Why we are sentimental about our HOMES

There’s something about HOME.

Just after our second child was born, we relocated from our perfect little starter house in Bellevue (Pittsburgh PA) to our current home a little further north. It was a necessary move- we needed more space and shorter work commute- but that didn’t make it any easier. Our first home together was our nest, the place where we painstakingly planned our wedding, navigated through all the challenges of shared decorating responsibilities, and brought home our two perfect little babies for the first time (and where the second one was almost delivered!). There are just so many BIG memories there.

(All of the photos in this post were taken in our beautiful Bellevue home…)

Susan Clayton, an environmental psychologist at the College of Wooster, says that for many people, their home is part of their self-definition. Author Julie Beck adds that

“A home is a home because it blurs the line between the self and the surroundings, and challenges the line we try to draw between who we are and where we are.”

I find that unsurprising, considering “Where do you live?” is one of the first questions people ask when meeting someone new. Our homes give so much information about who we are. And you don’t have to have an interior design Pinterest board (yes, I do! 😉 ) to acknowledge how much time and money we spend on personalizing the place we spend most of our time.

We have so many emotions caught up in those walls (and judging by my reaction to the photo below- we have emotions caught up in the neighborhood, too!).

Let’s talk, too, about memories. Neurologists say pictures trigger buried memories much faster than words. (Nice to hear it’s not just me!) It is so much the case that clinical psychologists are using photographs as ‘reminiscence therapy‘ for patients with dementia. Which is so incredibly cool!

It is the EMOTIONS in these memories that make them so special. But the emotions are not just in the simple stories told in each image, but also in the setting where the story is told. The picture below is so incredibly special to me not just because of the sweet story of my husband watching my son figure out how the humidifier works; but also because of the influx of memories that room holds. The t-shirt sheets that my husband loved, the co-sleeper that all my babies used, the hodgepodge of hand-me-down rugs and furniture that we shared as we saved up to decorate, even the lavender color on the walls that my husband grabbed out of the discount bin in an attempt to get something on the walls before moving in. It was all collectively our Sunday morning story at that point in our lives. And looking at this photo gives me waves of nostalgia.

It makes sense, then, that relocating into a new home- even one you are excited to move to- can be a traumatic life event. Sarah Godfrey, Australian psychologist and blogger, offers many suggestions to combat the emotional impact of moving. One of her suggestions is to create a coffee table book, documenting your life in your home before you move on- giving a space to your memories, in order to honor and recall them. In our current home we have already taken this suggestion and run with it… before we renovated our kitchen, we brought in a professional photographer to document our life as it was, all the in-between moments, and then we created a coffee table memory book of A Day in Our Life. My kids PORE over this book, pointing out the old cabinet they drew on and the stove that lost its handle. They suddenly remember how hard it was to get the baby locks off the cabinet doors (thankfully! haha). They even gush about how cool the photographer was. Reading that book, suddenly they remember EVERYTHING.

I wish we had been photographed similarly in our old home in Bellevue. After we had our second baby in 16 months, that home was my postpartum sanctuary. I am sure we were happy in all the chaos, but the details sure are hazy… until of course I go back and look at photographs.

I read an article by Kelly Kehler on Design Sponge that really clicked for me. She talks about eulogizing a home:

It’s the loss of the vessel that held our memories. It’s almost as if leaving a home rich in such a lived-in history causes our memories to spill out everywhere, and we feel like we’ve spun out of orbit, scrambling to collect them.” ~Kelli Kehler, Design Sponge

That’s exactly how it feels, I think. But pictures PRESERVE the memories. Pictures outlast all the life changes.

THIS is why I photograph families the way I do, because I want to document and preserve their memories, too.

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Preserve your memories! Get information about your own REAL LIFE Session!

white text overlaid on faded out image of son standing on toilet watching dad shave in the bathroom

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