Home is what you make it

This is a more personal insight that I would usually share on my blog, however… I’m listening to my peeps – and it seems there are a lot of folk that want to know how it is I’ve come to be where I am, doing what I love. (of course if I had all the fairy dust in the world I would have everyone doing what they love all the time!)

I’ve been a photographer for 14 years – whoa. Where has the time gone? I feel like it was not all that long ago I left my little home town of Hobart to venture to Melbourne and landed on my mentor's doorstep offering to assist on shoots for free (despite the fact I only had some stale bread and vegemite in my fridge for dinner that night) ah the life of the young and free! 

Fast forward 15 years… and here I am. Wiser, stronger and much more sure on my feet. I’m a mum, a wife to my best friend, a much more experienced Photographer and after having spent the last 7 years renovating with my hubby for profit I’ve just recently obtained my Diploma in Interior Design. Why the change? Well, Why not? I still love my photography. But I love interiors too – so I’m doing both. The link between the two for me is this; expressing one’s self. That’s it. Something I believe we should all be a little braver in doing.

I love to photograph entrepreneurs with a vision and want to attract their most ideal client and I’ve equally found I love to create homes and offices that attract our ideal life. Because I absolutely believe we deserve nothing less than our own ideal.

I believe our home is an extension of us. Like our physical body is a vessel for our soul, our home is a vessel for our body. I consider it our outer shell. It’s a place we can retreat as we need. It’s a place we can invite those we love to come in and celebrate life with us. It’s a place we raise our family until they are brave enough to establish their own shell. Our home is not a static being, it evolves and grows with us and our families. It’s arguably the largest financial investment we will ever make and it’s the place we spend the majority of our time and energy. For all the wild ups and downs it shares with us, I believe we need to nourish and feed it as we do our bodies. Our home supports our health, wellbeing and ultimately our happiness. So I find it curious that we can easily use it as dumping ground for our energetic baggage or our physical ‘stuff’ that may not bring us joy. I encourage you to explore really thoroughly and honestly how you treat your home, cultivate an awareness for both the physical and energetic hoarding you do – and start challenging the ‘norm’.

Moving house for me started young – we moved a lot. My mum was my earliest and greatest influence in this space. No matter how many times we moved (or she re-arranged the furniture while we were at school!) the beds were always made and there was always a bunch of fresh flowers on the table. These details with the family noise made me feel at home. Seemingly insignificant details for a child, until you find yourself creating your own home for yourself and then eventually your own children. For me personally it began about 8 years ago. When you meet someone you can imagine sharing a life with and find yourself co-habitating with someone that you truly care about and want them to be happy and thrive in your shared space (rather than a house mate that eats the last of your vegemite without notice).  We just got the hang of the two of us and shortly there after we are invaded by toy spreading, food throwing and wall smearing  bandits. They are without a doubt the absolute centre of my universe and my greatest source of joy and satisfaction – but damn they are messy. As babies, I would often wondered how such tiny, helpless beings can need so much ‘stuff’. As toddlers I often wondered how they could spread their trail of destruction so far!  I always said I wouldn’t be the mum that allowed my home to be over-run with lego and my walls a shrine to finger painting… but alas, children have a way of creeping into your tidy, ordered life – and shaking it up with a pinch of every one of your heart strings. I had to cultivate ways in which to live in harmony with the madness that came with adding children to our nest. Coexisting my virgo ways and those of my ex-military husband. This is an endless project of creativity and changes with every age and stage of our children – but so far I have not found myself to be buried in a toy box (unless it’s the kind of day you want to be buried in a pile of toys and not found – I know the mums reading this will appreciate those days!) Awareness is key here.

Then a short time later my home became something entirely different for me. When my youngest was aged 6 months I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Like an entire sack of flour dropped on a newly washed floor – my world stopped in that instant, it absolutely stopped spinning on it’s axis for me and suddenly everything in the world I thought to be true changed. I sat on the step in my bedroom for what felt like an eternity; trying to find the strength to tell my husband. My home became a place of refuge.  A place I could turn inwards. To be with those that I loved most and gear myself up in every sense of the world for the greatest challenge I had ever faced. Soon after I underwent very successful surgery to remove a large benign tumour and I found myself laying in a hospital ward craving nothing but the comforts of home. I wanted my bed. I wanted my pillow, I wanted to look out my window and see the trees move – but most of all I wanted the sounds of my family. I wanted my mum’s cooking. I craved the pitter patter of little feet, I wanted to hear the giggles (even the whinging!) that I so dearly missed. In that moment – getting home was my greatest motivator. Every bit of energy I had (and it wasn’t much at all to be fair) went towards the activities that would have the doctors agree I was ready to go home. 

I spent most of the first few months in bed sleeping. The first 6 months was a haze, I didn’t care about the mess of my children – but I noticed the smells of fresh flowers. I noticed the view from every window. I felt the presence of every amazing person in my life that came in to visit, cook for us, look after the children or just sit with me while I slept and it was incredible. Nothing could have been more healing for me than all the love that surrounded me in those months. 

Time passed and things moved on. We bought, renovated and sold another project home; but frustratingly, I found myself still needing somewhere to rest some more. We moved from Melbourne to the Noosa Hinterland to be warmer and closer to the ocean (the second most healing thing in my life) – and we have renovated our home here and built a little sanctuary that has been my 12 month life retreat. It’s been challenging – moving away from all my support networks has pushed me to my edge at times. But the growth has been undeniable. The clarity has been unquestionable – and my resilience has been surprising, even to me. 

Though our houses have changed a lot! in the last 8 years and our friends think we are insane for what we do, I’ve come to learn one thing. Home is what you make it. 

Our home is our haven. It’s a place for us to all feel safe, protected and supported. It’s a member of the family and it should change and evolve with us and what’s going on in our life.  A home can’t be decorated with all the ‘on trend’ fads and suit everyone. Your home has to be a true reflection of those living in it for functionality and beauty. For a home to attract your ideal life you have to fill it with the things you love most – for love attracts love. You have to feel what you need, explore what you feel attracted to in other spaces – but be brave enough to explore why you feel attracted to it. This is where the magic happens – this is where you create a space that is uniquely you.

So what do I do? I support my clients to explore what they are craving. I give them insights, ideas and tools to make it possible. I push them, challenge them and empower them to make their home the place they want to be; not just the space they have - but a place they really love.

I'd love to know the top 3 things you would love to feel most in your home! please share and I can share some of my insights as to how you might be able to cultivate a little more of what you crave in your space.

With loads of love and natural light ;)


SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

melanie van kuyk