Home Sweet Home

Where the Heart isThe quotes that develop around a concept are often an indication of its importance in our lives. The only concept that gathers more quotes than ‘home’ is ‘love’. However, complacency is the greatest threat to understanding. We take our homes for granted and give little thought to how complex and fundamentally important home is to our identity and wellbeing. With high home ownership, secure tenures, no loss through wars, and little through natural disasters, it is easy to forego conscious thought about the importance of ‘home’. The following quotes pepper the stories about home in Where The Heart Is – A Celebration of Home. They form an important background text for people working in residential support services.

Please send any quotes you find or coin to: nrodwell@nwrss.com.au

Home is where you can remember who left the stain on the carpet.
From the writing of John Steinbeck.

Home is where the art is.

A house is not a home without a dog.
Ping, The Around the Corner Eatery, Burnie, Tasmania

Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home.
English Proverb, circa 1300’s

Before the advent of automobiles, it was common for travellers to slice a small sliver from the lintel of their front door and carry it with them on their journey. This act ensured that they would return safely and their house would still be standing when they came home.

Happy is the house that shelters a friend.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not to be questioned.
Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes

Home is the place you can go when you’re whipped.
Muhammad Ali

The ancient Romans associated the left side with evil. Anyone entering their house with the left foot brought in evil. A slave, or “footman”, was stationed at the door to assure that everyone entered with their right foot first.

The advantage of a hotel is that it’s a refuge from home life.
George Bernard Shaw

It comes to me every day of my life that a home spirit is being awakened amongst us, that as a nation we are beginning to realize how important it is to have homes of our own, homes that we like, that we have been instrumental in building, that we will want to have belong to our children.

Gustav Stickley

Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.
Jane Austen, Emma

Comfort to me is a room that works for you and your guests. Its deep upholstered furniture. It’s also knowing that if someone pulls up a chair for a talk, the whole room doesn’t fall apart. I’m tired of contrived decorating.
Billy Baldwin from Home: A Short History of An Idea

An early American tradition that some say dates back to the Druids is to hang a young sapling tree at the highest point in a newly erected house or barn. It was traditionally done at the end of a house or barn “raising” and was intended to apologize to all the trees that were killed to build the structure and to symbolize new life.

The strands are all there; to the memory nothing is ever lost.
Eudora Welty

A home is not a mere transient shelter; its essence lies in its permanence, in it’s capacity of accretion and solidification, in its quality of representing, in all its details, the personalities of the people who live in it.
H.L. Mencken

To us, the ashes of our ancestors are sacred, and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors, and seemingly without regret.
Chief Seattle

Let the street be as wide as the height of the houses.
Leonardo Da Vinci

The fellow that owns his own home is always just coming out of a hardware store.
Frank McKinney Hubbard

An of all man’s felicities
The very subtlest one, say I,
Is when for the first time he sees
His hearthfire smoke against the sky.

Christopher Morley

Deep in most people’s hearts lurks the desire for a home of their own.
Linda Hasselstrom, Land Circle

You walk on carrying on your shoulders a glass door to some house that’s not been found. There’s no handle. You can’t insure it. Can’t put it down.
W.S. Merwin

Away from the world and its toils and its cares,
I’ve a snug little kingdom up four pair of stairs.

William Thackeray

My kitchen is a mystical place. It is a place where the sounds and the odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges into the future.
Pearl Bailey

… we shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.
Sir Winston Churchill

Nobody shoulders a rifle in defense of a boarding house.
Bret Harte

“Where is Kansas?” asked the man, with surprise. “I don’t know,” replied Dorothy sorrowfully, “but it is my home, and I’m sure it’s somewhere.”
L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz

I have three chairs in y house: one for solitude, two for friendship and three for society.
Henry David Thoreau

The house of every one is to him as to his castle and fortress, as well for his defense against injury and violence as for his repose.
Sir Edward Coke

The phrase “getting out of the wrong side of the bed” usually refers to someone having a bad day, or feeling grumpy or crotchety. This harks back to the superstition that, by going to bed on one side at night and getting up out of the other side in the morning, one formed a protective magic circle. Not to do so was bad luck.

Go home
and say prayers.


The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Home is home, be it never so homely.

In violent and chaotic times such as these, our only chance for survival lies in creating our own little islands of sanity and order, in making little havens of our homes.
Sue Kaufman, Falling Bodies

The dome of thought, the palace of the soul.
Lord Byron

Houses without personality are a series of walled enclosures with furniture standing around in them. Other houses are filled with things of little intrinsic value, even with much that is shabby and yet they have that inviting atmosphere…
Emily Post

Salt purifies, and so it was often used in house blessing ceremonies to cleanse and purify the dwelling. Salt also acts as a preservative, making it a symbol of lasting friendship. As a mark of hospitality, Arabs place salt in front of a stranger to promise their good will.

