Creating another Home * by Laura


Hello, Moksi readers! It is wonderful to be here again.

Today I am answering some of Maureen's questions about living in a rental house in a foreign country. 

Maureen: Did you move everything with you from the USA to England? 

Laura: We brought everything with us because we were not sure how long we would be abroad or where we would relocate to next. Our furnishings, artwork, and knickknacks make each house feel familiar and cozy even though location, views, house layout, and neighbors change with each move. Many of our things have a story or memory attached, so I have no regrets about bringing everything with us although it is a bit of a hassle.

As the kids get older, they have fewer toys. With each relocation, we purge a little more. And in this digital age, we have laptops, e-books, downloaded films, music, and photos. So we are fortunate that we are living in an era when so much of our 'stuff' is downsizing anyway. Moving gets easier each time.

Maureen: How did you cope with the domestic side of moving? 

Laura: I'm a big list maker - I have notebooks for different lists (the designs on the notebooks make me happy). Having seen so many different types of personalities make international moves, I have realized that it all gets done whether you are Type A or not. So I really try to live in the moment before a move, and not spend too much time in the future. I try to keep my stress level down for the sake of my family, and get one task done each day well in advance so I am not overwhelmed by moving day.

I'm a quick unpacker because I just want to feel settled and nest. I love to unpack my paintings and decorative pieces in one room and 'shop' for the rest of the house from my stash. I let the kids unpack their own boxes.

Maureen: Have you had decor problems in any of the rental homes? 

Laura: The washer and dryer have been the biggest adjustment. Instead of doing laundry once a week, I wash (or should wash) a little bit every day because European machines are so much smaller than American ones. I have to manually empty the water collected by the dryer, which is easy to forget.

Our previous house had a freezer that was so small, only an ice tray fit in it. Needless to say, we never had a frozen pizza on hand for those lazy evenings. But otherwise, we have been lucky with the neutral paint colors and curtains in our homes (or I learned to overlook them).

One advantage to living in three homes over the last five years is that we've learned what we like and dislike about each house. Having lived in so many spaces, we feel we could design the perfect house for us.

Here's a few of my favorite things about the house we rent now -

Conservatory: This room is incorporated into our kitchen area, so this is the heart of the home. It is the lightest area of the house and gets full use every day. We eat, read, draw, dance, sing, play games, and do homework in this room. Other than our dreamy semi-rural location, we chose this house because of the conservatory.

Rangemaster Cooker: I love the look of the four little doors on this oven, each compartment with a purpose. Besides good looks, the gas stove is the best one I've used, ever.

Heated towel rack: Seen as a luxury item in the US, a heated towel rack actually is quite common in many northern European homes. As the sole heater in our bathroom, its dual function to warm the room and a towel is quite functional and scrumptious.

Sunset view: I've realized how important it is that our house is placed where I can see the sunset from our backyard at the end of the day. This is one of my favorite things EVER - hanging out with my crew in the garden as the sun goes down with birdsong in the background.

Maureen: Since you moved to England, has your style changed? 

Laura: To me, America is visually loud, whereas England is visually quiet. Few billboards, no bumper stickers. Similarly, English decor tends to be visually quiet with color themes that are easy on the eyes. Generally speaking, whites, greys and browns are commonly used. This is a change from my American house that had a red dining room that I loved at the time. I'm a bit anti-red at the moment.

My dream house right now would look very English - lots of natural light with white walls, old wooden floors, and ancient beams on a white ceiling and around windows. Add a fanatically old front door, a 'snug' to read in, a great fireplace, an English garden, and an area to keep chickens. Ooh, heavenly. In fact, we almost rented a 17th Century farmhouse that had many of these features - it was so incredibly lovely but not practical from a commuting standpoint.

Maureen: When you move back, how will your decor style be affected? 

My decor style has always been a bit Anthropologie-esque, but now I like to add shabby-chic and market style to the mix.  I continue to slowly add vintage finds to my collection. I love the hunt and the feeling of a good deal. Buying something from the Victorian era is easy to find, affordable, and no big deal around here - that still blows my mind.

I have learned how to use chalk paint since living here, and perhaps re-upholstery is in my future. I find decor blogs and Pinterest to be so inspiring. What I really like about good English design is how it feels - cozy, homey, 'textureful', earthy, casual, tasteful - and I'd like to hang on to that feeling as my style evolves over the years.

Thank you, Maureen, for hosting me today on your blog! It has been lovely being here!


* visit Laura at her blog: Travel with Lulu

* all photo's by Laura

Creating another Home * by Melissa

Good morning from the Coast of Australia.

I'm sitting under a blue autumn sky at my desk, cup of tea in hand, wondering just *how much* location and lifestyledictate our home styling.

It's lovely to be back here with all the inspiring ladies Maureen has brought on board *The Moksi Home* blog...I have loved reading each and every story- nodding away in agreement with the thoughts and lives these women lead.

SO...just how much does location, and lifestyle, influence our styling and comfort decisions in our homes?

Having lived, with our family of five, in both hemispheres of the world- I have had to embrace location living and home styling on every's a learnt skill in many ways. I truly believe that our house is a wonderful balance of both our family life in the countryside, as we lived in England, and our family life here as we live it by the sea.

