Since moving out on my own almost ten years ago, I’ve lived in seven different homes. Six of those have been rentals; our seventh is finally our very own. In those ten years and seven places, I’ve developed a few strategies for making these places feel like ours. So here are my top five ways to make a house your home.
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#1: Make a House Your Home by Hanging Pictures
This is probably the number one thing that has made each of our places feel like a home. Most of my artwork is gifts from friends—watercolour paintings from my best friend, an oil painting from my cousin, some cross-stitch pictures from another friend. My husband’s art is more religious—icons and crucifixes that remind us of our faith. His mother is also an artist who has given us several of her paintings. Plus, we have family pictures up now!
Whatever your taste in art, having pictures on the walls that remind you of happy times or beautiful places help personalize your home. We didn’t hang pictures in three of the places we lived because we knew they were transitional or short-term homes. When did hang those pictures again in the next home, I’ve realized how much I missed them—how much they add to our home.
If your landlord doesn’t like even picture holes in the walls, use Command picture hanging strips. I’ve used these in nearly all of our places and never had a problem with them. They are easy to use and come off clean.
#2: Make a House Your Home by Repainting!
I grew up in a home that was traditional off-white, except for a hint of yellow on the kitchen walls. I’ve always dreamed about painting the walls, though I’ve only been able to do it in two of our homes. Painting helps cover up previous occupants’ holes and scrapes on the walls. Adding a bit of colour to the walls can also brighten any home.
If you’re renting, your ability to repaint will depend on your landlord (or your desire to get your damage deposit back). One of our landlords gave us carte blanche permission to repaint and even paid for the paint! Other landlords may give you permission to paint as long as they approve the colours first.
#3: Make a House Your Home by Adding an Area Rug
Flooring takes up a lot of space in a home. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not. We’ve lived in places with both hardwood and carpet, and I much prefer hardwood. However, our current place has white carpet through the dining room and living room. If you have kids, you’ll understand why I want to someday replace the carpet with hardwood.
Until then, we’re simply hiding most of the carpet under our black area rug. We’ve had that area rug since our first home, and it has gone equally well with khaki green carpet, dark and light hardwood, brown carpet, and white carpet.
An area rug is an easy way to brighten up a space, add character to a room, or hide an ugly floor. It can help reduce noise and improve traction on slippery floors.
Area rugs can also create a fun play space for kids, like the dollhouse rug above. You can also find neighbourhood rugs that are like a map for your child to drive their cars or trains on. Another fun option is a hopscotch game rug to encourage kids to be active everyday.
While area rugs can be expensive, you can often find them on sale.
#4: Make a House Your Home Changing the Window Coverings
If you’re renting, this will again depend upon your landlord. Most of the places we’ve lived have had window treatments provided by the landlord. One place (our seventh) didn’t. The landlord claimed too many tenants had run off with window coverings, so he didn’t provide them. I had fun picking our own curtains and rods.
In our last place, the windows all had blinds. However, that wasn’t enough to keep the light out in the summer. I added curtains in the girls’ rooms to help them get to sleep sooner. I loved the way the bright curtains added a playful tone to their room (especially since we couldn’t paint there).
A simple valance or decorative curtain can add a lot of character to a room. If your landlord doesn’t want holes around the windows, you may be able to add curtains or window treatments on tension rods.
#5: Make a House Your Home by Adding Vinyl Stickers
Vinyl wall stickers are a fun, easy way to decorate walls without damaging them. If you can’t paint or hang pictures because of your landlord’s rules, you can still add vinyl stickers. There are so many inspirational messages available in fancy scripts now. Black letters like this “Every family has a story… welcome to ours” quote look sharp on any wall and add a sense of atmosphere to your home.
If you have kids, vinyl stickers are also a great way to decorate their room because it’s easy to change the stickers in a year or two when their interests change. They can be into princesses today and space exploration next month!
Bonus: Grow Houseplants
Houseplants not only create a homey feeling, they also help improve the air in your home by filtering out toxins and increasing the humidity. Many of my house plants were given to me (like my artwork!) by friends. My mother-in-law or aunt are excellent at growing houseplants and have passed on extras to me frequently. House plants are sometimes hard to move, and may take some time to settle into a new home (as you figure out where they get the best light).
One of my favourite, easy-to-grow houseplants is an aloe plant. It’s also useful for first aid and skincare.
What are your favourite ways to make a house a home?