My first home as a recent college graduate was nice but small. My boyfriend and I were living together at the time, and we were grateful to fill the space with mostly handmade furniture and kitchen essentials. It seems silly to spend so much money on our house since 1.) we have everything covered, 2.) we are sharing space with someone else, and 3.) this house is the only one. for a while. Fast forward a few months and I don’t see myself living in our house. The house has everything we need, but I can’t rest enough or enjoy my house because I can’t make the feeling of discomfort. I later found out that the house didn’t feel like home because of a few rookie mistakes I made.
I learned a valuable lesson about the difference between a house over your head and a house that is truly yours—even if you’re paying rent or in a temporary living situation. Here are the design mistakes I made when I lived in my first house and all the answers you need to make your living space feel like home.
1. You are too busy.
Having a large pile is a sure way to reduce the energy in your space. Movement can cause stress, affect your ability to focus, and calm you down, all of which lead to excessive stress. This doesn’t mean that your home should always be spotless and clean, but over time, a cluttered entryway, messy bedroom, or common area can make your home less inviting.
Making sure all your stuff has a place is an easy way to keep it clutter-free, but one of my favorite hacks is to keep it out of sight. For example, I used to have a TV stand with open storage, which is not very convenient because it shows our cable box, internet connection, printer, wires, etc. pets, and knick knacks that are beyond measure. The solution? TV stand with cabinet doors. All these things are important, but we don’t need to look at them all the time. Once they were hidden behind the closed door, the place in our room suddenly felt comfortable and peaceful. Storage baskets and ottomans are also great for storing things out of sight. Pick a few for blankets, shoes, or anything else that can be stacked.
2. Your space doesn’t reflect your personality.
Just as the way we dress and the clothes we choose express who we are, our homes do the same. I got to the point where I realized that the furniture and decor I was making with my own hands wasn’t really me and didn’t reflect my personality. The house didn’t feel like a house until I started putting my own stamp on things.
Create an inspiration board on Pinterest, decide on a budget, and slowly transform your space with things like you, one page at a time. This will require patience, especially as you discover your true style, but it’s fun in the process. Take a look around your home, and pay attention to the colors that catch your eye, the furniture and decor that you love, and the things that make you realize something deeper. What do you want to add more? What’s wrong? These can be clues to subtle changes to make, whether you need to get rid of some things or bring in new things that you like.
3. Your space doesn’t fit the lifestyle you want.
Simply put, your home should help make your life better. If your home is not organized in a way that makes your daily activities more enjoyable, you can rearrange your home to create space for the things that are important to you.
One of the first steps of organizing guru Marie Kondo’s organizing ritual is to visualize your ideal way of life. What kind of house do you want to live in? How does your day start and end? What does living the best life look like? The Kondo method is meant to inspire you to organize your home, but it can also show you how your home is supporting you in achieving your goals—or not. For example, if your lifestyle includes starting the day with morning meditation, consider creating a small space with cushions, candles, and cozy blankets. This purposeful change in your environment can be the motivation you need to make that purpose a daily habit.
4. You tell yourself it’s temporary.
For some, owning a home is a dream. For others, leasing is convenient and may be the preferred option. And even if you know that your living situation is temporary, you can still do things to organize your home in a way that will make you feel calm and comfortable.
Whether you’re planning to move in six months or you can see yourself staying for years, don’t wait to make your space your own. Display art on the wall, put a plant on the windowsill, and create photos of friends and family. These are easy ways to enhance your space and better reflect who you are.
5. You compare your home to someone else’s.
Comparison is the thief of joy, as they say, and home envy really is. Social media is full of bloggers who pay to show off their beautiful homes, but while this content may be demanding, it’s easy to think that your own home isn’t enough.
Keep in mind that social media is only an attraction, and remember that it is always better to be silent or leave a record that makes you feel less. In fact, those well-designed traps can involve taking the confusion out of the mess. Create an appreciation for your current home, even if it’s a work in progress, and remind yourself of the things you love about it. No home is the same, and being appreciative of your space and all that it does for you can make you happier and more at home.