As a designer and interior decorator, something I think about often is how a house becomes a home.
A house can be any basic unit of dwelling, whether it’s a mobile home, an apartment, a boat, a super modern glass box, a castle or anything else people live in.
The form of the house never matters as much as what goes on inside your home. It’s the people who live there and the special things you do together, what you share, that has the power to transform any space into a home.
It’s not the expensive furniture or the artwork on the walls. It’s not how you arrange your bookshelves or your kitchen cupboards. It’s not the bedding or the rugs either.
How people choose to decorate their homes is as unique as the snowflakes that fall from the sky and people around the world decorate differently. For some, family-made textiles are the focal point. For others, it’s a collection of artwork or rare books. Others prefer bold colours over pastels. Traditional, minimalistic, contemporary – there are all kinds of choices.
The stage and needs of a family also factor into how our homes are arranged. A family with young children and pets running around will have a different setup than a couple of Empty-Nesters.
More than just a structure to protect us from the elements, our homes tell a story. How they’re set up helps our guests feel welcome. What’s showcased in our home also lets our guests come to know us. Our home reflects our interests and conveys a strong message about what’s most important to us.
There are a few common elements to help you on your quest for creating a home that you absolutely love the moment you walk through the door.
Here are my best 5 Key Elements to turn your house into a home:
One of the first things anyone can do to make a house feel more like a home is to introduce textiles in a room. Floor coverings like carpets and rugs are a common first step because they bring warmth to a room, provide sound insulation. Move into an empty house and your footsteps echo, everything feels desolate and until you add rugs and furniture, the space feels cold and uninviting.
A good place to start is to find ways to introduce textiles that mean something to you. That may mean a heirloom rug from your grandmother’s house or making something of your own, wall to wall carpeting or finding that perfect area rug at a store or market. Adding something to the room that both absorbs sound, has special meaning, and looks good to you is a great way to make a room feel special.
Lighting has a very important job to do. Yes, it allows us to see, but it also creates atmosphere. It can make us feel warm and comfortable.
Changing out the pre-existing lighting in any space is a very simple way to have a dramatic transformation. It will immediately make a room feel homier for a few reasons: it allows you to add a personal touch, like a favorite lamp, and it allows you to determine where and how light works in your room.
Houses and apartment units are often constructed with the simplest lighting available such as a single overhead bulb or extra-bright fluorescent lighting. While the cost-effectiveness of these choices is understandable, having softer lighting at a lower height in the room makes a room feel cozy.
Remove existing overhead lighting (but be sure to save it to re-install when you move out) and replace it with beautiful lights you adore instead. Even inexpensive IKEA chandeliers with soft white bulbs will make a huge difference.
Tabletop lamps that direct light into all the corners of the room or corner lamps create separate areas for reading, eating and relaxing.
Lighting is the simplest and most cost effective way to create the space you love. Thrift stores and flea markets always have beautiful, inexpensive options. If you enjoy simple DIY projects, lamps can be quickly updated and freshened up with a new coat of paint or a fun new shade.
If you’re looking for how to make a quick and inexpensive difference in your home, consider swapping out the lighting for something softer and warmer.
3. Storage & Decluttering
Another simple way to help your house feel like a home has to do with functionality. While many design and decorating decisions are based on aesthetics, it’s important to address basic necessities like storage.
This one invaluable decluttering trick will allow you to spend less time straightening and cleaning and more on displaying things you use and love.
Well-organized shelves can showcase collections – even better if shelving units have cupboards that blend seamlessly, giving everything a concealed place to live. Storage containers like fauxdenzas provide extra seating too.
Your home storage solutions should primarily give everything a place of its own and it’s a simple way to create a room that feels beautiful.
Artwork is often a step that seems ‘too expensive’ or even frivolous.
Even ancient people decorated the walls of their cave dwellings with what was meaningful to them. From found objects in nature like collections of shells and pinecones, photos, personal creations and family heirlooms, art can be anything and everything you want it to be.
Mostly though, what you choose to display adds an element to your home that makes it feel unique to you, your interests and what you find beautiful. Artwork that’s special to you will add meaning to your personal space and showcase your personality and flair.
If you’re looking to make your rooms come to life, make a list of what you love and want to see every day. Your list could include a collection of books you’d like to display creatively, a family portrait, a branch you found in your yard that you made into a beloved sculpture.
Whatever it is that lights you up or brings you joy – bring more of that into your living space. Give these items a special spot in your home – on a display table, dedicate a shelf in the bookshelf to it, mount it to the wall or house it in a display case or shadowbox. This unique artwork, and respectful showcase will give people who visit an instant sense of what you find beautiful.
5. The Devil’s in the (Hardware) Details
The hardware that comes with your cabinetry and furniture is a perfect place to add personality. Mass-produced and without any relationship to the piece itself, these are areas that are just asking to be changed and customized in a way that makes the object itself feel more personal to you.
Unlike custom surfaces in a home, which are expensive and time-consuming, customizing small details like hardware is a simple and inexpensive way to make your house feel more like a home.
Options are endless and only your own creativity limits you. Whether you paint your dresser handles a new color, use faux gold-leaf on your lamp bases, refinish your chair-backs in a luxurious fabric you found on sale, or add colourful paint details to the banisters or chair legs, adding small, personal touches in places that are unexpected makes a noticeable and lasting impression.
Of course, there’s never anything wrong with keeping existing hardware or furniture materials, but if you have the inclination and interest to make something unique to you, door handles and knobs, pulls and light switches are great starting points.
Just about any small aspect of your home can be personalized with a little bit of paint, fabric or other inexpensive materials along with your own initiative and creativity. Customizing small details will cost very little in terms of time and materials and make a huge impact on the overall feel of your home.
Of course, if you’d like some guidance discussing how you’d like to customize your house to make it feel like a home, then I’d love to chat. Contact me today for your ‘Create Your Sanctuary’ Free Consultation. We’ll discuss your project, your budget and solutions that feel right for you.
All the best,