Quick: What makes your house feel like home?
Did a paint color or carefully positioned artwork first come to mind? Or was it more of an esoteric stream of experiences — snuggling under a blanket watching a movie, laughing with friends over dinner, playing on the floor with the kids?
Whether you’re buying a new house or condo, or moving to a new apartment, decor is just one tool for building that comfy, cozy feeling. Here are a few — and affordable — ways to quickly move from house to home.
1. Steam Clean
No, it isn’t fun or sexy, but I believe there’s no way a house can feel like home if you’re living with someone else’s dirt. A report from the National Center for Healthy Housing states that “carpets accumulate dust and dirt in the amount of approximately 5 to 25 grams per square meter of surface area, depending on (the) type of material, foot traffic and other factors.” The “eww” factor is even worse when it’s not your own dust and dirt. Steam cleaning will remove particles — including pollen, mold spores, and pesticides — and kill bacteria and dust mites.
2. Greet Yourself
One of the most disheartening moments in a new home is when you return from work or play and an unfamiliar feeling washes over you. Dilute it by greeting yourself with comforting items, like your favorite flowers, a wreath from your previous home, or an entryway display of cherished photos.
Take advantage of the fresh perspective that comes from removing all your belongings from their old spots. You might discover that an armchair that has always graced your living room creates an ideal reading space in your new bedroom. Maybe an office cabinet perfectly fits in your new storage-challenged bathroom. Or perhaps a hallway photo collage is just the right filler for an expansive dining room wall. With all this rearranging, you’ll enjoy cherished items with fresh interest.
4. Make Space
You’re going to feel at home when you’re able to comfortably do the things you love. In a new space, that might mean thinking outside of the status quo. Repurpose a spare bedroom as a craft room, or a formal dining room as a TV lounge. If you love to prepare complex meals, use a countertop-height table to add prep space in a breakfast nook. The smell of your favorite recipes will go a long way in creating that “home sweet home” ambiance.
5. Welcome Friends and Family
It’s tempting to hold off on the invites until the design of your new home is just right, but there’s no better way to make it feel like your home than to start building memories. And hosting allows you to see exactly how your spaces function in real-life — where people tend to sit, stand and congregate — giving you a guidebook for placing seating, tables, etc.
6. Go Explore
When I moved into a home in an unfamiliar community, there was a temptation not just to nest, but to hermit. Thankfully, my dog didn’t share this desire, so off we went — walking to parks and getting lost in the neighborhood. “Home” is about a sense of security, and getting to know my surroundings and neighbors made me feel much more comfortable, indoors and out.