Friday, April 13, 2012


(Warning: this post and next week's may be a bit girlie for you men who read my blog. However, you're also invited to peek into our house. They do have a name for you though. . .but I'll not call you a voyeur! Welcome!)

Home. One word with so many varied feelings and images, depending on who you are.

When I started this blog it was to throw back the curtains of our home and let you in. Another purpose was to capture family history for our own clan. Today's blog is a glimpse of some of our houses over the years. Next week you'll also get a peek inside to see what makes our house a home. Along with pictures, I'll share my heart because


Growing up in a military family meant moving every two years. Then marrying into a ministry life also meant moving from time to time. While my history has many houses, home was one thing.

Maya Angelou captures it well:
"Home is refuge, not only from the world but a refuge from my worries, my terrible concerns. . .I like beautiful things around me, I like to be beautiful, because it delights my eyes and my soul is lifted up. . . Home is a location but it is also a destination. . . for wherever we go we take everything we've ever known with us, whether we know it or not."

But this blog focuses on the house part. Next week I'll share my thoughts on home. Both are important but not the same thing.


Growing up, we lived in everything from old New England homes renovated into apartments, actual military apartments, Mayberry-type houses with huge trees in the front yard to Florida-style homes in both Florida and Cuba, overlooking the aqua Caribbean.

As an adult, I began life in a converted garage. Doug and I moved in right behind our good friends, Bobby and Phyllis Parker. We lived in duplexes, parsonages and built 3 houses. We owned 2 others. Some of these are pictured here. I vow not to move again until God relocates me to heaven. He's preparing that house!
Duplex we rented as newlyweds in Kinston, NC

English tudor (Raleigh, NC) was the 2nd house we built

Our 3rd construction in Carrollton, VA

It sounds noble to say, "Oh the house doesn't matter, just so we're all together as a family, it's home." While there's some truth there, any woman with a nesting instinct knows that the house does matter. Even if we rent, there's a settling-in that decorates the space and reflects who we are that makes the house home. Until that happens we may not feel secure with that sense of belonging.

Mama knew how to throw up the curtains quickly, unpack our boxes and restore that sense of family life to every new space.

Henry David Thoreau put it this way,
"I had three chairs in my house;
one for solitude,
two for friends,
and three for society."

Mom and Dad also modeled how to make friends quickly by offering hospitality within that space. She never waited for it to look perfect, never tried to impress folks with her style or stuff. She baked chocolate chip cookies and invited new neighbors, kids, church folks or lonely military sailors, "Come on over!"

Those lessons gave me a clear pattern for making our houses an open invitation to others. We may have only had budget for brownies and the dust may have decorated the furniture. People didn't seem to notice. I'd still hear, "It's good to be in your home." Welcoming was about making people comfortable. The gift of hospitality is not so much about the place and space. It's a heart that say, "You're welcomed here! I like being with you. We're open." (Last week's blog explored that.)

I believe our house should reflect our personalities, histories and life. I'm not one to cookie-cutter what others have or a magazine shows. That's just a collection of stuff. Infuse yourself into your house and it feels like you! Mine tells my story. Acquiring things over time, rather than decorating per se personalizes the space in which we live. Memories are in every room.

I had to learn to edit. Without that ability, clutter happens without me even realizing it. Less is more. So I can rotate things in and out of rooms, rather than ALL at ONCE! Think hoarders! It begins without editing.

BEFORE: Bathroom needing editing . . . AFTER decluttering and painting

Our history and personality combine to create our tastes.Living in Guantanamo Bay launched a lifetime love for the color turquoise. Our view was over that aqua Caribbean. So my bathroom reflects that place of rejuvenation even today.

We visited Haiti back then so my bedroom even has a reminder of that time. Doug's paintings reflect him in several rooms. His woodwork is everywhere. Years ago one of our pastors, Randy Cox, told him, "Doug, if you die first, Kathy can't remarry. There's too much of you in this house for any other man!"

Grandma Tippett sitting on our front porch swing in Raleigh

Grandma Tippett's green thumb and lush flower bed gave me an appreciation for the outdoors so I bring it in with perpetual spring in my living room.
I never promised you a rose garden, nevertheless. . .

Informal entertaining passed on by generations of women made my style comfortable, practical in furniture. I want it to say, "Sit. Relax. Put your feet up." So folks do!

The purpose of a room determines many of my choices like color or furnishings. Notice the cool, calm colors above for relaxing in our family room. However, our dining room is a place of laughter, fun and celebration. So I chose a very energetic color to reflect that feeling.
Two rooms in our house are multi-functional. When Doug and I use the family room, the sofa table serves for both eating or as a small office area.

I designed and he built a large hassock on rollers. It too can be a desk, a foot rest or extra seating.
The music studio becomes a spare bedroom sometimes. So the futon opens into a queen bed. The window can be darkened for napping babies (or adults!)

Economy drives my budget so learning to decorate on a shoestring made me a bargain hunter. Number one rule is always live below your means. Even America is finally learning that you can't spend more than you have! That taught me to shop yard sales, flea markets and consignment shops. I have radar for discount aisles in stores and I start at 50% off but love the 80-90% rows! People always ask, "How do you find these prices?" It's not rocket science. Just a few tricks of the marketing trade:
  • Buy off season.
  • Shop the backs and corners of stores, especially the round racks.
  • Work your way through junk stores to find the quality piece.
  • Ask for discounts on anything! Managers have that power.
  • Online shopping has discounts and coupons available.
  • Buy damaged, used or floor models.
  • Decide when quality matters and when it doesn't. Mattresses matter. Waste baskets may not.
Next week we'll take a look at what makes a house into a home.

1 comment:

  1. Patty Raper wrote:

    Enjoyed the journey! Thanks for sharing.