How to Turn a House into a Home – Case study of OUR house!
In between Pinterest, HGTV and all of the design magazines, it can be easy to get caught up in what is trendy and hip, while forgetting about what really matters when it comes to decorating a home.
So what does matter? Well, it varies from person to person, but I’ve found there are 2 main categories: external and internal.
Relates to how you think OTHERS view your home
This is how the dining room looked when we bought the house. It didn’t feel like ‘us’ and the open layout (kitchen/living/dining) was not very ‘intimate’ feeling. Until things were changed around, I was NOT having company over for dinner (even though we knew they were just coming for my stellar personality and epic cooking skills – wink wink).
A few examples of external feelings…
- Feeling proud to have guests come over
- Having your guests feel comfortable in your home even if it isn’t their personal style
- That whole ‘keepin’ up with the Jones’ thing (those Jones’ get around more than me in my 20’s!)
- Worrying about what ‘other people’ will think before making a purchase (which is what I do before buying underwear)
- Worrying about what ‘other people’ will think after making a purchase, aka: 2nd guessing your personal tastes
Internal is how YOU feel about your home
Now I LOVE our dining room. Even with the open layout floorplan, the space feels more authentic to our personal tastes and cosier to spend time in!
A few examples of internal feelings…
- Having an authentic home that is a reflection of who is living in it (human and furry)
- Feeling comfortable so you can relax in your space
- Feeling safe and at peace
- Feeling proud of it (for yourself)
Personally, I fall smack-dab in the middle of both categories. I have a desperate need to have an authentic home that I am comfortable and at peace in. At the same time, I want to feel proud of it (kind of comes with my job) so that when guests come over they are comfortable and impressed with my latest changes (which are weekly btw) and ever-dwindling wine collection.
So, I’m going to use my home as a ‘case study’ of sorts to show you what makes OUR house, feel like a home…
Idea #1 Photos
When it comes to family photos, ‘too much of a good thing’ only applies if you are selling your home. If you are NOT selling your home and are decorating it for yourself and your family there is NO SUCH THING as ‘too much’ if it makes you feel good!
Read more: Our Family Room – The Final Reveal
Your family IS your home. Whether you like 4 photos or 40, how you pay homage to those you love is a personal matter and should not be up for public opinion (even your sister’s – tell her to mind her own beeswax…)
Idea #2 Artwork
Whether it’s Grandma’s old needlework or your collection of waterscapes, what you hang on your walls speaks VOLUMES about your tastes, hobbies and history.
While I certainly tread that line between what is personal and what is ‘decoratively appropriate’ (and no, I don’t mean nudes) I don’t have ONE SINGLE piece of artwork in my home that I don’t love. In fact, I have a strange obsession with trees for some reason. I can’t explain it or rationalize it – I love trees and have a lot of them in my artwork (fascination with hardwood I suppose – wink wink).
I also like to display my kid’s artwork. While they aren’t pumpin’ them out like they used to, my heart still smiles every time a new masterpiece is made.
The above photos are from our old house when I was in bouncing between the hutch, wine cabinet and church pew phases. I bought the church pew for $30 and painted it a beautiful red – I also did my confession there (hourly basis…) Let’s just say I had to sell the church pew before I wore my knees out.
- Church Pew – $30 + paint (and 1 bottle of wine)
- Wine Cabinet – $90 + paint (and 2 bottles)
Why do I share the prices with you? Because it shows that you don’t necessarily have to have piles of moula to add style and personality to your home!
BUT (Kardashian sized), just because I’ve given you permission to hang your paint by number doesn’t mean you get to go all willy-nilly and hang whatever wherever – there has to be SOME method to the madness! Why? Because if you have the RIGHT piece in the RIGHT place, the result is simply magic!
Read more: The Right Height to Hang Artwork
Idea #3 Memorabilia
These are the pieces that tell a story. And while memorabilia is often old (like Grandma’s old china cabinet or Grandpa’s fishing rod), it can also be more recent. Maybe it’s your heart rock collection (the girls and I have collected hundreds) or that crystal vase from your third wedding. Whatever it is, if it has a story then it’s memorable.
It doesn’t need to be an epic story – it just needs to be yours.
What has sentimental value here?
- The large framed photo is the door of the church we got married at (best day of his life). My Mom and Dad took the photo
- Shel Silverstein books. Read cover to cover to Cassie as he is Tim’s fave writer
- Stacks of books – books that I’ve loved
- Goodies in that long low bowl – 1900’s tape measure, soap Maggie made and dice that my Big Grandpa and I’d play Yahtzee with
- The metal dog – my sweet Bowser (and if you haven’t read about our life-long love affair you should…)
- Roy Henry Vickers book – from the good times we’ve spent up on Tofino/Ucluelet where his gallery is
While you might not know it, this bookcase is just OOZING with memories including special books and decorative pieces.
