House > home > sanctuary

2 November 2015
I remember the first day I walked into this house and then roamed around the back yard. We went down to the flowing creek, looked at the many trees here and listened to the birds as it slowly dawned on us that this place at the end of a one lane road, surrounded by pine forest and rain forest, was the home we'd been searching for. That was almost 20 years ago. Even though the house itself was a plain and simple shell and there were no fences, solar panels, tanks, verandahs, gardens or out buildings, there was a powerful feeling that this was our place. Those feelings are still echoing through our lives and almost every time I walk into our backyard I feel thankful to be here.

Let me tell you about where I live. We're in a small semi-rural town about one hour's drive from our State capital. There is a handful of small shops, a couple of cafes, a pub, primary school, a small medical centre, a post office and a small independent supermarket. Most people who come here are on the way to somewhere else. Our closest town, 5km away, is Beerwah, home of the Crocodile Hunter's Australia Zoo. Further up the mountain is Maleny, a 15 minute drive. So even though thousands of people pass through here every day, few of them call this town home and even fewer are travelling to come here. To tell you the truth, Landsborough is considered a bit daggy. There are no 'macmansions' here, most homes don't have a swimming pool, the shopping malls are further away, and the boutique shops are in the mountains behind us. Here the house blocks are big so there's ample room for gardens and chickens; and even horses or goats if that is your thing. But people don't want that. It seems small blocks of land with large houses close to shops and other amenities are prime real estate now. 

During our first few years here, I didn't live the life that I have come to since, but in that first year we installed our first water tank, solar hot water system, put up fences, built a chicken coop and improved the soil to grow vegetables and fruit. We started to modify this place from day one so that it suited us and our sons. But when our lives changed and we used the house as a real home, spending time here, using the land to grow food and the inside space to make as much as we could, the changes accelerated. As life opened up, so did the house. It changed from being a place where we slept and prepared to go out to work, to the place where we did the work. That created a domino effect as we modified the house to suit what we were doing and it turned the house into a home and a home into a sanctuary.

By modifying a house and land to suit you and your aspirations, you create a place where you can do your best work while feeling comfortable and secure. There is no formula for this, just change what isn't right for you. You might reorganise things so you have a stockpile cupboard, or a craft room. You might bake more so you create a baking area in your kitchen where your ingredients are all kept in the same place and your baking tins are on hand. When you start knitting or crocheting, you may move furniture around so you can sit closer to the window where the light is brighter. Your focus might be on outside work so you change your garage or shed to better suit storing tools and working on outdoor projects. I want to encourage those of you who have bought a house that might not be quite right for how you want to live, to start modifying it. Nests have to be fluffed up and changes made and when they are, living is easier and a whole new world can open up for you. It can be life changing.

This is important work. Your home is a firm foundation for you and your children, a safe haven for all of you. It should provide you with the right environment to breathe out and relax. If it doens't, change it. I'm not talking about housekeeping or redecorating, this is about changing the bones of the house to make housekeeping and your life easier. It's worth the time and effort you put into it. And remember, this isn't something you'll do in a weekend or even a year.  This is a life's work. You'll keep changing as you grow older and if your home reflects those constant subtle changes it will always be the softest place to land.