The house shelters

Early Morning by Moritz von Schwind (1858)
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

“If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming…the house allows one to dream in peace.”Gaston Bachelard

I saw this quote from Bachelard on a Celestial Seasonings box of Sleepytime tea. I found it charming, and at first I agreed with it.  Then I thought “Tell that to a busy mother…a house that allows one to dream in peace? Only if the kids are away at school!”  Even if everyone is gone, our homes may continue to shout or nag at us, pointing out the paper piles, the dusty surfaces, the streaked windows.

But that doesn’t mean Bachelard is wrong about houses.  The house can shelter daydreaming, if we allow it to do so.  For some of us, this will mean putting the outward appearance to order with at least a bit of tidying up.  For others of us, it will mean looking beyond the undone chores to see the beauty that always lies beneath, even if hidden.

And really, even the clutter can evoke reverie.  The craft supplies and half-finished projects bring thoughts of anticipation at sharing our creativity with others.  The dusty trinkets may bring back memories of an enchanting trip or a charming phase in a child’s life. Piles of old letters and photographs noiselessly sound the delightful din of loving voices surrounding our hearts with joy.

Most all of us agree there’s no place like home.  When singing the praises of our dwelling places, we typically cite the solace of familiarity, the comfort of one’s own bed or sofa, and the pleasant busyness of self-chosen, self-directed projects in process. But perhaps Bachelard, in his wonder-filled wisdom, has seen something we may have missed.  Maybe the sense of security that engulfs us when we return home is based, at least partly, on its being the haven for our daydreams; a safe cocoon where our hearts can bask in beautiful realities that are too fragile for the world outside.

Today, I hope you will take a few minutes to allow your home to be a sheltered place for daydreams.


  1. Sheila

    Julia, your words dance across my heart with a rhythm all their own! 💛 Maybe “home is where the heart is” would be the best expression for our cottage right now. With the remodeling never ending, tidy seems long, long ago, or far, far away! But it still calms me, even at its worse! I hope all is well with you, know you’re busy with classes. My calendar hasn’t been put back up but I’m going to look at June, knowing you’re already on the Verandah! Hugs to all, across the miles! Sheila 😘

    • Sheila, June is gorgeous as always and I’m happy that we are in an air-conditioned setting that will allow us to have a hot cuppa if we want. 😀 Isn’t it amazing how stressful remodeling can be? Plus it has a domino effect; we’ve noticed that once we get done with one thing, we notice another that needs repair or upgrade. But it’s an exciting sort of stress, especially when the results are good. And as you say, home really is where the heart is. Matt says that all the time!

  2. HarryS

    *Thanks, Marlene, for adding this term to my vocabulary!
    Can’t find the Asterix set point.

    • Harry, it’s after the word “wonder-filled.” I went back and checked to make sure I hadn’t forgotten to put the * in there. “Wonder-filled” is Marlene’s tiny upgrade of the word “wonderful.” I love it!

      • HarryS

        It is wonderful (wonder-filled) that the harder we have to search for something the more likely we are to always remember it.
        Thank you so much for this beautiful website.

        • You are welcome, Harry — we’re glad you’re here!

  3. I loved this post. I’ve been wondering about what is home for some time now. Never having a grounded spot as you know, can leave you a bit adrift in the world. As I weed out and wonder, you’ve given me another piece of the puzzle. Thank you for this. I think I missed something though. “adding this term to my vocabulary!” ? I’m a little slow this morning. Giant hugs.

    • Marlene, someone else mentioned not seeing it– it’s your wonderful word “wonder-filled” which I love!

      • Ha! Thank you. I like it too. The world is wonderfilled if you look at it a certain way. My computer kept telling me I was misspelling the word so I added it to my dictionary. 🙂 Have a joyfilled Sunday. 🙂

        • Thank you! You too. Sunny Sunday hugs.

  4. Ann

    Another wonderful quote and blog! Sitting on the back porch listening to the birds and daydreaming right now😀

    • Ann, that sounds dreamy, or maybe I should say day-dreamy! Birds make great music for daydreaming. 🙂

  5. Great post Julia!
    Home: the refuge from a disordered world, from which common sense is restored.

    • Thank you, Alan! That’s a very good way to describe it.

  6. LB

    Lovely! I’ve been home all day today, and while I haven’t day dreamed much, I’ve definitely bonded with my house (my friend Debbie’s term), and gotten so much done! Including, visiting all of my friends who blog.
    I think of you and Jeff often.
    Sending love!

    • I like Debbie’s term! I think most of us will identify with bonding. It sort of reminds me of the idea of nesting. I just love it when I have one of those productive days spent doing pleasant, much-needed household tasks. I think of you often, too, and send you love in return. ❤

  7. Good morning, Julia! I so appreciate this perspective. It makes my sewing room (which is so piled with projects that I can’t actually use the sewing machine) seem a haven of adventures just waiting for me to either re-live, or discover for the first time!
    (And to think that on Saturday I was only appreciating my mudroom as a shelter from the rain!)

    • Ah, yes, Susan– what looks like a mess to other people might look like a labyrinth of potential future fun to the one who keeps (or doesn’t keep, in the organizational sense) these precious piles of this and that. I sometimes think that my “fun” spaces are the ultimate mundane proof of the second law of thermodynamics. So I suppose we might as well enjoy it and put a positive spin on it! 🙂

  8. I love the picture, too; it reminds me a bit of the House at Pooh Corner, which is a charming place to daydream.

    • I was drawn to that painting when I came across it. I like the woman looking out the window from the soft seclusion of the home.

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