The first house and the lasting home

Published 5:13 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Kristin and Michael just bought their first house. They had their first baby a little over a year ago.  hey are happy travelers moving along the road of life enjoying all its “firsts.”

The house is new, the walls are freshly painted, the cabinets are pristine and the floors are free from scratches.  New appliances gleam as rays of sun reach through windows to touch their shiny surfaces.

Kristin can hardly sleep at night. Her mind is day dreaming of colors, sofas, rugs and ideas for each space. She texts me often attaching pictures of things she has seen or a fabric she likes.

It helps to have a step mother who spent 43 years as an interior designer. What really helps for her is that there is no fee.  Maybe she will use the saved money to frame a photo of me for her bookshelf. That’s probably a bad idea now that I think about it; might hurt the décor!

How many houses did I help folks make into homes? How many children did I hold as I wandered through rooms? How many broken hearts did I witness when life brought tragedy through front doors? How many secrets did I watch spill out of locked closets?  How many clients became old friends and how many did I wave goodbye to as a moving van pulled away?

What a career it was and how many stories and life lessons I learned.

The main lesson learned through the thousands that I met was that no décor makes a house a home. The home becomes a reflection of the family who lives there.

Oh, I could help make the houses pretty and more functional. However, in every house there was the photo of a child on Santa’s lap, or the old antique that belonged to a great grandmother or the vase bought on a honeymoon that created the home.

It was the children screeching through rooms, the dinner in the crockpot, the dog dragging a toy or a plant that needed watering in the corner that brought the house to life and transformed it into a home.

When my son was growing up, he would fly down the steps and slap the wall at the bottom as he turned the corner. The wall was used to stop his flying leap so that he didn’t have to waste time stepping on treads.

Every few days I would get the 409 and clean the wall. I watched the hand prints move higher as my son grew. Then one day the smudges were gone. The clutter and chatter that three children create disappeared. They all left to find their own houses to call home.

“Kristin, I will help your ideas become a reality. I will see the walls get filled with wonderful art, but none as beautiful as those that will one day cover your shiny new refrigerator.”

This art will start out as marks of crayon on a piece of paper.  They will soon become stick figures and flowers. There will be a beautiful homemade card that reads, “To: Mommy, I love you!”  Schedules, pictures, and notes will cover the gleaming stainless for years.

The pristine walls will be adorned with tiny fingerprints that will become larger before you know it. The floor will be scratched from the dogs and other pets that will call your house their home.

The cabinets will be pulled and tugged by children climbing up to find a cookie or a snack. The bookshelves will be crammed with snapshots of your life and loves.

In the corner, you will find a plant that needs watering and, every now and then, a stray kid that doesn’t live there.

The door will change as the seasons do with wreaths, witches and hearts. You will open it to those bearing gifts, those wanting candy and those bringing love.

Yes, Kristin, one day your new house will grow old. One day it might even be sold. But every day you stay, the more the house will become a beautiful home simply because your family grew there.

Today my house is hauntingly quiet. It is a different house than the one my children called home. But, if I close my eyes, I swear I can hear three kids walking through the door yelling, “Mom! What’s for dinner?” I know I can hear Corey hitting the wall with his hands, the dog chasing the cat around the living room and the sounds of laughter everywhere.

Home goes with you wherever you are, wherever you go, until the “firsts” are gone and the “lasts” are on the horizon. That is what makes a house simply beautiful.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former resident and writer who currently resides in Roswell. She can be reached at