Growing up, I longed to be part of a big family. I wanted to live in a chaotic household with coming and goings and bickers and squabbles, but mostly I wanted for it to be somewhere that was filled with an overwhelming sense of love. As one of two children of parents who later divorced, I resigned myself to the fact that this wouldn't be the type of home I'd grow up in – I'd just have to look towards the day I started my own family.
Everything changed when, four years ago, I found myself with a stepdad, three stepsisters and somewhere that we all now view as a family home.
Having met my stepdad, my mum decided to purchase a project in Surrey; a house that needed complete refurbishment and renovation. Her sole intention was for it to become a home where we could all regularly visit; for the youngest two, it would be somewhere to live after university if they wanted to.
Occasions and celebrations now have far more meaning that they ever used to. There seems to be a birthday or anniversary almost every month, and all 14 of us (partners and children included) come together to celebrate. Where there was once just four of us round the table, there are now 10 or more. The chitter-chatter and laughter echo throughout the house – sounds that I grew up wishing to hear.
We've had everything from black tie parties to BBQs and Christmases together. While it's sometimes a juggling act with catering and seating when we turn up impromptu on a Sunday afternoon, it's a heart-warming feeling when I'm surrounded by this extended family I never thought I'd have. We have even started family traditions and for every special occasion, my mum, stepdad, brother, three stepsisters and I all sit in the same spots on the stairs for a photo. We've done this dressed in ball gowns and morning suits, as well as in onesies and with Christmas props, and as time has gone on and babies have been born, they've joined in the photo too.
I feel happy when I pull onto the drive and even happier when I've left. We all do.
So when, in summer 2016, my stepsister and husband-to-be requested to marry in the gardens, it felt like a symbolism of how we all view that house.
In August of this year, alongside family and friends, I watched my stepdad walk my stepsister down along a side path and through the gardens towards the altar where her husband-to-be was waiting. In that moment, I felt truly overcome with emotion. Not only was I incredibly happy to see our family grow further, but it took me back to 20 years ago when I wanted something that I never thought would happen. But it did, I now have four siblings, step or not, and a home that we all love equally.
'The home I never thought I'd have' is part of our new series, A Savills Love Story, prompted by Savills new advertising campaign.
We invite you to submit your own Savills Love Story. What made you fall for your home? Was it love at first sight or more of a slow burn? Do you have a 'type' or is your approach to house-buying more pragmatic? Or tell us about your fantasy home – the magical place you've always wanted to live, perhaps inspired by a novel or a fleeting glimpse in a magazine? We will donate £50 to YoungMinds for every story we publish on Savills UK Blog. We'll also make a donation for every story submitted for consideration.