I grew up basically in one house. My four kids have lived in five houses, all in Baltimore, and the oldest is only 11. Some were upgrades due to space; others were due to money/school/life. It’s because of all these moves that I’ve been thinking a lot about what a home means. As a writer my first instinct is to always put thought to paper.
But as much as I’ve written about my family before, I haven’t really written about our houses. I think because for me, mostly, our house has brought me joy by what I’ve filled it with. Not the location (we’ve had some really great locations) and not by it’s size (we tend to be on top of each other regardless of how many bedrooms we have) but the other stuff. Obviously, there are a million “first” memories: first garden, first laundry room on the top floor (man I miss that), first birds nest, first mouse, first rat, first parking spot, first neighbor to entrust with a key, first car broken into, first baby brought home, first snowstorm, and on and on.
For me, it’s also about the other stuff. The family photos that literally infest our home, the plants I’ve kept alive for more than a year, all my books, and my husband’s cookbooks, the dishes that belonged to my great-grandma, the pieces of art we’ve collected in Israel, Ireland, Jamaica, and Greece. And I’m not talking expensive pieces, but the ones that take us back to an exact moment of a memory. The piece of pottery we found on our honeymoon 14 years ago that (luckily) fit into the “seat trunk” of our Vespa as we zipped around Santorini. We have tons of local art pieces that line our walls, bought at farmers’ markets and local craft shows. People think I’m crazy, but I usually have all my art up on my walls within the first week of a move. Only then does our house feel like a home.
Here are some of my favorite places in my house:
Now, as the new features editor for Baltimore Home—tasked with expanding our digital presence, creating a social media buzz, and rethinking our Home quarterly, I intend to define what home really means. To me it’s not just about the zip code, but the actual neighborhood and neighbors. That a house can be an itty-bitty row house (been there!) or a sprawling estate. We want our editorial content to be relevant, innovative, useful, and enjoyable. We want to cover everything that it means to live in a house, from renovations to raising families in small spaces, to interviews with local creative designers, to trends our city is embracing, and what it means to be a neighbor.
Everyone defines home differently and our goal is to convey that. We’ll be introducing some Home bloggers over the next few weeks, from a recovering architect turned photographer (who, along with her husband, has used her skills to renovate two of their own homes) to someone taking the steps of co-habitation, to easy DIY projects (and for real we mean easy) to folks living through their own home renovations to my occasional blog “Kid vs. House.” We’d love to hear from you. What stuff do you have in our house that makes you happy? What makes your neighborhood amazing? What topics would you like to see our Home section cover?
I’m writing this on my (well-loved Crate & Barrel) couch, the sunlight streaming through my windows, a new piece of art ready to be hung, my kids playing upstairs (ohh, summer) and really, wherever that is, I’m home.
Janelle Diamond is the managing editor of Baltimore Weddings and new features editor of Baltimore Home. Email her with your ideas and pitches about your favorite local spaces, places, and faces that make the city home.