In our culture, we’ve gotten awfully distracted by the word “house” and the real estate business has turned something pretty personal into something much more transactional and commoditized. But when you get right down to the core of it, it’s what a home does for your life, the stage it presents for all the players in your world, that really needs to be the most important piece of the conversation. We recently accepted a new listing, a little outside the farm and ranch land sweetspot we’re used to living in, but Harman Ranches is purpose driven to connect high character people around high-character land. That core remains true. We were inspired to write this piece after a conversation with our high-character client wherein he got us thinking hard about what makes a house into a home. We wanted to share it with you all.
“We’re not on top of eachother, but we’re very involved with each other.”
We were talking with the owner of a home in downtown in Fredericksburg, and this sentence was not what we expected to hear when describing a 3,700 square foot house. What he was conveying was the essence of the life they live there. See, they didn’t build the house to be big, they didn’t want the members of their family to be separated by walls, but rather gathered into space for a life that overlaps more and more. See, anything that’s good starts with something intentional behind it. A Harman Ranches core value is, “Effort=Care”, The level of effort you put in equals the level of care people receive. This home literally embodies that concept. The effort was put towards caring for every guest and resident, child or adult, who steps through the door. The great room is great, inviting, huge, and beautiful. But it wasn’t designed just to be big for the sake of being big, it was designed to serve as a centerpoint, a hub for all the most essential family functions that bring family life together. It’s a home that’s beautiful, but also designed to be used. “It’s a constant, open invitation to come over any time. We built it for people, for our friends.”
Making a space meaningful
There is this really hard-to-achieve line between making a place beautiful and also livable. Museums are great, but they’re covered in “do not touch” signs both literally and figuratively. So if you want a place to be beautiful but approachable, it takes intention in the design process. “We wanted to be able to say, ‘let the kids run on those wood floors, they’ll be just fine!’ As a result every inch of the home has been thought out, doubted, refined, and then confirmed.” It just takes work, a lot of it. Again, effort=care.
This is just a single example, but as we talked through the space, it’s obviously dipped in so many shades of white and gray, but as the builder and indweller of this home began describing the white, we just stood back and gaped. Here’s why. They had noticed over the years that many shades of white can feel overly sterile, unsaturated, too clean to keep clean. But, they had also seen other shades evoke a sense of welcome and softness. Like cotton linen vs polyester, they’re both white, but you’d only want to sleep on sheets made out of cotton. If your head’s not spinning, you’re ahead of us, and this was only one anecdote in a conversation that spanned everything from the layout on the marble-covered master bathroom. Everything was truly crafted from intention. That’s what you get when you build houses for a living, then decide you want to build your own.
There’s something odd that happens when a fine home builder creates his own home. He can do what no one else can. He digs into his “collection” of experiences over the years, and draws out a mixture that is a combination of the very best work he’s done during that time. They just can’t help it! But the result is that you get a highly refined home that’s built to serve the needs of anyone who visits, because that’s what they know how to do. They know how to build homes that serve others. He’s seen guests “ooh” and “ahh” over certain details, he’s watched people navigate the layout of a space. He’s seen a pack of kids beat the tarnation out of a bedroom. He’s watched people smile their way toward a kitchen. So by now, he knows what works and what doesn’t. He knows what speaks to the soul of a person as well as what just won’t practically work. This space is the culmination of that history.
So what makes a home?
It’s space that offers and invites embrace. It’s that feeling you get when you open the front door and a person smiles, marches in with confidence and immediately begins enjoying where they are. It’s that crazy thing that happens, rarely, when you see someone exit the stress of their day and come smiling into the present moment. It’s brightness, sunlight, no hiding places and all the noise of everybody’s kid going straight for the swimming pool. The Joke that starts the grownups laughter, that invites the kids to laugh too and ends up with everybody playing in the pool after dinner. The kitchen’s not a place to be “stuck in” it’s a place to host from, the dining room isn’t exclusive or distant, it’s inclusive and central. Play and work can all combine. Doesn’t that just sound a little heavenly to you? It does to us.
This blog is written after a conversation with the owner of a home we are helping him to sell called Aqua Via Downtown. This is more about the idea of home than the property itself, but you’d like to see a picture, you can head over here and take a look.