In the end, memories have much more power than décor.
Baroness Raffaello de Banfield, quoted in Architectural Digest

… to leave Coorain was almost beyond my comprehension. Each day I prepared myself for the departure by trying to engrave on my memory images that would not fade – the dogs I loved best, the horse I rode, the household cat, the shapes of trees.
Jill Kerr Conway, The Road to Coorain

I Remember

I remember,
I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn.
Thomas Hood

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

I don’t have to wait to get married to have a home: I’ll make my own. Oh, I know what that house will look like. I know the shapes and textures and colors that will fill it. Each thing in it will interest my own eye.
Alice Koller, An Unknown Woman

The ancient Romans thought that by hammering nails on their houses they could nail down or turn aside disease or ill fortune.

Peace, like charity, begins at home.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Through my college years, topping that ridge had always given me a great sense of being home, but time had diminished the emotion and I had begun to suspect that home was less a place than an empty page.
Larry McMurtry

Let us have in our houses, rooms where there shall be space to carry on the business of life freely and with pleasure.
Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, The Art of Building a Home

It is the place of renewal and of safety, where for a little while there will be no harm or attack and, while every sense is nourished, the soul rests.
May Sarton

The strength of a nation is derived from the integrity of its homes.

Three things are to be looked to in a building: that it stand on the right spot; that it be securely founded; that it be successfully executed.

The name window comes from a cluster of Anglo-Saxon words and means “wind’s eye”.

Home Sweet Home.
John Howard Payne, 1823

Home is the place to do the things you want to do. Here we eat just when we want to. Breakfast and luncheon are extremely moveable feasts. It’s terrible to allow conventional habits to gain a hold on a whole household; to eat, sleep and live by clock ticks.
Zelda Fitzgerald

Surely it’s better to live in the country, to live on a prairie by a drawing of rivers, in Iowa or Illinois or Indiana, say, than in any city, in any stinking fog of human beings, in any blooming orchard of machines. It ought to be.
William Gass

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.
George Moore

Home, the idea of home, is my principal purpose. If people have bought a house as an investment or chosen the furniture because they’ll be able to sell it for more, you can tell in two minutes. You know, our parents didn’t buy a house as an investment. They bought it as a place to bring you up, to give you roots.
Sister Parish

Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known. He takes deep breaths and the cold air goes to his brain and makes him more sensible. He starts out on the short walk to the house where people love him and will be happy to see his face.
Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegone Days

The door is the boundary between the foreign and domestic worlds in the case of an ordinary dwelling, between the profane and the sacred worlds in the case of a temple. Therefore to cross the threshold is to unite oneself with a new world.
Arnold van Gennep

America was where all my mother’s hopes lay. She had come here in 1949 after losing everything in China: her mother and father, her family home, her first husband and two daughters, twin baby girls. But she never looked back with regret. There were so many ways for things to get better.
Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

There should be at least a room or some corner where no one will find you and disturb you or notice you.
Thomas Merton

Germanic people associated the call of the cuckoo with good fortune, and that is why the cuckoo comes out of a clock to call the hours and wish prosperity day after day.

The modern idea of home has been well expressed as the place one goes from the garage.
George Wickersham

From ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!

Scottish Prayer

Home is not where you live but where they understand you.
Christian Morgenstern

One must remember that there is a difference between a house, a place of shelter, and a home, a place where all your affections are centered.
Lucy Maynard Simon, The Domestic Service, Prisoners of Poverty, 1897

The fate of the architect is the strangest of all. How often he expends his whole soul, his whole heart and passion, to produce buildings into which he himself may never enter.

Stop a clock at the hour of death or bad luck will stay in the house.

Where thou art, that, is home.
Emily Dickinson

Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
Robert Frost

The lucky horseshoe is a throwback to a time when it was thought that witches rode on broomsticks because they were afraid of horses. Nailing a horseshoe over your doorway kept witches from entering.

A house full of people is a house full of different points of view.
Maori proverb

Home is where one starts from.
T.S. Eliot

Keep the Home Fires Burning

Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning;
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining
Through the dark cloud shining;
Turn the dark cloud inside out
Till the boys come home.
Lena Guilbert Ford, 1915

East or West,
home is best.


It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it a home.
Edgar Guest

Turn up the lights.
I don’t want to go home in the dark.

O. Henry’s last words

Be thou thine own home, and in thy self dwell.
John Donne

The Fireside
If solid happiness we prize,
Within our breasts this jewel lies,
And they are fools who roam.
The world has nothing to bestow:
From our own selves our joys must flow,
And that dear hut, our home.

Nathaniel Cotton (1705-1790)

Ever wonder why it’s bad luck to open an umbrella inside a house? The pagodas built as religious temples for Buddha in India were architecturally derived from the image of pyramiding parasols. To open an umbrella inside became a symbol of disrespect to Buddha, and therefore bad luck.

