What makes a house a home?

By Rebecca Hermance
Columnist for the Journal

Sometimes inspiration strikes in the most unlikely places. As I write this, I am sitting at my grandmother’s table in a small town in Montana.  We are having a family reunion at the end of the week, and some of us were lucky enough to come to Grandma’s early.

Everything about this home is extremely familiar.  Grandpa and Grandma built it at the foothills of the Rocky mountains in the early 1950s.  They raised six kids on their cattle ranch and grew hay in the meadows.  In later years, they hosted many out-of-state hunters who came for the true Montana experience.  Through my teenage years, we spent many Christmas and summer holidays running around the ranch, despite the all-too-frequent visits from grizzly bears and mountain lions.

In the late ‘90s, Grandpa and Grandma retired and moved their entire house about 30 miles into town.  Grandpa had built the house with the intention of someday moving it, so it fit nicely onto two trucks.  For a long time after the move it was a rather disconcerting feeling to look out the front window and see houses rather than a meadow full of white tail deer and mountains.

Inside the house the walls are filled with art, mostly painted by Grandma but a few from friends or other artists in our family.  Very old photographs mix in with new ones but I know who most of the people are. The walls are a mixture of drywall and paneling, and the living room drapes are the same ones I remember as a child. Tin can art and various knickknacks fill shelves and window ledges, each one holding a memory.  Grandpa has been gone for several years now, but I can still hear his voice echoing down the hall.

While this home is not likely to be featured in a magazine, it has welcomed hundreds of people with open arms. There is no pretension here; what you see is what you get. Nothing was built or decorated with potential resale in mind. A small bathroom added to the house was done entirely in pink, shower included. This home was built to live in. It was built and decorated entirely for function and enjoyment.

Being here again has further reinforced a thought that has been in my heart for quite a while now. Many times we get so worried about the resale value of our homes that we forget to make it our own. Understandably, many of us won’t live in the same home for over 60 years, but why not make it ours and instill those precious memories while we can. Let’s not be afraid to try out a color we love or to put a nail in the wall.

This family reunion could be one of the last times we are all able to get together. Our family is spread across the United States, but each one has felt the pull to be here this week. I feel lucky to be a little part of this home and this family, and I hope I will always remember to let our home reflect our life and the memories we create.


Rebecca Hermance’s grandparents home. The house taught Hermance what it really means to create a home.

Rebecca is a local interior designer, educator and all-around fun mom. Check out more of her projects at UniquelyYouInteriors.com

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