the end of house anxiety.
We have all been there.
We tell ourselves we're not going to invite anyone over until our house looks like the pages of whatever design magazine we snagged at the supermarket check-out. Which is precisely never. Or, until we're hosting a themed birthday party, and the cleaner has come, and everything is perfect. Then maybe we'll have guests.
It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn't be that way. Houses, it turns out, are more than just shelters. They are the best places in the world to connect with others. They’re also a reflection of who we are.
Go inside someone’s house, I realized in my early twenties living in Mississippi, and you’ll learn a lot about a person. I had just done a midnight run with friends to Graceland Too, the famed house of an Elvis fanatic. The man was an eccentric hoarder, sure, but he was also devoted, a quality that matters more.
My fondest memory though, and one that has long stayed with me, involved watching a Muslim woman pray in her home in Rotterdam. We had a mutual friend who introduced us, so I didn't know her very well, but one morning I woke up early and she invited me to watch her pray. Positioned from a corner of her bedroom, I witnessed Islamic prayers for the first time. I was 22. A college graduate—but as this experience proved, hardly worldly. Barring her prayer rug and difference in language, it was an act familiar to my Christian upbringing. Her home was the stage to connect through this sacred act, and later on through a meal she cooked for me.
We presented two very different upbringings, but her home revealed our similariaties. This is important. Have you read the news lately? Inviting people into our homes is something we need to be doing now more than ever to remind ourselves we are all human. We all just want to make home.
A few years ago, I got tired of "shelter" magazines. To be fair, I worked in the design world and whenever I'd come home my mailbox was stuffed with them. Where they excelled in highlighting design and enviable places, however, they failed at making me care about the people they represented. Herman Hesse may have written that, "one never reaches home," but nothing, as far as I knew, existed that delved into the personal histories that were the real decoration in homes around the world.
Coucou Home was born from a desire to invite people into other people's homes to connect, to eliminate prejudices, and to reveal how very similar—and yet wildly interesting—we are.
I'm often asked why "coucou" home. There are two reasons. In French, the familiar way to say hello is "coucou". But more interesting to me is the fact that Dorothy's iconic chant, "There's no place like home," doesn't exactly translate to French. Why? Because there exists no word in French to convey a "sense of home". Learning about this omission made me really think about how we express that word. What does it mean?
Philosopher Gaston Bachelard (no surprise, also French), said about where we dwell: "For our house is our corner of the world. As has often been said, it is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word. If we look at it intimately, the humblest dwelling has beauty." I assure you that he didn't mean the decoration.
When I was a child, our house was a bit of a crazy place (there were six kids!), so I decided "coucou"—which both recalled the spirit of my childhood home and is a friendly "hello" in French—fit the bill of what home meant to me: crazy and familiar, a welcoming place. I think a lot of people could say the same about their home, too. And so one day Coucou Home was born. A collection of disparate perspectives brought together by the familiar in a place that aims to celebrate the joys and struggles with making home.