When we moved into our first house, I all was about the aesthetics. I grew up decorating, I have a design focused career so naturally that just made sense. I wanted our house to be pretty above all else. Fast forward (almost) 8 years into marriage and while my career and love of design haven’t changed, my approach has. When we moved to this house, I still wanted a place that was pleasing to the eye, because for me, that’s home. That’s what comfortable and my normal. However, I wasn’t as eager to push function aside. We now have 2 kids, a dog and a cat, plus my husband and myself sharing a space, and living is the primary function of home.
Throughout my various stages of life (from renting to home ownership and the many places in between) these are the lessons I’ve learned and what I consider to be the best ways to make your house feel like more than just a house, but your home.
Both for you and your guests. But mainly you. You’re going to be there every single day. Make sure it’s someplace that you want to hang out. Everyone’s idea and version of comfortable is a little different, I have borderline OCD friends that can’t handle seeing a pair of shoes in the entryway, because it makes them uncomfortable, so tidy is the word for them. For others, it would be strange to walk into their room and not see a rack full of clothing in the center of their room. It’s whatever makes you comfortable in a space.
When I’m at home, I want to sink in and relax, at least in theory. I like lots of texture, softness and inviting nooks. Adding a throw or pillow to a chair might just add the right amount of extra appeal, as its begs your to come and snuggle in. Lighting and ambiance also play into this. Candles and lamps are huge in softening up a space and are more inviting than overhead lighting. I personally don’t like a space to feel sterile, I want my family and guests to feel like they could live in this space – because they do.
It has to make sense for the way you live. This relates to furniture and décor placement, how you stock your cupboards, what’s sitting on your open shelving, etc. It also pertains to the more permanent parts of the home too. We ripped out the carpet that was in front of our garage door entrance because that simply didn’t work for us. Hardwood floors or tile are great if you have pets and kids. Wood siding is not a smart chose if you live in an area highly populated by wood peckers or if you never want to paint your house again. If you don’t like to dust, don’t fill your house with dark wood cabinets or furniture because the dust WILL show. Steer away from putting furniture in pathways or narrow hallways, even if it looks cute. If it doesn’t function correctly then it’s just clutter.
Just because neutrals taking over the design world and Pottery Barn magazines doesn’t mean you should ignore your love of color. There are stylish ways to make the space still feel like YOU live there (and not some stranger from a magazine). Add personal items and things that let your personality shine. If you a bold, expressive and gregarious person, I’d be surprised to walk into your home and find it serene and neutral. You do you, regardless of the trends.
This is related to the previous point. But I find I have an attachment to certain items, if it doesn’t bring my joy then I don’t display it. I like furniture that shares a story, rather than just something cute that I found at a basic furniture store. Our bed was a wedding gift from my grandparents. Our armoire used to be my grandpa’s. Gretta’s bed was my aunt’s and she gave it to me while I was in college, now its Gretta’s. Our living room chairs were my great uncles. Our dining room table was a Craigslist find that hubby refinished and painted. I have portraits of my grandma, pictures of my girls and other personal mementos throughout our home. The pieces without a story are still nice, but they might not stick around for the long haul.
A house is merely a building. Everyone needs a place to live. But a home is where I want to watch my family grow. It’s a place for laughter and togetherness. This is where we all come together and experience what being a family is all about.