Want more decorating ideas? Follow me on Pinterest!
Idea #4 Books
I am a reader. I love the smell of books, I love the feel of books and I love the look of books. I actually went out looking for a few of Amy Tan’s books (having just read one and loved it). I found them at my fave used book haunt and didn’t buy them because the covers were ugly. That’s right, I DO judge a book by its cover.
This is our bookcase from a few years ago…
Paint colour Benjamin Moore Navajo White
And this is our bookcase now (my collection great a bit…)
If I enjoy a book I want to keep it forever. I don’t want to loan it, trade, it, sell it, give it, I want to KEEP it. So I do. I only keep my faves and I have a few of those…a few hundred. Here’s my 11′ long bookcase that holds some them!
Idea #5 Total Disregard for ‘Style’
I have style alright – MY style, which is called ‘whatever strikes my fancy!’ That’s right, I don’t have a specific personal style, or if I do it would be called ‘West Coast, homey, farmhouse, modern country, eclectic’ – yes, that about covers it.
Why I buy the things I do…
- I buy things because I love them. Because I go to a store and slip on my drool as I walk by them
- I buy things because if I don’t they will haunt my dreams…for real
- I buy things because I like change. While I do have my constants (family, dogs and wine), I love to change my rooms around and get excited about new ideas and treasures!
If I had to match everything I bought to a specific style, our home would be a false representation of the people who live in it,
And while I’ve always wanted fake boobs, I don’t want a fake home.
Wanna read more about about this topic?
Visit Lauren at Bless’er House. She has an awesome writing style and some great thoughts on ‘Trends’…
Summary: How to Turn Your House Into a Home
- Add family photos
- Add artwork that you love
- Decorate with memorabilia
- Embrace your favourite books
- Disregard ‘style’
To learn how to add some personal style to your own home, check out my affordable Online Decorating and Colour Consulting Services
Love it all! I especially love the memories part. I try to hold on to things that are special and decorate with them as well. Thanks!!
Thank you Gwen! I think it’s those things that really make a home feel…homey! Thanks for reading 🙂
I’ve just discovered your blog and I LOVE it! I’m right there with you loving books and dogs. My vice is Coke/Pepsi–I wish it was “cooler” like wine, but I love what I love. I have hundreds if not thousands of books too. I’m 57 and feel like my creative side is just emerging. Think I’ll be doing a color consultation (or two) before long.
Thank you for writing this, I grew up with no mother so I never understood how to feel about a home. My dad put a couch where ever and that was it….but I had very opinionated female pressure in my life though (mother in laws and aunts) that made me feel I had to conform to a strict path of what I had to do and want for a home. (functionality, no fuss) At 40 and in my second marriage now, I am just now feeling like I want to break out of these molds, I am so inspired by this article (your whole blog really) I have been decorating this way a bit but I am now dedicated to doing this for ME and my tastes alone from here on out! I want to make our house warm and fun for myself, my husband and my two young boys who also share my sense of fun and love of color and art. Thank you so much again! It’s fun learning what to do- and on a budget if need be -you are inspiring!
Hi Misty! Sooooo, as you can see I’m a bit behind on the comments. I’ve dedicated this last week to going through the literally thousands of them. And most of them I don’t reply to because the questions are so old by now! (and I’ve now made a plan to keep up with them in the future!). But I happened to read yours, and it touched me. It sounds like you are figuring yourself out and what makes you happy and that is ALWAYS a good thing – and it’s good to show your boys that too. I find that women often have an opinion when it comes to matters of the home and it’s so easy to get caught up in their well-intentioned advice, but sometimes when we just sit back and think about what WE like, what home looks like to US, that everything really comes together 🙂
I’m very happy for you and I’m glad i could help, even in a little way 🙂
Love, love ,love it. The article is great. You helped me make my mind for my home decor. Thanks.
I also really like your back book shelf . Can you tell me where you find it ? If it was long time ago, can you recommend some place to find it?
Hi Tracy! I actually had a local guy make it for me out of fir! He did a great job – just really basic construction. I couldn’t find a bookshelf as long as I wanted and this did the trick. I then painted it and distressed it myself 🙂
Thank you, I am trying so hard to redo my house. It’s overwhelming . I realize I’m trying to make it look like something out of a magazine. I think i will try and find things that I love, and not be trendy.
I just want warm, cozy and functional. Thanks for the tips.
Hi Lori, what a great note to get! It’s true, and trust me, I do the same thing – I get caught up in the idea of what the magazines are doing and what it ‘should’ look like. When I slow down and figure out what WE as a family like the best, everything falls together so much easier!