homemaking abroad


"Your home should tell the story of who you are, 
and be a collection of what you love." - Nate Berkus

Since getting married, we have lived in 3 apartments in 3 countries in 6 years. That doesn't include the times we were without a home of our own and were living out of others homes (thank you family members who love us!) while we were in various transition times.

That means we've (by we've, I mean I've) furnished and decorated 3 different places in order for them to feel like home for however long we've stayed there. Since we've always known we would eventually live overseas, we never invested much into furniture. We either borrowed it or bought it used. When we moved to Uganda it wasn't hard to let those things go and we definitely weren't going to ship them over. 

Upon arriving in Uganda, we secured an apartment from a missionary leaving the field and bought most of her furniture in it. Again, we didn't really have the option to pick out couches or bedroom furniture. We got what we bought and in the expat community, you acquire things at a cheaper price when others are leaving the field. 

For me, it's the smaller accents that create a space of love and comfort. 

To be honest that has been the silver lining. 
That has been the thing I look forward to the most with each move we have made. 
I love getting creative and I love turning a house into a home. 

It's pretty much essential for my sanity. 

Here are a few simple & small ways to make a home in a new country:

1. Photo Collage: There isn't a thrift store where I could grab an old frame, so this one had to be built. I actually bought it off the previous owners with great joy because I knew it would be a great place to add photos of friends and family. It's also very easy to switch up whenever I want a change without putting new holes in the walls. You could even bring a smaller frame with you and use a photo or two at a time.

 2. Artwork: Get a little creative and hand make something for your home. Whether created by yourself or by local artists, art can add inspiration and colour to your walls.  While I would eventually like to add more local art pieces, I loved creating this mixed-media project, adding to it slowly over the past two years (the canvas was made by hand locally).

3. Fabric:  I hadn't really thought about until moving to Uganda where kitenge is very common and very affordable.  After looking for the right fabric to decorate our home with, I eventually found one I liked and bought all 6 yards of it. Pick out fabric for curtains, table cloth, accent pillows, rag banners or a fabric wall hanging. You could also frame a piece of fabric and put that on your wall or incorporate scraps of it into your artwork. 

4. Brought items: A few of the items I packed to take with me (if not initially with our move to Uganda but eventually on a trip back) included: candle holders, candles, various decor items (on encouragement wall), essential oils & diffuser, picture frames, stove top coffee maker, books and a favourite mug. It's comforting to have some familiar items to cozy up your new home. I brought little things that held significance or that had been displayed in our previous homes and a bought a few new things specifically for our new adventures to take with us.

5.  Unique finds: Over the past three years I have added to my collection of items I've come across here: a clay pot I painted with gold, woven baskets to display on the wall, artwork, elephant elephant carvings and paper bead decorations. All these items are reminders that Uganda is our home and the joy of being here. 
Remember, you are being transplanted and trying to make roots in an unfamiliar land.
Only with time can new roots be made. Be patient with yourself and the art of homemaking. You need time to adjust to new sights, new smells and new tastes. And time to add to your collection of lovely things to make your new home cozy. 

It most likely won't happen in a day, but there are many blessings in the midst of not feeling comfortable. New discoveries and adventures welcome you. And the process of homemaking helps you as you muddle through those first months and years. 

Homemaking is essential to living abroad and you are more than capable of doing it with whatever you've brought with you, and whatever new items you discover. 

After all, your home should tell the story of 
where you come from, 
where you are, 
and who you are becoming in the process. 

There is something completely beautiful about creating a home that others are encouraged in. For me, I want a place that not only inspires me and my small tribe, but all those who are welcomed into it.

"What I love most about my home is who I share it with." 
- Tad Carpenter


* Linking up with Velvet Ashes on the theme homemaking


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