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What Home Means: Home After Loss

Carmeon Hamilton, the star of HGTV’s Reno My Rental, opens up about honoring her late husband and the home they lovingly created together.

carmeon placing flowers on dining table

I am not what you’d call a ponderer. When I know something, I know it. Like how I knew within days of meeting Marcus, when we were just students at the University of Central Arkansas, that we had a future together. We talked for hours while I braided his hair. In that short time, I grew less entranced with his beautiful eyes, deep voice, and football-player physique and more impressed with his profound intelligence and ability to cut through any hint of BS without hesitation.

Three weeks later, when my mom stopped by campus to visit, I flat-out told her, “I’m going to marry this man.” And I did exactly that. I had a similar instinct the first time we pulled up to our house in Memphis. After touring 20-plus other homes, I just knew this was the place we’d put down roots and raise our son.

After living in an apartment for almost five years, we were more than ready to spread out. Marcus was committed to daily scrolls on Zillow and using his background in finance to figure out all of our mortgage details. I, on the other hand, made my list of requirements to help narrow down any contenders he found: a house that was filled with light, as close to mid-century as possible, and in original condition. I knew I didn’t want someone else’s renovation. This home was all of that. As the three of us walked from room to room on our tour, I could already envision how we would make it ours. We put in an offer that day, and the keys were ours a few weeks later.

Every single room in the house had been painted the most terrible shade of baby blue. So, over the past six years of it being ours, I have gone room by room and repainted it to match our more modern style. I painted our living room black to give it that moody theater effect for family movie nights spent bingeing Marvel blockbusters. I also customized a neon sign in my late mother’s handwriting that reads here for you. It’s a promise from one of her last notes to me, and it hangs above Davin’s bed in memory of her.

I updated our wet bar and found a love for mixology, which birthed a ritual of making new cocktail recipes for Marcus and me to try at the end of the day. Project after project, our house started to look more and more like our home… like us.

black bookshelves and home bar installation
The home is filled with black accents—Carmeon’s favorite color.

I had wrapped production of my show; Davin had just started seventh grade; and we were finalizing plans for our 10-year anniversary when we faced a dreadful day. On August 28, 2021, I received the most devastating news of my life: Marcus was heading home on his motorcycle when he was hit by an intoxicated driver. He died from his injuries.

The person I loved with my entire being for 15 years was gone. I felt a kind of pain that I can’t put into words. Suddenly, I was missing a major part of myself, our family, and our home. It was an empty space that grew bigger with every second that passed.

mother and son laughing during school at family countertop
While Davin’s school was still remote, he’d join class virtually from a countertop in the kitchen.

Davin and I survived with the incredible support of our family, friends, and loving community. But even with that support, counseling, and positive affirmations, grief is a difficult journey, and it’s messy AF.

This home that Marcus and I put together became my refuge. It is here that I can grieve and fully feel whatever I am feeling that day—whether it is being grateful for the 15 incredible years I had with my husband or feeling pissed that I won’t have another 15 years.

green, white, and black bedroom with graphic accents and plants

When people hear about Marcus’s death, they ask whether Davin and I are going to move—out of our home or even out of the city we live in. The answer is absolutely not. Before Marcus died, we had a conversation about keeping this home in our family and passing it on to Davin. So that’s exactly what I am going to do.

What I will not do: make it a shrine. My intention is to continue loving our home and making new memories, all while honoring Marcus in the space we created. I want anyone who comes into our home to feel our love for him.

Elements that were once part of Marcus’s home office/sneaker room now live in Davin’s room—like a picture Davin drew at school of the two of them, and a vintage velvet painting of the Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier fight, which had been important to Marcus because it came from his grandmother’s home. I’ve made it my mission to ensure that Davin has beautiful visual reminders of his dad.

black and white room with fine art and plants

After going through this loss, I appreciate our home more than ever. And yet I’m not afraid to change it. It won’t always look the way it did when Marcus was here. I’m giving it the space to evolve—just like I am giving that grace to myself.

hamilton family portrait

Family Love: The Power of Three

The mural in the top photo? Carmeon hand-painted the mud cloth–like design herself. She purposely incorporated strokes in her favorite number: three, for the three of them—Marcus, Davin, and herself. If you like the design, you’re in luck! Carmeon teamed up with Spoonflower to design wallpaper in a similar print. Her Triad Wallpaper (starting at $29) is available in a peel-and-stick woven style.

As told to Sarah Z. Wexler | Photographs by Emily Dorio

This article originally appeared in the Holiday 2022 issue of Drew + Jonathan Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s home and lifestyle magazine.

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