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Story by Liz Aviles, VP, Market Intelligence

Background Art by José Ramos, Senior Production Artist

Several years ago, I read an essay about the Swedish word hemmablind. As an avowed fangirl of language with a particular fondness for foreign words meant to define ineffable feelings, I was intrigued to learn that it roughly translates to “home blindness.” It describes how over time we tend to adapt to our environments, and, in a sense, stop seeing them. The slightly crooked painting, the drawer that sticks, the squeaky door hinges we keep meaning to oil, and countless other minor nuisances in our homes recede from our vision. This visual and mental adaptability can also erode our ability to see the beauty in our homes. We move through them onto daily commitments, blind to the paint-chipped banister, as well as the way the afternoon light tinges everything in a certain room with gold.


But, confined during the pandemic, we quickly centered our lives around our homes. We carved out impromptu spaces for learning, working, and maintaining our sanity. Many of us, if the booming home sales are any indication, were snapped out of our hemmablind-ness. With new eyes, we focused on creating comfortable havens from the world. From major renovations and new furnishings to newfound obsessions with plants and candles (so guilty), we DIY-ed, gardened, painted, decorated, and more, all to cultivate calm and connection in home-centered ways. 


This year, my partner and I celebrated our first house-iversary in our 1910 frame bungalow on Chicago’s North side. It’s been a year of making this lovely old home our new home with our daughters and our sweet cat. Together, we’ve discovered its charms, quirks, and even some minor surprises, like the two windows that once illuminated the stairwell that a previous owner covered with drywall. We spotted those from outside on one of many neighborhood strolls. Hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered.


Most importantly, it’s been a year during which we’ve been able to safely welcome our friends and our families back to our new home. Gathering together to share a meal, celebrating new adventures and achievements, opening that extra-special bottle of wine just because we’re together and we can, proved to be some of the most meaningful moments of this year for us. 


Now when I look at our home, it is with a profound sense of appreciation for the shelter, both physical and emotional, that it has given us during such strange times. Sure, I may eventually stop seeing that chipped paint on the banister, but I hope I’ll continue to pause and admire the golden glow of afternoon light in our living room and give thanks.

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