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Be Builtfully Blog

5 Tips to Turn Your House Into a Home

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

The home idea has been on our minds more than ever during the last couple of years. The word home can have a variety of meanings for the people living in them - a place of refuge or an uncomfortable space. Society has spent more time working from home or isolating at home. This time at home has been one where some learned new skills, coped with recent struggles and adjusted to new norms.

An exhibit called 'Soft Prison,' Museum of the Home, London, (30th Sept - 28th Nov 2021) "explored the landscape of private space and its capacity to contain and sustain us." Wellness in our homes has become increasingly critical for the health of the people living in them. What is the definition of a haven? The Dictionary states it is "a place of safety or refuge." Creating our home to become a haven is a way we can take some control and make our place better in these uncertain times.

My dog looks like she has found our home to be a haven.

To transform my house into a home, I read Designology: How to Find Your PlaceType & Align Your Life about environmental psychology to learn how "colors, textures, scents, and other factors in your home influence your happiness." I am also taking a Feng Shui course at the New York Institute of Art and Design to learn how to "study the fundamentals of decluttering, space management, and harmony." It has been rewarding to know how to create a more haven-like home, so I wanted to write the blog and share what I have done with you.

I have been contemplating what home means to me during this time! I believe it is a safe place to get away, dream, create, and be inspired. It is also a place to spend time with loved ones. I also work from home, so it combines work and live space.

From my personal experience, I lived in a one-bedroom apartment with windows on only one side of the unit that had a view of a historical mill. This blocked most of the outside world and felt very isolating. Finding ways to make a home haven was essential for my mental and physical well-being.

When I looked to move into another apartment and decorate it this past year, certain decorating elements became necessary in making my private space sustain me. I learned to apply these design principles to my current apartment.

Click next on the slideshow to see the before photo of the space.

This blog has my top five decorating tips for making a home into a haven. It also showcases photography from my two contemporary apartments. These photographs will provide visual information on how I decorated my spaces to make them feel and function more purposeful.

These decorating tips can be applied to any home as I lived in a 750 square feet apartment and now in a 1,200 square feet apartment. One day when this time is behind us, it’s important to remember these tips and lessons learned during this difficult time. This information can be shared and implemented anytime, so one can find simple ways to make their home comfortable.

As it states in the Designology book, different personalities or "Placetypes" thrive in various spaces. Therefore each tip may be altered for the people you live with too.

Disclaimer: These tips come from my personal and professional experience in creating harmony in a home. It is not medical advice or expertise; please go to your medical provider if you have specific questions. Resources are available throughout the article if you would like to research further into these suggestions.

Tip 1). Create a view with nature in mind

Finding ways to change and grow the bleak view became a priority. I decided to create a rooftop garden, and the difference was significant. It provided a lovely idea, but it also allowed me to feel in control of my environment a bit more.

Even though plants have their mind (especially the buttercup squash that grew onto our neighbor’s deck space), the ever-changing plants were entertainment and joy throughout the season. The bountiful fruits and herbs produced a healthy at-home cooking experience which we did more and more. The fun and good taste of what was made and slowing down to experience a nutritious meal produced (no pun intended) a more thoughtful dining experience.

New rooftop garden hobby developed due to more time at home.

If you don’t have a deck or yard for a garden, bringing house plants around you can create a similar experience. Plants enhance our well-being and even clean the air; as stated in the Designology book, they "improve a place by processing the carbon dioxide present." The plants are something to care for and even talk to! I have heard it helps them grow, or maybe it helps me grow. Once I had the confidence to try gardening, it was amazing to see the results.

Some of it was by trial and error, but the process of testing and witnessing the plant's flowers and fruits did indeed produce joy and beauty in a time that especially needed those emotions. At the very least, buying flowers and adding them to your spaces brings in color, scents, and appreciating the small touches.

Flowers are always a nice touch on the table (yes, you can treat yourself to them).

Tip 2). Design a well-defined dining space for at-home cooking

For two years, my household used a kitchen island bar as a table, and it did not work well for entertaining ourselves or guests for mealtime. Being in the design world, I have heard in the past that the dining room is going out of style. I hope that trend does not continue because I believe in the importance of feeling special during a meal.

It is nice to take time out of our busy lives by sitting down and slowing down together at a table. If one does not have a dining room, there are ways to make the space still feel defined.

In my next place, having a unique space for entertaining with a bay window made the people sitting around the table focus on being present for the meal and one another. A simple way to define the space is to add candles around it and make the time to light them before each dinner as if it is a sacred time to be there.

Making your dinner room space glow is always a lovely way for mood lighting.

If windows are around the table, they provide a view, a conversation starter, and a connection to the outside world. My household often watches the seagulls flying above or the dog-walkers below at our table, inspiring an after-dinner stroll to the ocean. Spaces like this can help our haven comfort us inside and connect us to the outside world.

During this time, we ate a lot more home-cooked meals. We learned how to eat healthily and take the time to slow down. It was rewarding, mainly when we used herbs and fresh vegetables from our garden (see tip number one).

Here are some home-cooked meals I made during this time at home that provided a newfound sense of joy.

