under his robe. How carefully I carried him from the gift shop at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West to bring both a sense of peace and whimsy to Simplicity. Each time we look at him, he invokes a smile from us. He sits on top of a Japanese medicine chest that came into our lives as a wedding gift. With its many small drawers labeled in gold paint to identify each herb or medicinal aid, the chest itself speaks of intention and purpose.
Simplicity and her many parts are loved. Each piece holds a story of how it came into our lives, into this old house. Each piece contributes to the feel, mood, and impression of Simplicity. Perhaps this is how a house becomes a home.