We’ve lived in our current house for about 18 months now (which is bananas) and it’s the 12th house or apartment we’ve lived in since we got married nearly 15 years ago (clearly, staying put is not our strong suit).
Some of those house we’ve lived in for up to 3 years (we’ve never lived in one home for more than three years – three different times we’ve lived in a house for almost EXACTLY three years) and some of them for as little as six weeks.
But every time we move somewhere new, no matter how long we plan to be there I am VERY gung-ho about getting things settled as fast as possible.
I hate feeling like I’m living transitionally, so it’s a huge priority for me to get our house feeling like a home and a place where I like to be.
The first week of a move always is unpleasant for me when there are four things in the fridge and nothing on the walls and you can’t find 90% of your belongings.
Over the years I’ve learned some tricks for how to make a house feel like a home as quickly as possible.
Whether you have a move coming up or you’re just settling into a new place or you’ve lived somewhere a while but it doesn’t really feel like home, I hope these eight tips will help your house feel like a home!
how to make a house feel like a home
- Hang pictures quickly. I know some people fear putting holes in their wall. I am definitely not one of them; you can patch a tiny nail hole in about four seconds. Also, I almost always make Bart hang things because he’s way more of a perfectionist than I am, so things end up hanging much straighter and more evenly when he does it. So I guess tip #1 is actually “Make Bart hang pictures quickly.” When we moved into our current house, one of the first things I did was buy an additional picture frame to match my set of 8 from our old house and had Bart hang the 9 photo grid in our entryway. We might have had rose-colored shag carpet and 4 different types of linoleum on our main floor, but we had pictures on the wall and it truly made me feel so much more at home.
- Break down the boxes. A pile of boxes makes me feel like I’m living out of a suitcase. I get everything out of boxes as fast as I can (it’s harder to ignore a pile on the counter than it is an anonymous box), and then I break those boxes down and either give them away on Craigslist or store them in a closet or under a bed.
- Make your house smell good. When you move into a new place, it usually smells either like someone else or like an empty house, neither of which is what I’m going for. Sometimes, I buy a bunch of plug-ins (I really love these Unstopables Scented Oil Warmers) or I light a candle or bake some cookies or just open all the windows. Whatever your preferred method, It makes a huge difference for your house to smell nice.
- Set up the things you need to keep life running smoothly ASAP. My first priorities are getting toilet paper, basic groceries, and cleaning and laundry supplies in their regular places. If I can make dinner, run some laundry, and go to the bathroom, that makes me feel like I’m not living out of boxes. And cereal totally counts as dinner when you’re moving.
- Make your beds. I’m like a bed-making evangelist, but I can’t help it. A bed looks so much better made and it takes all of three minutes (if that). I may have boxes in every room on those first few days, but at least my beds are made. I’m also one of those people so crazy that not only do I make my bed every day, but on laundry day, when I strip the bed to wash the sheets, I STILL make the bed with the bare pillows and comforter because I can’t stand my bed looking like a mess all day while the laundry runs. I read a Nate Berkus article once that said “Everyone deserves to live beautifully.” I basically feel the same way about a bed – everyone deserves to go to bed in a nicely made bed.
- Buy some live plants. (Disclaimer that Bart would 100% disagree with this because he hates the idea of dirt inside a house, but. . . I keep buying plants). I love the look of greenery in a house and you can buy plants for just not that much money, whether at the grocery store or the garden section of Walmart or Home Depot or IKEA (I also love this succulent subscription if you need something that requires virtually zero effort). Having something alive in your house makes it feel like someone who cares lives there. I got rid of almost every one of my plants when we moved and now, less than 2 years later, I’m back up to at least 15 house plants. And I feel great about it.
- Pick one place to be a stash zone. It’s so easy to have a pile of homeless items in every room, but then the whole house feels like a disaster. I try to limit one room to be the place for things I haven’t figured out yet or haven’t found a home yet. Preferably a room or closet with a door so I can shut it and not see it ten thousand times a day.
- Invite people over. I like this for two reasons. One, it forces me to get things done, knowing that someone is going to be showing up on my doorstep (when we moved into our six-month home in North Carolina, my cousin and his wife and their daughter came to visit for a long weekend ten days after we moved into this house. You better believe that lit a fire under me to get a shower curtain up, some pictures hung, and food in the pantry). Two, nothing makes a house feel more like a home than filling it with people you care about. And those people won’t REALLY care if you don’t have pictures hanging on the wall.
What are your best tips for how to make a house feel like a home? I’d love to hear!
We're moving this week (actually tomorrow!!) so this post couldn't have more perfect timing! (Also if you have any food/cool recommendations for Houston pass them on… I trust you implicitly. 🙂
I'm a manic gardener, but can't have plants down low in the house because my cats will chew them or dig in them. So anyone in this position should look into succulents. Aloe, jade plant, haworthia, etc. I'm addicted to them now and because they can live up high on a large shelf with a window, without being watered all that frequently, they are thriving.
My husband insists on hanging pictures with anchor bolts. I'm more of a bang a nail in the wall person, but he's a math person and has to get out the level and the square and it all takes forever.
Paige Flamm says
I'm so excited to finally get into our new house and finally unpack everything! We didn't hang a single picture on the wall of our new place when we moved because we didn't think we would be here that long… 18 months later and we still haven't really unpacked anything! It's going to be so nice to finally settle in and have a homey place again!
Cami Hall says
This is spot on! Especially number one and three! We moved right after having our first baby, and we always put up pictures as one of the first things we do! Oh and turning on our sentsy to get the house smelling too is a MUST! This post made me realize what my house was missing- plants!!! Now those are on my list! What kind of pots do you put your plants in when they are in the house? Looks like I have to do some research on pinterest now!
I am so bad at this. We've been here almost a year and I've hardly hung anything in the walls. I AM so afraid of it. Then to add to the procrastination, because our house is older the walls are plaster so you can't just pound a nail into the wall, you have to use a drill. Blah.
I agree with all of these. (Even when half my belongings are currently packed for our move next month). I also fully agree that a room with a bed made just looks better – even if it is super messy. There is just something wonderful about getting into a nice smooth bed.
Little Robin says
It's true about the plants! Flowers made my home feel so much more…homely!
Man, that’s a lot of places over the years! I have not moved nearly as much as you have but I am loving these tips. I especially agree that it’s important to make your new house smell nice and make your beds – everything else can wait!
We move fairly regularly as well. I agree with ALL of your tips! Especially the smell. Sometimes just doing laundry will make the house smell like yours, too.
If moving near a holiday, decorate right away. This helps it feel homey and gives you time to decide on regular decor. My last two moves have been 2 days before Thanksgiving, we hosted, and 2 days before Christmas I had a tree stockings, a few key decor items, and baked cookies. Just took a few hours and it felt like the holidays. Having a holiday with people over and a few decorations in a house makes it feel like home.
It would be great if you could write a post about the house plants that you have. Which ones survive even if you don’t water them for ages, how you make sure that kids pitch in with caring for them etc.