My sister just moved into a new house at the beginning of January, and she's been asking for my advice to make it feel less like a house and more like a home. The hardest thing for me when I decorate my space is keeping myself from buying everything at once. I really don't have the budget to go on a home decor shopping spree, so I have forced myself to be patient (and creative!) with decorating. Here are 10 easy and free ways you can bring warmth and style to your house, apartment, or dorm room.
If you look at professionally decorated spaces in magazines or online you'll notice that every room has at least one organic element. Fresh flowers are nice, but even plain brown branches can be beautiful when placed in a nice vase. Go outside, clip some plants, and place them in a tall glass or pitcher. Don't be afraid to get creative! Pine boughs can last a long time if you place them with water or spray them with water regularly. Collect several and make a garland for your mantle or bookshelf.
There's nothing more delightful than walking into a home with a good smell. If you have candles, light them whenever you're home, or if your budget is tight, make your own stove-top potpourri with oranges, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Check out this great recipe here!
Music is wonderful because it costs nothing and adds so much flavor to the atmosphere in a home. Pick some music that speaks to you and play it in your living room. Keep it on when you have company, as long as it's not too loud. Some of my favorite artists include: Frank Sinatra, John Mayer, Yo Yo Ma, and anything by Claude Debussey.
The biggest stumbling block for most homes is clutter. I truly believe that if people kept their homes clean, they wouldn't need to decorate so much! If you do have clutter (or if you're like me and live in a small student apartment), find storage that is fashionable AND functional. Ikea and Target are great resources for these types of items. Use boxes, baskets, or bowls to collect items and store them in more attractive ways. Don't overlook things like books, keys, and cosmetics. I put all my lip balms and chapsticks in a little dish on my bathroom counter and I was surprised how great it looked.
Every house feels a little more friendly with some family pictures. If you don’t have any printed photos, you could draw a picture of your family or copy a favorite scripture and frame it. Don't go overboard though! See tip #6.
Beautiful homes don't just display family pictures and wedding portraits. They add an element of elegance by showcasing beautiful artwork. Original art can be very expensive, so find ways to achieve the same look for less. The New York Public Library is available online and most of the collection is in the public domain. Find something that compliments your current décor, print a copy, and frame it. If you have more time, consider making something on your own! Copy a piece of abstract art and add your own style to it. Don't hesitate to make it BIG. Oversized art is very in right now.
7. Blankets and pillows
Part of making your house a home includes making it comfortable. Soft blankets and pillows on the couch or even on the ground can help you and your guests feel more welcome. If you don't have any sort of blanket, try using sheets, curtains, or dish towels. Cover your coffee table with a tablecloth or put a table runner on your TV stand. The more layers you can add to your decor, the more "decorated" it's going to feel.
I have found that a classy soap dispenser or matching set of soap and lotion bottles can really make a kitchen look nice. Make sure to hide your ugly scrub brushes and sponges in the sink so your counter stands out. Place soap on a small plate or block of wood and consider wrapping twine or ribbon around the spout.
Note: If you've done all these things and still don't feel like your house is very "homey," read the next two tips. Be deliberate with your placement of decorative items, and your house will look polished and complete instead of eclectic and messy.
9. Something Seasonal
Don't you love visiting houses that are decorated for the season? There's something so welcoming about a boxwood wreath in the spring or a jar of candy canes during Christmas time. Find ways to incorporate seasonal elements like flowers or pinecones into your décor. Even a just framed print can bring extra flavor to your living space. Look up "Seasonal Printable" on Pinterest and you'll be amazed at what you can find.
A vignette is technically an art term for a small illustration or portrait that fades into the background. Vignettes in decorating are somewhat similar. A vignette is any grouping of items that creates a focal point. I like to create vignettes on my coffee table, outside my front door, and near the kitchen sink. Get a small stack of books, a candle, and a picture frame, and Presto! You've got a vignette. If you want to see some vignettes that are both beautiful and thoughtful, check out this blog.
Decorating can be so overwhelming, especially if you feel like you can't spend any money. Don't be afraid to shop around your house and try new things. And if there's something from Pottery Barn you really want, make it a priority, be patient and save up for it! I found these great articles about making your house a home if you'd like additional inspiration:
Make Your House a Home by Reluctant Landlord
10 Ways to Create a Home with Warmth and Grace by The Better Mom
Making Your House a Home by Darling Magazine
Turning a House Into a Home on a Thrift Store Budget by The Nester
Making Your House Beautiful by Frugal Rules
Thanks for reading!
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