What is the use of a house if you don’t have a decent planet to put it on?
Henry David Thoreau

One face to the world, another at home makes for misery.
Amy Vanderbilt, New Complete Book of Etiquette

Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris

Every radish I ever pulled up seemed to have a mortgage attached to it.
Ed Wynn, explaining why he sold his farm

Everybody’s always talking about people breaking into houses… but there are more people in the world who want to break out of houses.
Thornton Wilder

Seers started off gazing into still lakes and streams to see the future, but switched their technology when mirrors became available. Simpler people believed that the picture they saw in the mirror was a reflection of their soul. If a mirror broke, the soul was lost, and death was soon to follow. That is why we still feel uneasy seeing a mirror broken in shards.

Anywhere I hang my heart is home… it’s just the closet that keeps moving.
Wavy Gravy

So it’s home again and home again,
America for me
My heart is turning home again
And there I long to be.

Henry Van Dyke

For where else, if not in the home, can we let our imagination wander?
Witold Rybczynski, Home: A Short History of an Idea

“My God and my mother live in the West, and I will not leave them. It is a tradition of my people that we never cross the three rivers – the Grande, the San Juan, the Colorado. Nor could I leave the Chuska Mountains, I was born there. I shall remain. I have nothing to leave but my life, but I will not move.”
Manuelito of the Navahos in a speech given to Congress, 1865

When you’re safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you’re having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.
Thornton Wilder

Returning Home

I have arrived.
I am home.
In the here.
In the now.
I am solid.
I am free.
In the ultimate, I dwell.
Thich Nhat Hanh

It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, and the glory of everything.
E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

We have to stumble through so much dirt and humbug before we reach home. And we have no one to guide us. Our only guide is our homesickness.
Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

To market to market to buy a fat pig
Home again home again, jiggety-jig.

Nursery Rhyme

Crossing the threshold meant many things in the old days. To stumble in crossing foretold disaster, so always step carefully when entering a house. For example, legend has it that Tiberius Gracchus stumbled on the threshold of his home and died the same day.

Ah, what is more blessed than to put cares away, when the mind lays by its burden, and tired with labor of far travel we have come to our own home and rest on the couch we longed for? This it is which alone is worth all these toils.
Catullus, 87-54 B.C.

We must cultivate our garden.

Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished.
Chief Seattle

The attic comes from the architecture of the ancient Greeks. It was a design meant to give symmetry to buildings by adding another story decorated with columns and giving the building greater height.
Imagine yourself on a winter afternoon with a pot of tea, a book, a reading light, and two or three huge pillows to lean back against. Now make yourself comfortable. Not in some way which you can show to other people, and say how much you like it. I mean so that you really like it, for yourself.

Christopher Alexander, from Home: A Short History of an Idea

As a builder, it is particularly gratifying to build something that is needed – not just wanted. Even more pleasing is the opportunity to work with the volunteers we see every week. At the construction sites, a rhythm develops. The hammers rise and fall. The people come and go. We discover needs and the needs are met. The neighbourhood changes bit by bit and I am filled with hope. I think that’s why people are drawn here. Habitat provides hope.
Roger Rushing
Construction Supervisor

I’m beginning to understand that if community action is to be truly viable it must, at its core, be derived from a complete and true sense of home… beginning in the heart, activated throughout a household and then spreading from neighbour to neighbour, and community to community.
Hiroko Kurihara
Habitat Staff

The community process at “Habitat For Humanity” yields innumerable benefits to the individual, as people come together and work toward a common goal.
Joel T. Mackey
Executive Director, East Bay Habitat For Humanity

All my life I wanted to have my own house – my own picket fence, my own walls. I wanted a home in which my children could grow. Habitat for Humanity builds houses, and it also builds lives, families, communities and self-esteem. Home is the real thing, and Habitat helped us get one.
Kareen Hunter
Habitat Homeowner

I never lived in a “home home,” a house “home”. As a child, our family rented flats, so we always lived either under somebody or on top of somebody. With the help of Habitat for Humanity I will be the first woman in our family to own a home. And I know with the skills I’ve learned at the construction sites at which I’ve worked that I will be able to take good care of my house. I love going to work and telling my co-workers, ‘you are not going to believe this… I just wired a bedroom!’ That makes me feel really good.
Cynthia Gentry
Habitat Candidate

Home is the key to a healthy society. It’s within the walls of our houses where we begin to learn how to interact with others and how to be a part of something larger than ourselves. As we grow older, our world expands from our home to our local community. Habitat contributes to this process by working with local communities and by providing safe, well-built and affordable homes.
Lori Jensen
Habitat Staff

We’ve waited for five years for our home. It’s being built from the ground up.
I think I’ll be happy paying the mortgage and not paying someone else rent to pay someone else’s mortgage. It will be nice to have the responsibility of having our own home. Habitat For Humanity is like a dream come true.

A. Lateefah Shaheed
Habitat Homeowner