The true gift of living abroad, is the influence the experience has upon your self on so many, many levels. It demands and embraces change and growth and grace.

A home grows with experiences, just as a person does...and the journey of growing in a personal way, from beliefs to decorating styles is a natural bi-product of the experience of living abroad. Gathering pieces for a new home when living abroad, in an unfamiliar environment- works in an interesting way. Much of what we surround ourselves with is still based on aesthetics and what we love in the world of home fashion...but there is another level at play- that of essential decorating!

For our family- moving from a coastal life spent on the beach, in the ocean and by the harbour, to a classic country life, by another coastline on the other side of the world- meant a change in our decorating big time! We had suddenly moved from an outdoors a much more indoors dominated lifestyle. This was very new-to-us, and offered some decorating/style dilemmas to me in those first few months of country living!

For example....

In Australia, the weather and lifestyle allow you to walk almost bare foot most of the year. This keeps our beach house front door uncluttered and empty- with the door almost always open, it's a simple, clean welcoming room to our little house.

(on that note- I can promise the rest of our house is never this organised!)

In England, Wellies (gum boots/rain boots) proved to be an essential part of our attire, and therefore an essential element in our hall way, and therefore a challenge to my simple decorating ethos! Simple as this crisis was, it still demanded a new way of looking at how a house works, for a big family of five, in a different climate and country...with me, a mother whose life is totally about her family and hugely influenced by the visuals of life.

Being one who unpacks for a weekend away, when we moved across the globe, unpacking and making our house a home was of top priority to me for our family.

The small changes in lifestyle-

wellies and coats, in the hallway always at the ready for the demands of the weather....

a  mud room for wet walking gear and muddy school/sports shoes...

a fire to be lit in winter...

early 4pm afternoons of darkness in winter with three active Aussie kids...

dark winter mornings on the walk up to school...

these changes posed very new, very real decorating challenges for me - challenges I loved and have now grown from in my decorating style!

Where in our beach house I try to find a place for everything-everything away and clean simple spaces to contend with the open plan living and open front door, in England I embraced the inside, the busy indoors...the evolving rooms...I fell in love with vintage baskets for knitted hats and scarves at the front door...beautiful old hooks and ways to hang lovely coats in the hall...and big old pre-loved crates for all the essentials needed to light a roaring winter fire.

Just because these things were essential, it didn't mean they couldn't also become a design element of our home.

Back to sitting here, under a big blue Australian I look around this room that I love in our beach house- the elements of our country life are very much evident and will always remain a wonderful presence in our decorating no matter where we live. I still have vintage baskets near our front door- only they no longer hold knitted essentials or winter boots. They hold Turkish towels and sunscreen!

I feel blessed to have had my eyes opened to other ways of living, and loving, on your family through the spaces you create in your home...we like to think we live in a Coastal Farming {see here} way, which is truly a melting pot of the parts of the world we have lived in and loved.

Home is always where the heart is...with a good bit of practical decorating for the climate!

Hope you live in a melting pot of decorating inspiration, wherever you are.

Melissa xx

* - *

* visit Melissa at her blog Miss Sew and So 

* photo's by: Melissa

Creating another Home * by Tammy


‘”Where thou art - that - is Home”  -  (Emily Dickinson)

When I first came to Kuwait in December of 1994, we lived with my in-laws until we could find a place of our own. It was a bit of an adjustment since my mother-in-law didn't speak English and I was left at home with her in the beginning while everyone went off to work. Fortunately, I found a job within a month. But, since I was pregnant with our first son, I really wanted a place of our own. 5 months later we moved into an apartment just a block away in the same building where my brother-in-law and his family were living. And when my in-laws had to move because their apartment complex was being demolished, they wound up moving to the same small building. That meant of the 6 apartments, our family had 3. After 4-1/2 years of living in close proximity, I realized it was time for us to have our own space.

We've now been in our current apartment 14 years. It really was serendipity how we found this place and it was the best move we made. For many, many years, we made do with the furniture we were given by his family. But slowly, over time, we began to acquire furniture and accessories that reflected our tastes. As we began to travel, we added mementoes and photos that have added to the eclectic, homey environment.

We actually live in a Kuwaiti home that has been turned into 4 apartments. My favorite thing about living here are the two balconies where I can grow plants and where Jingles can enjoy time outdoors.

I have friends who say I should move to a bigger place but the problem is that means a huge rent increase and more likely than not, smaller rooms. That's just the way the market is now. And no one is building apartments with outdoor spaces anymore.

There have been times over the years when I have asked myself "what am I doing here?"

But the older I get, the more I realize it doesn't matter where you are in the world. What matters is that you have a safe place to lay your head and that you are surrounded by family and friends.

“Every house where love abides and friendship is a guest,

Is surely home, and home sweet home, for there the heart can rest”  - (Henry Van Dyke)

Best wishes and blessings,


* Visit Tammy at her blog T's Daily Treasures

*all photo's by Tammy

A New Journey * Meet Stacey


(photo by Lea Hartman Photography)


Hi everyone! I'm Stacey, a military spouse and a mama to two amazing boys! I am beyond thrilled that Maureen invited me to be a part of this series!

