One of our favorite spots in America is in Flat Rock, North Carolina, just outside of Asheville. Around a few bends and through a copse or two of hickory and birch, you find yourself in front of Connemara, the home of Carl Sandburg.
Sandburg was a Pulitzer-winning poet and a biographer of Lincoln who coined the phrase “land of big shoulders” in reference to the city of Chicago. We love his short poem “Fog”.
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
At Connemara, now a National Park, you can see his circa-1838 farmhouse and his wife Lillian’s herd of prize Chikaming goats, but it’s the interior of the house that draws us there. Sandburg died at Connemara in 1967, and the house is much like it was when he was alive. Old copies of LIFE magazine and local newspapers litter the coffee table. A lace doily rests on the back of an armchair. A half-smoked cheroot cigar waits in an ashtray. The kitchen looks – well, it just looks lived in.
It’s a house that was very much a home.
Moving into a newly constructed custom home provides you with the perfect blank slate, but what can you do to make your new house feel “lived in”?
Once you’ve tackled furniture placement, a great place to start when creating that homey feeling is putting something on those blank walls. A collage of family photos or some favorite pieces of artwork tells visitors a great deal about you and your tastes and values. It personalizes things.
Scatter some knick-knacks. If you love to travel, display some shells or trinkets collected during your explorations. Tools and implements from your work life tell a story about how you got to where you are today. They also provide perfect fodder for bringing back happy memories.
Don’t be too organized. When designing custom homes for clients, we’re often asked to include custom storage solutions, especially for favorite crafts and pastimes. While we’re big fans of organization and everything having its place, there is a place in your new house for a few odds & ends. If you’re a reader, leave a few books on a side table. If you love to cook, gather a collection of your favorite utensils in a crock on the counter.
You may not have a herd of prize-winning goats. Your house may not see over a million visitors a year, and probably doesn’t have a staff of National Park rangers. A few simple things, however, can make your new house your new home.