How to Make a Home Comfortable & Welcoming
We all want a home where, the second you or anyone else walks through the door, there is a comfortable and welcoming feeling. One where all the troubles of the world seem to melt away as soon as you pull up the drive. To have a home that immediately makes you relax when you walk through the door is one of the first rules of Homemaking. Unfortunately, sometimes we feel as if that cannot be accomplished without owning a large, fancy house or have hired an interior decorator.
Allow me to tell you just how wrong that statement is. An interior decorator is not necessary. You can do it simply, and all by yourself, with what you already have on hand. If you want a home that feels comfortable and welcoming, just follow these few tips. Your home will be decorated ‘perfectly’.
A Compatible Home
If someone walks through your back door into a fun 1950s kitchen, the next room in the house they enter really shouldn’t be like a trip to the Orient. Starkly different room décor can have a startling, and even unsettling effect. Choose a look and carry it throughout the home. That does not mean you can’t have a Ming vase in a farmhouse living room. Just don’t overdo.
I love perusing through magazines at those picture-perfect rooms. They are beautiful, but my initial reaction is always, ‘Who lives like that?’ My house is a true miss-match of furnishings, with most of them being hand-me-downs or flea market finds.
The trick is to have a ‘theme’, be it color, style, or ‘feel’ (festive, calming, etc.). Choose an overall color or color scheme, and carry it throughout the house. No. You do not have to paint every wall yellow. But if you do want to paint the walls, keep them in the same tone or shade family. Pull the rooms together with the same style and feel. If your look is vintage, then add vintage pieces to each room.
And if Aunt Becky’s ornate mahogany marble top side table just doesn’t fit, but you still cannot part with it, stick a small, old galvanized bucket on it and fill it with candy or potpourri.
Cleanliness Makes it Comfortable
I am not talking about spotless here. In spite of how you view your home, no one is going to go home and tell the world about the dust bunnies behind your refrigerator. However, a week’s worth of dirty dishes piled up in the sink is another matter. It can make your home feel less than welcoming and comfortable. To the best of your ability, pick up, put away, and wipe down countertops. Give the bathrooms a once over at least once a day, and a good scrubbing once or twice a week. Learn to ‘dance’ with a broom each day, and the vacuum and mop at least two or three times a week.
A Welcoming Aroma
When we keep our windows closed all the time, the air inside becomes stale. Truthfully, commercial air fresheners don’t really help matters. The best way to keep your home smelling fresh is to keep it clean, and open the windows at least three times a week, if not once a day. Spring and fall weather makes it easy to do this. In the heat of the summer, open them early in the morning while the air is still cool. In winter, do it in the middle of the day or mid-afternoon, once the sun has had a chance to warm things up. It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. A few minutes each time helps move stale air out and fresh air in. Make sure to open windows on different ends and/or levels of the house to create cross ventilation. Also, learn to create your own potpourri using either a dried mixture that has been placed around the house in bowls, or add a simmering pot on the back burner of the stove.
I will confess. I do not make my own potpourri. Instead, I indulge in the Clair Burke products. My favorite is the Original scent. It is beautiful, with sprigs of larkspur and roses, and looks great in a vintage green glass mixing bowl. When I need to freshen it, I use a drop of the Home Fragrance Oil. Simple put your potpourri in a zip-close bag, add a drop of oil and seal. Give it a light shake and you are good to go again!
There is nothing worse than visiting a home, and being offered a chair that you are either afraid will break when you sit down, or is hard and uncomfortable. In today’s world, we are encouraged to purchase furniture which has been touted as ‘trendy’ or ‘modern’. Unfortunately, they are mostly designed for looks, and not use. Choose furniture that you are willing to sit in for any length of time. Try it out before you buy it. And if you are lucky enough to have grandparents that own those great over-stuffed chairs, nicely ask if they can be willed to you. Even if they are rather…‘well-used’, shall we say… slip covers work wonders!
The same works when you have overnight guests. You don’t have to run out and purchase expensive European cotton sheets. The sheets you have, as long as they aren’t threadbare or torn, will work fine. But add that ‘extra’ touch. After the sheets have been washed, hang them on the line to dry. If you really want to go the extra mile, take them off of the line while they are just slightly damp, and iron them. Aunt Emily always ironed her sheets. And there is nothing better for a good night’s rest than sheets that have been line-dried and ironed. Let the guest room of your home shout ‘comfortable and welcoming’!
Have you ever walked into a room and immediately froze, because it was wall-to-wall knickknacks, and you were in fear of breaking something? Instead of filling up every empty space, leave room to breathe. I use the Principle of Three. There is one bowl of potpourri on an old washstand in my living room. On the other side are two wooden cow banks. The banks are two different sizes, yet still taller than the bowl. On the wall behind them is a painting of a cow with a wreath of flowers on her head. It all blends, without being overpowering or to ‘matchy-matchy’.
To every rule there is an exception. For instance, if you have a collection of angels, it is okay to line them up on a mantel or shelf. Just make sure other surfaces, such as tables and sideboards, hold only an item or two, or a small grouping, to ‘balance’ the weight of the angels.
If you have too much stuff, and love it all, you can still enjoy it. Periodically, ‘freshen’ up the look of your home by swapping out items. Those that are displayed today, can be safely packed in boxes and stored. Remove other items from already stored boxes, and put them in the place of the others.
Change your curtains. To help keep your home warm, hang heavier curtains or drapes during the winter months. When doing your spring cleaning, remove those to launder, and replace them with a lighter choice, such as lace or gingham.
Rearrange the furniture. Use a closer grouping for fall and winter, and a looser one for spring and summer. Make minor changes such as throw pillows. Change out that heavy knit blanket for a lightweight throw.
I love and collect vintage milk bottles. However, I have too many to put out. So instead, I use the cream bottles as glasses for an informal table. The larger ones get changed out periodically and used for fresh flowers. See if your collection can double as vases. Change them out periodically, and fill them with seasonal flowers. Viola! An instant, fresh ‘make over’!
A home that feels welcoming and comfortable when you first enter is the most important element of good design. We want everything to be ‘perfect’, but in truth, that perfection doesn’t exist. It is all in the ‘eye of the beholder’. A true home is decorated with a beauty that is intangible.
If you truly want to decorate your home, love your family. Open your doors to friends with a welcoming smile that reaches straight to your heart. Put on a pot of soup and bake a loaf of bread to take to a neighbor who is sick or lives alone. ‘Clean’ your house of strife, anger, hatred, mean-spiritedness and impatience.
Forget perfection, for it is the imperfection that adds character and charm to every home. And love and joy are the crowning touch.
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