Some of us cannot fathom living anywhere other than where we always have. On the other end of the spectrum are those who move once a year or so and are experts at packing, moving and re-settling. For the rest in the middle, it can be a bit daunting facing a new house with empty rooms (well, empty except for boxes…everywhere). Or perhaps some are setting up a new household for the first time and have no idea where to start.
Personally, I hate the chaos of moving, but I LOVE the excitement and fresh start. A blank slate teems with possibilities. That love also carries over into occasionally refreshing my existing rooms, because the physical space has a great impact on home life and health.
For those in the middle or starting out, here are a few tips to help you with the practical side of making a house a home.
Set up one space as a haven. This is for just after a move. Everything is in a state of upheaval. You can only take that so long. The rest your soul, mind and body need to keep going can be helped by taking some time to create one comfortable space. When I was single, this was usually my bedroom; in a family situation, that is often the kitchen out of necessity and for maximum impact. Unpack what is needed there. Set it up approximately how you would like it — at least enough to look nice — and then remove all vestiges of a recent move. When you walk into the room, you should be able to briefly forget the mess everywhere else in the house and just live.
Get things on the walls to make it feel homey. As soon as you can after moving, put pictures or art on the walls. You will feel warm and comfortable when your beautiful items are visible. You will feel like you belong when your favorite family pictures surround you. It doesn’t take long, but you will notice the difference quickly. Don’t worry too much about location; pick a pleasant, reasonable spot and put it up. You can always rearrange when everything is settled and you fine-tune your rooms.
Color coordination pays off. Whether you are moving or just refreshing your home, colors are key. Not all of us have an artist’s eye, but there are other options. Hardware stores, magazines, IKEA stores and Pinterest all have plenty of ideas that you can straight-up copy if you like.
As a bare minimum, you can use neutrals as a base, and then get help with arranging furniture and accents in each room. This is a good option for budget restrictions and for those who like more frequent change. A neutral wall can be touched up for many years, saving on paint expense, and still look like a new room every so often with just a few changes. Asking for help could mean a professional, but this also could be an opportunity to team with a friend or build a relationship with an acquaintance or neighbor.
Comfortable seating and spaces are a must. When you move into a new house, rooms can tend to feel more like a storage unit than a home. Quickly making at least a few seats (that aren’t piles of boxes) available will start nudging the needle closer to “home” on the dial.
Past move-in time, this is still true. Your home is not a museum; you live in it. Remember to allow for comfortable seating in each of your room arrangements. This ranges from a side chair in the guest room, to a dining room table everyone loves to linger around, to a counter stool or kitchen table that makes it easy for the kitchen to be the heart of the home. The living room especially needs to be welcoming in its comfort. This are all good opportunities to encourage conversation and relationship in your home.
Not all of us are gifted interior designers, but little things like these make a big difference. We all can have that impact out of love for our families, friends, church and neighbors.