Describes our family mood perfectly.

This was my front door in 1980. Oh, how I loved that door. Oh, how I fussed to get it just right. Carefully measuring and mixing together different shades of orange and yellow for that vibrant sunburst. Our cookie-cutter house finally said “Welcome.”

In our formula suburban neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area, this bit of “radical” stood out and led neighbors to wonder what was next. Who would do this? Fear of a purple house was high on the list.

In those early years, my creative self was bursting at the seams, it seems. There was carpeting on the wall (behind the door) and an ultra plush purple shag in the spare room. There was wallpaper filled with green frogs on lily pads in the dining room. There was wall-to-wall mirrors on the ceiling in the bathroom. Seeing yourself in the tub from above was just plain weird and very trippy. What were we thinking? Oh, it was the “80’s.

Fast forward to my neighborhood now, where I’m struck by how accurately the homes reflect those inside. Kind of like a self portrait. Here’s a snapshot of what I see on my walks around the block.

♣ Her home is encased by a living bouquet of brilliant color. Flowers fill every space. This little house stands out in a block of sameness and makes me smile every time I pass. She’s an artist, friendly, and always ready for a chat.

♣ Next door to her is the opposite. Neglected yard. Grass up to my knees. Three aging vehicles in the driveway. With a face to match, his reply to my “How’re you doing?” is a grumbled “I’ve been better.”

♣ You can hardly see his house. It barely peeks through a yard filled with overgrown trees and seems to say “Don’t bother me.” He’s the bouncer at the local bar and has had it with “people” by the time he gets home in the AM. He sleeps days.

I’m often too quick to judge a book by its cover, so this matchup is mainly a game I’m playing with myself. Seeing neglected property doesn’t automatically mean they don’t care, it might mean those who live inside are ill, depressed or disabled. It might just mean they’re waiting for the landlord to get off his butt. Although, I’m pretty sure a perfectly manicured lawn–ready for tee off–means everything inside has its “rightful” place. Dirty dishes would never fill the counter like mine. And working families don’t have time for falderal. They can’t care about bushes and weeds and paint jobs when there are bills to be paid.

I’m lucky, I have the time to make my home into a cozy little nest. It’s not just a place to park ourselves at the end of the day, to eat, sleep and get ready for tomorrow. It’s a place where we love to hang out. Whenever we do get away, coming home is sometimes the best part. Diehard homebodies for sure.

I have more time now that I don’t have to drive off to work every day. But even when I was working and raising a family, there was time to paint my “Welcome home” door. As I write this and think about the boring green door I have now, painting fingers are beginning to twitch. Hmmm…

SECRET: Stand back and look at the entrance to your home. Stand across the street to really see it objectively. Sweep it, clear the clutter, and maybe hang something cheerful on the porch. Dust away cobwebs engulfing the porch light or get a new one that suits your personality better. If you use the back door when you come home, welcome yourself there. Clean up the area and hang something nearby that makes you smile when you come home. If you live in an apartment, just cleaning the front door and having a cheerful mat will make a difference in the way you feel when you enter.