I’m 30 now, but I haven’t yet reached the point of homeownership. It may be that I’m noncommittal, or that I’m not quite ready to officially root myself in one place and tackle the financial burden and responsibilities that come with owning your own home. But I think the real reason is that no matter where I live, I’m always able to make wherever I am “home” in my own way. I’ve lived in lots of places over the years — in various apartments and houses, and even once with four roommates. We won’t get into how (mostly) awful that was.
Today, I rent a cute little house in the University of Memphis area, one with a stooped bungalow roof, a spacious backyard for the pup, and a big front porch complete with an old wooden swing. Last summer, I planted wildflowers, herbs, and fruits in my front yard (cantaloupes thrive in Memphis, in case you weren’t aware), and I’ve got a nice collection of unique wind chimes that sing to me when the breeze hits them right. Inside, I’ve covered the walls and shelves with things I love: favorite music and movie posters, vintage butterflies, and trinkets I’ve collected through the years, things that represent my personality, style, and history. It isn’t technically my house, but that doesn’t mean it’s not my home.
When I think about all of the different places people call home — houses in suburban neighborhoods, condos in the center of bustling cities, remote cabins in the woods, or even houseboats floating on tranquil waters — I realize that home is wherever we make it.
My dad lives in what I’d call a country cottage on the outskirts of Greenwood, Mississippi. It sits on a family-owned plot of land off the main highway into town — down a gravel road, past a soybean field, across from a swamp (with gators!). He built the place himself from the foundation up several years ago, as a getaway, a “shop” as he calls it, where he’d go to work on cars, tinker with toys, and store the many antiques he’s collected from estate sales and the like. He has since made it his permanent home.
The floors are concrete, the accommodations are modest yet sufficient, and the yard is strewn with rusty treasures (mechanical equipment, tools, and building materials) he’s accumulated — some of them dug up near railroad tracks, some collected from friends who no longer had use for them. He’s a bit of a “picker” and finds beauty and reusability potential in old things. Like me, my dad has created his own dream home by surrounding himself with things that represent who he is and where he’s been.
Here in Memphis, Jim and Linda Brigance did something similar but on a much grander scale, as you’ll see in this month’s main feature, “Riverside Drive Renaissance” (see page 20). They picked a perfect spot to plant their roots here in Memphis — a three-story elegant house on Tennessee Street — and gave it a complete makeover, bringing to life their vision of a dream home, planning its redesign from concept to finish, and incorporating art from all their travels to give the finished product a very personal touch. Their home really is a thing of beauty.
Though I’m not a homeowner and don’t have immediate plans to become one, working on our first two annual “Home Resource Guides” has been a great learning experience. Compiling the directory proved to be a task, albeit fruitful, as there are hundreds of qualified local service providers in our area available to address the many needs that arise for homeowners. And talking with some of our local craftsmen, technicians, and contractors has provided me with helpful advice for the future, so when the time comes that I find myself needing these services, I’ll be better prepared.
But most of all, it has helped define my perception of what home should be: a comfortable, safe place where you can entertain friends, raise a family, or just relax alone with a book or movie; a place for rest and renewal; a place to call your own.
Whether your dream home is a sprawling mansion, a quaint country cottage, or a cute little rented house with a flower bed full of cantaloupes and a porch lined with wind chimes, it’s a place you can find (if you haven’t already). Home is wherever we make it. At the end of the day, it’s where the heart is.
Shara Clark Special Projects Editor