BetterBuilt Blog Contest: What Makes a House a Home?

Welcome to DC Habitat’s first blog contest! The theme for the blog is: “What makes a house a home?” We all have one, but there are certain elements that really make it special to us. What are they for you? You have until April 15th to subscribe to out blog and submit your responses below in the comment box. Winners  will be announced on our blog by Friday, April 20, at which time the winning entries will be re-posted on the main page. The 1st place winner will receive a $500 US Airways gift card, and the 2nd place winner will receive a $50 Lowe’s gift card. Now before you start typing, let’s go over some rules first:

1) Subscribe to the blog.

2) You must submit your entry in the comment box below.

3) One entry per person.

4) Entry must be submitted by 11:59pm on Sunday, April 15th.

5) Include your name and email address at the bottom of your post. (Don’t worry, we will remove your email address from the post before allowing it to go public.)

You are free to begin, have some fun with it!


DC Habitat believes that everyone deserves a house they want to call home. That's why we work to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness in the nation's capital by building (and rehabilitating) affordable, energy- and resource-efficient homes for people in need.

  • melinda g

    I think the items we acquire from family members who have passed on help make our home. They are prominent reminders of what truly matters, not stuff but family and your time with them.

  • Katherine C

    Sure, you need walls and windows and floors and doors to make a house. But the structure itself doesn’t necessarily make a home. A home is defined more by the environment you find within the walls. Is it one of a family whose members love and support one another? Is it one filled with objects that represent the passions and experiences of those who live there?

    To me, home is something that is felt more than it is something you can touch. It’s the place you feel most comfortable being you – and if you’re lucky, it’s a place you share with those who love you.

  • Danielle G

    Memories make a house a home. From the moment you step through a new place’s doorway, you begin building a bank of experiences, relationships, and routines all tied to those four walls. Remembering the first meal you attempted to cook in the tiny kitchen or the number of times you’ve hit your head on the low hallway ceiling give you ownership over the rooms and furniture that make up your living space. The visitors that stayed on the futon and left behind books for you to borrow, the packages you eagerly awaited arriving at the front door – these are the moments that weave together a sense of permanence, no matter how brief your stay might end up being.

  • Kevin Kronemberg

    A home is where you can take your shoes off, let your hair down, lay on the couch and do nothing. Is your personal sanctuary to escape from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Home is where you raise your family and give them place they can always come back to.

  • In many ways, of course, what makes a house a home is the people inside it. A home is a place to be surrounded by the comfort and warmth of family and friends.

    But maybe because this question is being asked by Habitat for Humanity, I can’t help but think about what it means to own your own home. For me, my home is all about permanence.

    When I was growing up, we moved a lot. There were some really great things about this: my family was incredibly close, and I got to see the country. But there were bad things, too. In one period of particular upheaval, I went to five different schools in four years. More than anything, I wanted to go somewhere and stay there. Just stay there. Paint the walls. Know the neighbors.

    From that perspective, it’s not at all surprising that one of our first priorities when we got married was buying a house. I was ready to put down roots, both literally and figuratively. When you plant bulbs in the fall, it’s because you plan to be around in the spring to see the flowers.

    That is what a home means to me. It’s a place you invest in, because you’re planning to stick around for a lifetime of bar-b-ques and Thanksgiving dinners. It’s neighbors you know and pets that greet you at the door. It’s a place you take care of — and that takes care of you.

  • Laura Temple

    My favorite 20 minutes of the week is Saturday afternoon when my house is finally clean, my husband and four-year-old boy are on their way home and I can sit for a few minutes, appreciating my freshly-vacuumed house with everything in its place and fresh flowers on the dining table, taking comfort in the knowledge that this is OUR home.

    The minute my family walks in, the cleanliness and calm begin to evaporate, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Home is chaotic. Home is often messy, like a toy store blew up in the living room. Home is a noisy child in a superhero cape jumping from couch to chair fighting villains. Home is a neighbor crossing the street to have a cold drink sitting in a lawn chair in the driveway while our children play in the cul de sac. Home is having a regular place to put up the Christmas tree every year. Home is participating in neighborhood holiday traditions like sharing the tall ladder to put up the outside lights, group trick-or-treating, and block party cook-outs.

    More than anything to me, “home” means a safe, comfortable place for my family to live and love and appreciate what we have in life and in each other.

