3 Ways to Make Your House Feel Like Home

Very soon, Kate & I plan to start sharing our home stories (& tours) with you. We’ll give you the first sneak peak at what bliss looks like in our real homes. Until then, it’s time to ponder your own journey.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who have landed right smack dab in the middle of your dream house, but even if your house checks off all your “must have” boxes, it’s up to you as the resident to breath life into it. And, if like most people, there was some “settling” going on in your house commitment, don’t despair! It just means you get to be a little more creative in this “home making” process.

So … let’s get started. Whether you’ve been settled for 3 months or 30 years, there’s always room to bring more bliss into your real home.

Embrace typography! Everyone can benefit from a well-placed friendly reminder like the one printed on this tray.

#1: Make Coming Home Something Special

I really think curb appeal is so important, and not just for real estate listings! Ideally, walking up to your front door, should feel good. (And frankly, the same goes for whatever door you regularly enter!) So, when you can, spend some time and money making your entrance look lovely. Repaint your front door, invest in house numbers that you love, or simply put a blooming pot of your favorite flowers out front!

Blooming flowers are the simplest way to extend a cheerful greeting.

Now, time and money can sometimes be scarce, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to enjoy coming home.

Symbolism and/or ritual can be an important part of the coming home process. Some regions take to naming their homes, and I must say I just love this tradition. When I lived in Denmark as a foreign exchange student, the name of my family’s home was proudly printed over the front entrance. To me that made the home as special and exotic as the thatched roof that covered it! When my own family got to our current home, I tried to christen our house, and asked my four year old to help name the home. She choose “Bluebird” for our little blue house, and I thought that was lovely, since bluebirds symbolize happiness. Now, for us, the name never stuck (probably because we soon after painted the house a greenish/grey color) but I did end up with a sweet little collection of ceramic birds for our front porch!

Which brings us to another way to mark your comings and goings: adopt a house mascot. Perch something whimsical outside your front door to greet you when you arrive. Hopefully it will remind you to smile. At our house, there is a small clay armadillo that was left in the front garden from the previous homeowners. I’m sure one of their four children planted it there, and I always felt it deserved to stay! If you want to induce peace over humor, consider a bubbling fountain or beautiful sculpture, and try to get in the habit of pausing for an extra breath or two before you enter your sanctuary.

This battered little armadillo has been guarding the front door of our home long before we lived here!

#2 Let Your House Tell Your Story

Every house has a story to tell. Problem is, houses change hands, and sometimes it takes a house a little while to “catch up” to the people whom it shelters. Think about a home staged for selling. Beside being well-decorated to look lovely and spacious, the idea behind staging a home is to erase the story of the previous owner so that a potential buyer can imagine their own story unfolding there. I get it; I do. But oh, how sad! So please, once a house is your own, unleash your own story within it!

Every home has a story to tell, if you take the time to read it.

Who do you love? What do you value? Where have you been? Why do you work? Think about what is present in your home to answer these questions. Photographs, of course. Travel souvenirs, children’s artwork, family heirlooms, diplomas, awards, books, art. You can find lovely ways to display any of these items. The important thing is that you bring in things that are important … to you. These “things” can share your story with visitors and remind you of all your former and current selves.

A friendly restaurant owner in Costa Rica wove these grasshoppers for my children. “Fred’s Place” is part of their story.

How do you do this? Well, it depends on who you are and how you like to communicate. Your story may shout at visitors from every wall and table top, but it doesn’t need to. Maybe your story is only evident to those who take the time to sit down, look around a bit, and ask questions, or maybe it’s symbolically hidden just for you. Any way is fine. It just depends on your style and what you want to say to the world.

It’s also perfectly logical that your story will take time to unfold within your house. So be patient. When decorating, don’t expect to “finish” a room. Instead, consider the rooms in your house as places that keep evolving, just like the people inhabiting them.

#3 Create One Space that Is Special to You

Sure, ideally you’ll love every nook and cranny in your house, but realistically, start with just one.

Find one place, and style it in your favorite style or your favorite color, or fill it with your favorite things. Do this even if it doesn’t “match” the rest of the house, or suit your partner’s tastes, or meet all your “kid-friendly” decorating criteria. This might be just the place to display some of those items that help tell your story, or you might keep it clean and serene like the mind state you hope to someday achieve!

My very own private bookcase … a book lover’s dream!

The point is to have somewhere that feels special to you, where you can feel some sense of control and some sense of privacy when you need it. It may be an entire room, but it could be a corner with a chair that best (or only!) fits your frame, or a shelf filled solely with your “stuff”. In the first remodel of our home, the piece that tickled me most was the built in bookshelf I designed for our bedroom – on “my side” of the bed. (Neither my husband nor I have a proper office in our home, so for me, this was it.) I filled it with all my favorite books, and some select family keepsakes and photos. All mine! All things that I love! (My husband got a built in desk on his side of the room, and I’m not sure, but hope it brings him as much pleasure!)

Of course, the open floor plans so popular today can make creating a special spot just for you challenging, both in terms of finding any privacy or varying your aesthetic. But it can be done. When my children were young and ever-present, I claimed the front porch as my sanctuary. I felt a little more decorating freedom there, plus, when desperate, I could just crack open the front windows and sneak outside for a little escape, while still manning the house! I still love to sit there for morning coffee, with good company or a good book!

For you, a special place could be a purple-painted bathroom in an otherwise neutral house. Or, maybe it simply means putting a fabulouse, floral reading chair in a corner of your family’s otherwise leather-bound living room – even if you only get a chance to sit there to enjoy it once every other Sunday after the kids are in bed.

Filling a whole house with this much color & pattern would hurt my eyes, but having one special piece that speaks to you — absolute bliss!

If you love it, it can work! If you love it, it can bring you bliss!

Please join our conversation. What’s special to you about your home? Can you find the bliss within it?

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