In 1984, my father built the first home we lived in, and the first home that he and my mother ever owned. He grew up in the home business – my grandfather, Paul W. Camp, Jr., owned an appraisal company in Rome, Georgia by his own name for nearly six decades, later retiring at the ripe age of 83. For years, my grandfather also owned a shell home business, where he would oversee a team of construction workers to build the popular shell homes of the time, allowing the homeowners to retrofit the inside as they liked.

So when my parents got married and decided to build their first home on their limited teachers’ salaries, my father and his father literally got to work and built a quaint but cute white house on the edge of Pine Ridge Drive in Cartersville with a large front porch and plenty of land to play neighborhood ball. Some of my favorite memories of my childhood were from that home, building blanket forts in the living room, sunbathing with my mother on the back porch, singing on the front porch while my brother interrupted me and climbing my “reading tree” in the backyard to read one of my many beloved books.

When I was 12, my parents built a bigger, newer and nicer home in nearby Emerson, this time with enough money to hire their own contractors. I spent my teenage years in that home and will never forget playing the piano in the front room and seeing the neighbor’s horse loose and trotting down the street, or the nervous boys at my front door to take me to dances, or the parties my parents would throw during which my brother and I would spy with glee from the railings above the living room.

Although I’m unable to visit those homes as my own anymore, they will always have a special place in my heart, as I’m sure many others would say the same of their childhood homes. Some of us are able to visit them just as they were in our memories. Some of us aren’t. But the joy of home – whether renovated or restored or created, as you’ll see in the pages of this issue – that joy is always possible, if you make it your own.

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