Tip 3). Situate a desk in front of a window with a view and, if not possible, have special mementos surrounding it

Reading Edith Wharton’s book The Decoration of Houses and learning the design tips of the past made me realize my desk space was not producing the best creative environment for writing and creating my website. Edith Wharton suggests placing a desk in front of a window, which I thought was genius.

However, I did not have the opportunity to do so in my last apartment. I assisted the lack of view in my small office space by putting special mementos that create feelings of joy- gifts from loved ones, photographs, souvenirs from traveling, artwork, quotes, books, and plenty of notebooks for creative use ideations to come.

Why not add a glass of wine to the mix when you launch the Builtfully website.

In my next place, I was lucky enough to have an office with a view of a historically registered post office building outside. One of the first tips I remembered from Edith Wharton was to place my desk in front of it! I often lookout, and it connects me to the world as it goes by - the beautiful architecture reminds me of the benefits of beautifully built places.

The view also helps inspiration strike when the sunset is setting outside my window. I kept the tip from my last apartment and surrounded my desk with memorable mementos. I hope these small steps will provide an opportunity for inspiration to strike you too!

Tip 4). Add art to your spaces

Surround yourself with beauty! During this isolating time, art and beauty are something I have never craved or truly appreciated to this degree in my life. I have heard others say the same! Since I have not been able to travel, attend the theatre, or attend an art exhibit as much as I would have liked the past couple of years, I have had to make it myself.

This quiet time allowed for more creative time! Check out my photo gallery shop and my memoir for some projects I have been working on during this time.

I recently decided to finally get to that photography project I talked about and bought a printer to fill the best of my photo memories in an album. Even though most of us keep our photos electronically, I want to see them around my place on my coffee table in an album, in frames, and on my walls.

Going through my photography from my travels helped me get excited to travel again.

If I can see the people and places I love as much, they can be around me when I get a glimpse of them in my home. These glimpses create emotions that bring nostalgia and hope for future memories to make more photographs.

The book Designology states that art "can give us a positive psychology boost." Art can show others and ourselves what is important to us. It can bring back memories and connect us to the outside world.

When I moved halfway across the country to a new place, I realized the importance of bringing artwork from my hometown and my new home. I entered a photography contest for the artist Kat Maus Haus. and one of my photographs was chosen out of many to be featured in her New England illustrated calendar.

Kat Maus Haus artist created an illustration based on my Plum Island photography.

Now I have it hung up in my office! It connected me to the local area, but it also helped me meet new people. The power of supporting local art is endless!

Tip 5). Make your home a spa

The last tip is not the least important. That’s correct. I said “make your home a spa” above! If you cannot go to a spa, let’s bring it in. I have done this in both places, and this will always be a tip I will do in every home I have. I have chosen ways to create a peaceful environment all around me. I also have a nightly routine that helps my mind and body know it is time to wind down.

According to The Happiness Project tips, they say "look for ways to make a space you regularly use more restful. Clear clutter, add pillows or more comfortable furniture, eliminate unpleasant sounds or smells.” Below are Builtfully's tips to bring a spa into your home based on the five senses that I have found to create a lovely, relaxing environment.

Bringing a spa into the bedroom creates a relaxing environment.

Sense of Sound

  • Sound machine with options to rejuvenate and calm ie white noise.

  • Put on with meditation music to play to start the process of getting in or out of bed more mindfully.

  • Sound-canceling wall panels to block the neighbor noise next door.

Sense of Sight

  • Himalayan salt lamp to hopefully cleanse the air more, but at the very least produces a lovely warm light to set the mood.

  • Lamps, not overhead lighting, create soft, warm lighting (buy warm light bulbs). The type affects how it fills the space and reminds us it’s time to be comfortable.

  • Candles! The original mood lighting.

  • Statues, artwork, books, journals, etc., to connect with your higher self.

  • Curtains over your windows to soften the light and provide privacy.

Sense of Touch

  • Soft blankets, fluffy pillows, and a comforter pattern that soothes you.

  • The most comfortable bed one can create so that being there is a safe, secure, and relaxing environment.

  • Massage balm and equipment, stretching yoga bands, and neck pillow ease the body.

Sense of Smell

  • Essential oils diffuser with scents such as lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint, depending on mood.

  • Candles, incense, oil diffuser sticks, sage, etc., burn and enjoy the smells and ambiance.

  • Fresh flowers and plants to create a lovely, fresh scent. I love picking lilacs in the spring and putting them on my nightstand!

Sense of Taste

  • Herbal tea especially bedtime, chamomile, and other relaxing teas is a wonderful way to unwind.

  • A glass of water - stay hydrated even at night!

These are ways I have created a spa-like retreat in my bedroom and have found it to rejuvenate and relax my mind, body, and spirit. The power of place can literally and figuratively affect our being and bring us to a better place.

Home into a Haven

This time has shown us the importance of having your home be a haven. Hopefully, these five tips, no matter the size of your house, help you make it feel like a home. These five tips should enhance your five sense experience (visually, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting). When all of our senses are content, it should create a healthy and happy environment.

Please share comments on how you have turned your home into a haven during this time and if you plan on keeping it in the future.

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Be Builtfully!


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