Little did I know that when I moved to the USA from Jamaica to be with my hubby (my high school sweetheart) that my life as I knew it would be changed for ever. You see, he is a soldier and that meant a nomadic lifestyle would become my new normal. In addition, I was not only embracing a military lifestyle, but also a new culture.

Putting down Roots We never really get a chance to put down roots anywhere because as soon as it feels like we are getting settled, it is time for us to move. Nonetheless, I've mastered the art of making our temporary abode feels like home wherever we are. I find this has helped me to cope with the uncertainty that comes with this lifestyle. It's comforting to have a feeling of home, no matter how temporary.

Italy - Bolzano Vicentino, the town in which we lived.

Italy had to get a subtitle all of its own because our time there totally changed my/our lives. We opted to live amongst the Italians instead of on the military base and that was the best decision ever. We were fully immersed in the culture and in no time I was making transactions in the language when I purchased furniture (which was quite a number of times) or when I visited the fisherman's stall every Wednesday to buy fresh fish. We traveled to many different parts of Europe because it was so convenient and inexpensive. We fell in love with grappa and I became addicted to tiramisu.

Transitioning back to the USA Our move back to the USA was a difficult one because we really loved Italy and didn't want to move. However, that was the nature of our lifestyle. It's seems like we are always embarking on a new journey with every new move we make.

Fast Forward to Today.

Today, we've been married for almost 15 years and although as soon as I start speaking - it's immediately apparent that I am a foreigner because of my accent - I am much more immersed into the American culture now. As for the nomadic aspect of our military lifestyle, for the first time ever, we've lived in one place for over 2 years.

In fact, we've lived here long enough that we built our current home where we are loving life with our two boys and dog, Ginger.

Thank you for allowing me to be apart of such an amazing series Maureen! Blessings and love.

 * Visit Stacey at Design Addict Mom

*photo's nr. 2-5 by Stacey

A New Journey * Meet Laura


Hi, y'all!

I'm Laura, an American mom living in England since 2010.

Thank you, Maureen, for inviting me to write for your exciting new blog. It's an honor to have my words sandwiched between so many fantastic posts. Today I'm writing about what it's like to move internationally with a family.

My husband and I lived abroad when we were single, and we always told our kids we would live in a foreign country one day. We wanted our family to see the world through a different lens. We craved more brain food, more adventure. We knew living abroad would create obstacles, challenges, and personal growth at a level we would not encounter by staying in our hometown.

Knowing that obtaining a work visa is difficult without a corporate sponsor, we were thrilled when my husband's company offered him a transfer to England. Oh, the joy of a well-placed window of opportunity!

Sharing a common language and similar culture, England was probably one of the easiest countries for us to relocate to. But it had its challenges.

We were thrust into a washing machine filled with details, decisions, and emotions.

In England we had to identify a good neighborhood with barely any information, find a rental house within a two day visit, and weed through countless school choices via the internet. These decisions are typically made with deep consideration and friendly advice. Yet we had no one to lean on with local knowledge and not a lot of time to decide.

We signed a lease containing unusual English legal jargon we were unaccustomed to, and we bought a car we were unable to test-drive in advance (because we weren't insured locally yet). But ultimately we made all the right decisions.

And multiple times since, I've found these things tend to work themselves out. Every. Single. Time.

So after a whale of a 'We're Moving' sale, all our house contents were packed into a sea-worthy container on a semi-truck. We had no idea how many months later we would see our stuff on the other side (if at all!).

I loaded that container with about a year's supply of toilet paper, paper towels, sandwich bags, tin foil, toothbrushes, Band-Aids - I wasn't sure how easily I'd be able to find those things here - we are still going through our last rolls of tin foil. I didn't want to attract rats to our container so food, spices, rice heating pads, and even lavender sachets were left behind.

Due to the difference in voltage, things such as light bulbs, kitchen appliances, and most electronics didn't move with us either. Important documents and scrapbooks were placed in hand luggage, as were candles so they wouldn't melt in our sea container traveling mid-summer.

We also transported our dog to England by air. Although there is no longer an animal quarantine in the UK, a 'process' had to get started 6 months before departure with international micro chipping, exams, vaccinations, and lots of paperwork.

Most of our family and friends were excited for us. A few thought we were just crazy. We knew we'd be back to visit, so no need for final goodbyes. It was a 'happy-sad' time filled with risk, uncertainty and excitement.

And then we entered the Land Of The Unknown:

How quickly would the kids settle into a new school and make friends? Would my husband be happy with his new job? Having closed my little clothing company, how would I spend my time? Would we feel safe in our new surroundings? London being one of the most expensive cities in the world, could we afford to have fun? Or even buy a coffee? And how about that left-side driving?! And their health care system?

Of course, I now hold the answer to all these questions - it's all good.

And through it all, we never questioned our decision to take the road less traveled.

For us, it has been the unforgettable, life-changing path we were hoping for and then some!


{visit Laura at Happy Homemaker UK}

*all photo's by: Laura*