Alas, one day you will very likely have to leave a house you’ve lived in for years. And when the moving truck pulls away, it will be time to say so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, and goodbye forever to a place that was so much more than four walls and a roof. This was your home, where hundreds of memories were made, and simply driving off into the sunset may not suffice.
Luckily for you, we gathered stories on how other homeowners cleverly honored their abodes when they had to bid them adieu.
Go room by room
“As a military family, we’ve moved many, many times around the country,” says Rachel Tenpenny Crawford, a grief recovery specialist. Since each home saw special milestones in their lives, Crawford developed a ritual before leaving.
Crawford’s family goes “into every room of the house and talks about our favorite memories in that space—like when my son drew all over a hallway wall in our home in North Carolina and I had to repaint it. We’ll also talk about something we wish we would have done in that room, such as put glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. Then we each say, ‘Goodbye, room,’ and move on to the next.”
Commission a painting
When Stephanie Miles and her family moved out of their Portland, OR, house last year, “it was important to say goodbye, because it was the first place my husband and I ever owned. It was also where we brought home our two sons. We couldn’t just walk away without doing something special.”
A few weeks before leaving, Miles commissioned a painting of the home she had lived in for five years from Etsy artist Shauna Mailloux.
“The painting was the first thing we put up in our new house. As my boys get older and ask about all the places they’ve lived, I’ll be able to point to the painting,” Miles says.
Put up an art installation
When Gary Sweeney sold his childhood home in Manhattan Beach, NY, in February, he had one condition for the buyer: Let him put up one final art installation as a farewell. The result: “A Manhattan Beach Memoir: 1945–2015,” which pays homage to his life there by covering the walls, both inside and out, in 100 enlarged photos his dad took of them as kids.
“My father took a million pictures of us,” Sweeney told ABC News. “The hardest part was deciding which ones would make the cut.”
People came from across the country to see this tribute before the house was torn down. While Sweeney is sad he had to move out, the project “really softens the blow.”
Gather seeds for sowing
“I’ve often found myself leaving behind gorgeous plants and fruit trees that I’ve spent years nurturing,” says Monica Rivera, an income property expert. “Repotting smaller plants or taking seeds from the fruit trees is a great way to say goodbye and take a little of your previous home with you. I have a loquat tree that I’ve regrown through three homes, and it is absolutely gorgeous.”
Do one thing there you never got to earlier
After Cheri Brennan‘s parents died, she and her three siblings agreed keeping their childhood home in Kirkland, WA, wasn’t feasible. They decided to subdivide it. Still, the siblings wanted to honor “the only home we ever knew growing up. Mom always wanted to have an authentic luau, complete with a roasted pig cooked in the ground. We decided to have that luau after all, and invited all my parents’ close friends. A good time was had by all—including a few extra laughs when the fire department came after getting a call about all the smoke.”
Get it on videotape
When Canadian Jesse Harrison immigrated to the U.S., his first home was a two-bedroom in Beverly Hills, CA. When the time came to move away, he made sure “his camcorder had the right date and just started filming everything—the bedrooms, bathrooms, living room, kitchen, and hallways. I still can’t watch it though, it’s too emotional.”