I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, “A house is made of walls and beams, but a home is made of love and dreams.” This saying couldn’t be more true. It takes hands to build the house you live in, but the hearts inside are the only ones to truly make it a home. Some of you may still be living in the same house you raised your kids in, while others have moved on to new homes, a new living situation, new cities, or their children may now occupy the homes they grew up in. Regardless of where you are, everyone has something in common; memories are built into the foundation of any home.
Now think about being in your 80’s, living in the same house you raised your family in, and having made the decision, along with your family, to make significant renovations to your home to age in place independently and safely. Many seniors have lived for years in their home, never having made any significant renovations, much like one of our favorite clients. Her desire to remain at home and create a first floor master bedroom and bath will uproot and change the very essence of the home she shared with her family for over 50 years. She’s nervous that new construction and the change of furniture, walls and home renovations will create a space that feels unfamiliar, and along with it, will go the connection with the deep rooted memories embedded in the home.
With the first phase of the construction contract signed, renovations will start shortly on the 2nd floor to freshen it up, and along with this, her anxiousness towards the process is evident. What will happen to the memories? Will she miss the familiar reminders of happy times, and how will the adjustment to her new surroundings serve her? How do these changes affect family members and their memories also embedded in the structure? It’s often as difficult, if not more difficult, for the children of the seniors that no longer live in the home to suffer the loss of home as they have known it when construction occurs. They have moved on, and out of the house, but their memories remain. How will a lifetime of memories be maintained and incorporated into the new framework?
Prior to the start of the renovations, we have spent a significant amount of time working with her to declutter, clean out and eliminate the items that are no longer needed. As part of that process, wonderful memories have presented themselves in all forms, like old photographs, letters, trinkets, and even unopened presents. We uncovered an entire collection of Norman Rockwell commemorative plates that were never opened, and in their original packaging (which we will put on display and enjoy!) All of these unexpected moments have not only occupied our client’s time up until construction, but given her the opportunity to find, review and reflect on these memories and find comfort in this time of change. There have been moments of her wanting to call the renovations off, but because of her trust in us, and our constant support she pushes through.
It’s our job to help her, give her peace of mind, and reassure that the construction is not diminishing the memories; instead it’s adding to them while enabling her to live safely for years to come. Our design will incorporate not only favorite pieces of furniture, artwork and now, new found treasures, we also plan to create a full gallery wall to display photographs, letters, awards, and other memories in her new environment. She will continue to be surrounded by her memories, and be reminded of her life full of laughter, joy, and love.