#mywholehome| The Un-Home Tour Series with Carmel of Our Fifth House

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

How many times have you scrolled through Instagram or Pinterest and struggled with the images you see believing that the life being portrayed in those images is a far cry from what yours may look like ?

My heart behind this series is to tackle the decades-long saga of comparison and the overwhelming sense each of us feels to perform or measure up to an ideal standard of beauty and perfection—particularly in the area of our homes.

If you’re anything like me then you’ve probably struggled, more times than you’d likely want to admit, with those haunting thoughts of not measuring up to what you see out there or comparing your life to others you see as you scroll…and scroll…and scroll.

Behind those perfect little squares and snippets of reality are real people dealing with real things while living their very real lives. I’d like to take you ‘behind the curtain’ and give you all an opportunity to go even deeper with the women you follow and connect with. You’ll hear parts of their heart that you have likely never had a chance to hear before. You’ll hear the stories of their lives and, more importantly, their homes. You’ll connect with some of their fears and delight in many of their lives’ greatest triumphs.

These interviews with the women that you love, admire and are inspired by are meant to act as a collective sigh for not only each of us participating but for each one of you out there who will read this and take part in the conversation each week.

While you may not see all the mess that home brings as we walk this path alongside us, the words and sentiments shared by these girls will surely have greater impact than any picture ever could. It is my hope that you will take a moment to think about the meaning and purpose behind the spaces in your homes and the stories that have unfolded inside them. No matter where you’ve lived or how many homes you’ve had or how hard-to-embrace the narrative may be, your home is meant to be a place of belonging and retreat and restoration. As you enter this space each week, I pray the stories shared hear do just that. That they open your heart and mind up to your own life and home and the stories that continue to unfold inside each of them.

Name | Carmel Phillips 

Social Handle | @ourfifthhouse

Blog | http://www.ourfifthhouse.com

City of Residence | Charleston, South Carolina 

Number of Years in Current Home | 3.5 years


What does ‘home’ mean to you? What do you want others to feel when they enter/spend time in your home? 

Home to me means [that] you are safe to be who you are, and you are free to be known.    I want people who enter our home to feel welcome.  We have the kind of home where friends don't feel like they need to be invited over, they just come.  And I love that my husband and I open our home that way!  There's nothing better than a casual drop-in, wine on the porch and just chatting the night away!  

Tell us the story of your home. To you, what sets it apart or makes it unique aside from the fact that you and your family are the ones who live in it?

Moving to Charleston was a dream I tucked away in my heart the very first time I visited the area 18 years ago on my honeymoon.  My husband grew up vacationing here as a child because his parents owned a home on Kiawah Island, a nearby island.  He and I would talk about one day retiring in the area. And then three and half years ago while we were heading home from a spring break week in Charleston we looked at each other and said, "Why are we waiting 'til retirement?"  We decided to jump!  We put our Lexington, Kentucky home (our fifth house) on the market, and it sold 2 weeks later.  Our sixth house has been a dream come true for us.  And we've loved this home SO much.  But we're actually in the process of building our seventh house (which is very close to where we live now) because we stumbled across an open lot for sale that has a little more privacy than our current house.  Our new build should be done some time next year!  

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How would you describe your personal home style?

That's always a tough one for me to answer.  My interior style doesn't exactly fit into a box or a nice, neat category.  It, like me, is a mixture.  ;)  It's a little bit traditional, a little bit modern, color and pattern filled.  I like spaces that feel inviting and cozy.  And I gravitate towards a casual vibe that doesn't take itself too seriously. 

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Proudest DIY?   I'm pretty proud of the tile work I did in our powder room! 

How have you embraced your own story? I turned 40 a couple weeks ago, and I know it sounds totally cliche, but there really is a clarity that washes over you.  Experience has given way to feeling more confident in being the woman God's created me to be.  It's pretty amazing to not just know what God says about you, but to actually BELIEVE it. 


What is your favorite space in your home? 

Our screen porch, hands down.  Having grown up in Southern California the idea of a screen porch was relatively foreign to me, and the novelty of having one has yet to wear off.  


If you could share one thing about yourself with readers that you've perhaps never shared publicly or via social media, what would it be? 

I've shared bits and pieces of my childhood, but I've never really shared all of it.  Some of it feels shameful, or like I'm betraying those that I love.  Much of my growing up story only a handful of close friends know.  A part of the reason I keep that part of my story so closed off from social media is to protect my children.  I don't want to taint their view or relationships with their grandfather.  My dad is and was a good dad.  But he was and is a complicated person.  Our relationship is special and I love him dearly, but it hasn't always been easy.  


What was life like for you growing up in your childhood home?

I grew up with two loving parents.  My parents worked really hard to put me through private school and to give me the best start in life they possibly could.  My mom is an artist, and our home was a reflection of that.  My dad ran a commercial landscaping business, and our backyard was like an oasis.  They are each creative in their own way and that definitely had an influence on me.  

My parents got divorced when I was 13, and that 13th year of my life was transformative.  I grew up a lot that year.   And looking back now, I wouldn't change a thing.  God has a way of turning our brokenness into something really beautiful.  Much of who I am today, is because of the fire I walked through as a teenager. 

Carmel with her hubby and two kiddos.  Photography |  Sarah Grashel

Carmel with her hubby and two kiddos.

Photography | Sarah Grashel

If there was one piece of advice that you could give to others as to how to embrace their home and their story, what would that sound like?   

The best gift you can give yourself is to let yourself be known.  Truly.  You can't forge a real relationship with anyone if you hide who you are.  Let your friends in.  Let them really see you.  Share your story.  And your home.  Without the makeup and the perfectly fluffed pillows.  It'll be the best thing you do for yourself, I promise!  


Carmel is a believer: in Jesus, in the power of leopard print and in the beauty of color.  She documents her love for making home your happy place on her blog, Our Fifth House.  There she encourages readers to not only find their style but to rock it fearlessly!  



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