WHAT MAKES A HOUSE A HOME? By Lisa Gibson
“A house starts to feel like a home when it reflects the warmth and love of those who live in it.”
The expression goes, “home is where the heart is”. No matter where in the world you and your family may find yourselves, as long as you have love, and each other, you will be able to make any place home. But feeling truly at a home in a new country can take time. So how do you go about making your new abode feel like home?
Your home should be your sanctuary, a haven from the chaos of the outside world. A place where you can come back to and feel instantly welcomed, a space that is inviting to both your family and visiting guests. Creating a homely environment that feels like where you belong can actually speed up the settling in process, and make the moving transition that much smoother. So here are 10 tips we’d like to share with you on how to transform your house into a home:
Add some indoor greenery
Buy a few plants for your new space. Adding a living houseplant can instantly create that homely feeling. It’s almost like a metaphor for “putting down roots”, and gives you the impression that you’re settling in to your new surroundings.
Meaningful routines & rituals
Enjoying meal times together around the table as a family is a simple routine that instantly adds to that homely vibe. If one of your favourite rituals is to burn a scented candle, or arrange some fresh flowers, do these things as a way to create that homely feeling. Establishing and getting back into your regular routines and adding meaningful rituals are just a few easy ways to help your loved ones settle in quickly.
Even if you have a fully furnished apartment or house, try to add as many personal touches as possible right from the start. Your home should be an expression of your personality, as well as the things your family values and cherishes. Whether it’s family photo frames, your kids’ drawings hanging up on the fridge door or your favourite books arranged on the bookshelf. Hang up your art and place some decorative scatter cushions as soon as you move in to instantly give your home that personal touch.
Release your inner interior decorator
Play with texture, colour and light. A rug instantly changes up a living space and gives it a homely feel. Make use of lamps for softer, ambient lighting. Add a colourful and cosy throw to your couch. Consider painting a feature wall to add depth and character to a room. Layer textures and bring in natural elements such as wood. Mirrors can give the illusion of making a small space seem bigger and painting the walls in a darker colour gives the impression of more intimate space for a large room. Get creative and be inspired – and most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment!
Hygge your home
Hygge is a Danish term, which doesn’t really have a direct English translation, but more or less means: “a quality of cosiness that brings feelings of contentment or well-being”. So essentially, Hygge is a feeling, a sensation. It’s about creating an intimate, cosy and homely environment within your living space. Making use of candlelight to create an inviting atmosphere is just one way of bringing Hygge into your home. So is making use of warm palettes and tones in your decorating. Hygge is also about finding pleasure in the small things and always being mindful and in the moment.
Dedicate a corner to memories
As an expat, you’ve no doubt lived in a number of different countries and collected various pieces along the way, each one a lovely memory of a certain time and place. Display these items in your home to remind you of how you successfully managed to make all those other places “home”. They will also be an interesting talking point for visitors and guests. A family photo feature wall is a great way of dedicating a space to your memories. Another idea is to have a display cabinet containing all the pieces you’ve collected over the years.
Make a special space for each family member
Do you crave your own nook or corner where you can do your art or sewing projects in peace or simply a place where you can just relax with a good book? Will your husband need a dedicated office or a quiet space somewhere in your home for those times when he needs to be undisturbed and focused? Is there a space somewhere in your place that can be a dedicated kid’s corner, a place just for them to enjoy? Let them be involved in decorating their space, and give them an opportunity to add their creative input.
Add your signature mark
Whether it’s that painting you did in an art class, or a cushion you made with local fabrics from your last posting, adding a bit of your personality goes a long way in creating that homely feeling. It doesn’t even have to be a signature mark; it could even be your signature scent – the smell of your freshly baked cookies or bread, or your favourite scented candle or room fragrance. Don’t forget to incorporate elements from your new home country. If Ghana is now home, add some interesting masks or local artwork to the walls, or have some cushions made from one of the many types of colourful fabrics available.
Celebrate and cherish the little moments
Celebrate the little wins as well as the small but meaningful moments, like when your son receives an award from school or when your spouse comes home early from work to spend time with the family. Even if it’s a relatively small deal, make it a big deal! Make it something worth celebrating! Go out for a family dinner, or make a special Sunday breakfast/brunch. Go visit your favourite museum or park together, or go watch a movie as a family. All these things help you remember what the feeling of home is like, because after all, home is simply that feeling of love and belonging.
Invite new friends round
The final step in turning your house into a home is to hold a house warming party and invite your new friends over to celebrate your new home! It can be as intimate or as friend-filled as you would like it to be!