I remember when I first moved to England. I was intimidated. Now, I know that from the outside, living in England isn't that much different from living in the US. It didn't take very long to realise that it is indeed different. The houses are smaller and quite often very old. Most of the houses in this country have heating in each individual room, and the rooms all have doors to keep the heat in. Yeah. I think that's a bit different.
When I moved here, I had the task of making our house our home. It wasn't easy at first. My husband and I had just gotten married, so I felt like I was taking over his space. The other hurdle I faced was the cultural differences when it came to making our home.
Some friends of ours gave us the book, Dwelling: Living Fully from the Space You Call Home as a wedding gift. I found it helpful to read through the book as someone who was living cross-culturally because it gave me a new perspective on what "home" connotes.
Here are some things I've found helpful in making our house feel like home in England.
Don't change; adapt. For a long while, the cultural differences between England and the US are what held me back from really making our house a home. It's taken me awhile recognise that yes, there are cultural differences, but I don't necessarily have to follow the cultural norm in my own home. Instead, I've taken my own approach and put an American spin on the way I run my home. That way, I'm adapting to the culture and keeping some of my own American culture.
Our home is a refuge. My home is my own space... my own refuge from the rest of the world. When I've had a busy day, I look forward to coming home because I know I'll be safe there. I even have my own corner of the house where I can (sometimes) escape and be alone with the Lord. I know my husband feels comfortable in our home. I hope someday that my son will feel the same way when he comes home after a rough day.
Add a few things from the US. Don't get me wrong, I want to adapt to the English culture as much as possible. There are, however, a few things that I love to bring from the US that help our house feel more like home. Just about every time we have family come to visit, I ask them to bring me a big bag of cornmeal. I loooooove corn bread, and it makes me feel at home when I can have it with a big bowl of soup! The other things I loved bringing from the US are quilts. My mother has made us a few quilts, including ones I had from childhood. Having them in our house in England makes it feel more like home for some reason.