The Intentional Home

A broom left out of the cupboard, a door half-opened, a book with the page folded over (surely signifying something of importance to the reader), a linen curtain, pulled aside. This house is lived in. Yet, something is different. Careful consideration has been taken in choosing the linen drapes: raw edges but of a thick, quality material; the dishes on the kitchen shelves are imperfectly shaped: handmade; the home is decorated with natural elements, in a way that seems neither to disturb the elements nor the domestic quality of the house: simply, nature brought indoors.

Glimpse into the intentional home and you will find life; a bit of mess, some laundry and a dish or two in the sink. However, you are also likely to come across well-made items of a sturdy material, handmade ceramics, a couple of rustic storage bins and a soft, dreamy bed. The considered home is one of purposefully chosen items, meaningful exchanges, and comfort away from the hurried world. It is aesthetically pleasing without taking away from the functionality and comfort that it offers. The intentional home is a refuge from worries and gives meaning to those that dwell within the shelter it provides.

I began learning about creating an intentional household years ago when the slow living movement was still being brought to life. However, it wasn’t until earlier this year that I actively strived for it. I was coming out of a very busy year and wanted the new one to be less hurried, more meaningful. I work from home and as a mother, spend a lot of time in the house with my young baby, so I knew if I wanted to create more meaning in my life, it had to begin with my home.

Through my experience of creating a more intentional household, I have learned a lot about “home” and how deep a meaning it holds for us... Our home is our shelter, our nest. It keeps us safe from the elements, and provides a soft place to land. It is a nesting ground, if you will. Yet, it serves as more than just a functional necessity. “Home” is the center of our world, the hinge on which our lives revolve.

So, what is ‘the intentional household’ made of?

  1. Items that matter: the intentional household is one that has been cleared of clutter... the things left are the things that matter: the things we use daily, the things we know we will need, the things that bring us joy each day just by being there. Photos and keepsakes are important parts of our homes, too, and as long as each has been considered and deemed meaningful, should not be considered clutter.
  2. Handmade items: whether it be a collage your child made or a homemade loaf of bread, handmade items are an important part of homemaking. Making things in our homes helps us to feel more a part of our homes, and thus more content with them. One can also buy handmade items from others. Buying handmade can bring so much joy to our homes; it celebrates artists and makers and their small businesses, and allows us to hold something unique and made with dedication.
  3. Quiet moments: we cannot create intentional homes if we cannot find moments to be still and intentional ourselves. Quiet moments are vital to awareness and reflection. We can make our homes more fitting for these moments by adopting a concept from the Danish, called “hygge.” In English, it means ‘coziness’ and is often associated with welcoming spaces, warm blankets and candles. These things can help us create a sense of calm and relaxation in our homes.
  4. Simple food: the intentional household is intentional through and through. The kitchen too, will have been considered: what ingredients you keep stocked up will depend on your family’s needs, but having a well-stocked kitchen keeps us prepared for making things from scratch, and thus being able to make things ourselves.
  5. Good company: put your phone down. Turn off the TV. Be aware of the people who are there with you. Yes, you may see them every day, but don’t become blind to what is right in front of you. Talk face to face, without distractions. Sit down for dinner together. Make something together. Even if you live alone, make an effort to invite others over. Our homes should be a place where we spend quality, meaningful time with the ones we care about.

The intentional home is a place of comfort, of consideration, of thoughtfulness. It is a soft place to land, a nesting ground. It is lived in: a tea towel, tossed on the table after a hurried breakfast, a book, left open, a blanket, unfolded... yet everything: considered. The intentional home captures our lives in a tangible way. It envelopes the things that give our lives meaning, and it is these things...like a book whose spine creaks from too much handling...that bring the intentional home to life.