Home decor has never been my strong suit. I have always admired homes in design magazines, Pinterest, and Instagram, and I try to take inspiration from these when I am purchasing something for my home. But when I look around, my house looks nothing like those homes. My house is lived-in and a little mismatched. The walls don’t all coordinate and there are very few areas that would be considered Pinterest-worthy. I have always tried to just focus on the decor I love and ignore the insecurity I feel when I scroll on Instagram.
The way I think about my home changed entirely when I listened to Keneesha Buycks’ interview during the 2021 InDependent Wellness Summit. Listening to her interview encouraged me to think about the things that are most important to my family, and fill my home with them so that my home can tell the story of our family. She asked, “What story do we want our homes to tell?” I am so grateful she asked the question—I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
EMBRACE YOUR FAMILY’S STORY
I felt a huge sense of permission and grace after listening to Keneesha’s interview. My husband and I have very clear priorities in our life together: family and travel. What if I let myself embrace those two priorities and fill my home with tangible reminders of our large, loving family and the many adventures we have had together? I had a strong urge to embrace who we are as a family and allow our home to reflect that and to let go of the nagging feeling that my home never looked like it was supposed to.
As a military family, we move a lot. This has always played into my home decor— nothing seems permanent, so why would I take the time to focus on my home decor? This interview helped me look at my home in a different way. The walls of my house may be temporary, but our family’s story stays the same.
Military families who find themselves moving often can embrace the temporary nature of their homes by embracing their family’s story and filling their homes with the things that matter most to them. Keneesha taught me to think about the things that matter most and use those things to fill my home.
CREATE YOUR HOME ENVIRONMENT
There are some simple conversations and mental exercises that military families can do to use Keneesha’s ideas to look at their homes. Creating your home environment is a very personal experience and different for each person, but here are some ideas to get you started in thinking about your home in a new way:
Talk with your spouse about what is most important in your family. What drives your family? Do you love nature? Always travel? Love to cook? Always have music playing? Identify these important parts of your family’s story and think about ways to include pieces of these in your home.
Look around your home and take a mental inventory of your decor, even the parts you don’t love. What does each piece around your home say? What part of your story does it tell? I can look at my couch we don’t love and still tell you all the cuddles that have happened with our daughter and our pets—suddenly I’m looking at it with a lot of love. A change in perspective can help you look at your home in a new way.
Walk into each room of your home and look around from the perspective of a guest. Don’t worry about any messes. Ask yourself, what story does this room tell? Use this exercise to guide you as you think about any changes you may want to make.
In the months since embracing this new way of looking at my home, I have come to appreciate special pieces in our home more than ever. I look at them as essential parts of our story, not just things in our house. The table that my parents had in their house, where I had all my family dinners growing up—I’m loving it even more than I did before and letting it tell my family’s story. The pictures and mementos from trips that meant the world to me—I’m embracing them, even if their frames don’t match. The room I painted when I was grieving—I’m thanking it daily for giving me a place to be creative and providing exactly what I needed in that moment.
My husband and I have talked a lot about how we can fill our home with pieces that tell our unique story. We are currently gathering pictures of all of our grandparents and we have a plan of where to hang their pictures so we can see them daily. We are also looking at unique ways to display a world map in our living room, so we can reflect on our past trips and get inspired for more in the future. These aren’t things I would have considered in the past, but now I am incredibly excited to fill our home with these pieces that are specific to us.
I’m choosing to let our home tell our family’s story, and I can’t wait to fill it with more of who we are. I am embracing Keneesha’s message: take who you are and allow your home to reflect that. Everyone is unique, so homes will be, too. I am embarking on a new era of loving my home, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Ali Taylor is an Air Force spouse, mom of one, and educator. She is a program assistant at InDependent. Her passions include building community with others, traveling, and spending as much time as possible with her immediate and extended family. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities for Teaching and a Master’s in Education Policy. When she is not tutoring, doing freelance work, playing with her little one, or volunteering with InDependent, she can be found exploring outside or on a run.