  • Luke J. Lindberg

    The age-old adage “A home is where the heart is” represents the truest meaning of what makes a house a home. Any house is a place where you can put your belongings, kick off your shoes, get away from the world, host friends, sleep, eat, relax, and even worry yourself to sleep. But none of those things make it a home.

    Homes have an emotional connection to us. We do more than sleep there, we abide in our homes. Even when we are elsewhere in the world, or haven’t been home in a while, they remain the keepers of our hearts. Our thoughts drift back to our homes and often, they fill our daydreams. For some, this connection is nurtured for years filled with fond memories, loving family, and great meals. For others, it comes through the feeling of accomplishment as you pour “sweat equity” into the building’s literal foundation.

    What it all comes down to is that defining a home is not the important question. The question we should be asking at DC Habitat is “How can we relocate your heart into this building, in this community, in this Nation’s Capitol?”

  • Eric Walthall

    The previous posters have eloquently covered many of the main intangible reasons of ‘what makes a house a home’ and my idea of a home is summed up as follows, there is a difference between having a home and having ownership of a home. This is why I love Habitat for Humanity’s policy of having their home buyers putting sweat equity into their new homes. When you physical and mental labor into your home (i.e. painting, landscaping, decorating, repairs, etc.), it gives you the type of ownership that you would never get from more temporary housing. When I think back about my fondest moments in my home, they are making small repairs or upgrades, working in the yard and decorating it just right. Along with Habitat for Humanity, I look forward to giving others that same experience in the future.

  • Loretta Thompson

    If home is where the heart is, then what makes a house a home are all those things that fill your heart. Family and friends and being able to come together in that space. Having a place to share time with your children and watching them grow with their friends. A home is where you can express yourself creatively and functionally, showcasing your interests and creating useful spaces and celebrating occasions. A house becomes a home as it begins to represent who you are, not just by the things and people in it, but by the care and love that encompass it.

  • Amanda Weiss

    What makes a house a home?
    I think what makes a house a home is the feeling of being safe while in a house- a place a person knows they can eat, sleep, and play in. The people in the house brings joy and life to the house maybe at times loudness and craziness but thats what makes it worthwhile.
    The best part about being in a house that you own is being able to decorate it and make it your own- the way you make it into a home is what makes a house special.

  • Christina

    What exactly makes a house a home? It’s not the amount of televisions one has, or the name brand recliner that sits in the living room, or even the shag carpeting that’s been nailed to the floor since the seventies. What makes a house a home are the feelings, the smells, and the memories that one relates to being in a place so comforting they call it a home. As a child, I grew up in one home. We lived in this home until I was 18 years old. It was such a large part of me and every memory I’ve ever had of a home was here. I can remember coming back from school in September; my mom would have the windows open, flowers on the table, the wind blowing the curtains; My mom sitting on the front porch ready to greet me with a smile on her face. Or at Christmas time: the first night we put up our tree. With the fresh pine in the air, the warm smell of cinnamon, the dusty smell of ornaments that have been in the attic all year, and the brisk smell of the winter’s night. Or the first thunder storm of the summer. I can remember watching the sky getting dark, the leaves turning up, and the smell of the cold rain on the hot pavement after taking refuge on the front porch. My home is where all of these memories happened. Being in a place where I felt so comfortable, relaxed, happy and loved is something that my 22-year-old self cherishes. These are the smells and feelings of my home that my memory will keep forever. We have since moved out of this home and it is still the only residence that I consider my “home.” You can live somewhere your entire life and never really feel like its home. The feeling of utter comfort and happiness that comes with a home is due to the people, the memories, and the experiences that come with it. The sheer love that exudes through the rooftop, being in a place that is yours, where you can relax around the people you cherish, and make memories that last a lifetime, is what makes a house a home.

  • Justin Dunn

    A house is typically valued by its size, how organized it is, its fine sense of aesthetic. A home, on the other hand, is defined by its messes. I don’t recall the type of baseboard trim in my childhood home, nor the square footage, but I remember with absolute clarity tracking in mud after glorious days playing outside in the rain; spraying soap bubbles all over the kitchen when my mom left me alone with the dishes; taking turns chasing and being chased by the dog, leaving untold scrapes and scuff marks on the floors and walls. It is these beautiful imperfections, earned after using a house as it was truly meant to be used, to LIVE, that define a house as a home.