It’s a deceptively simple question nearly all designers ask at the start of a project: "How do you want your home to feel?"
But even without a designer's help, focusing on this day-one question can work wonders as you decorate your own home. Defining the feeling you want to cultivate will help you zero in on the results you want—and help you worry less about each little decision along the way.
Ready to give it a try?
To get started, we'll help you truly answer the question for yourself (and your family). Then, we'll suggest ways to bring those feelings to life in your own home.
Ask the question
Ideally, ask it not only of yourself, but of each person who shares your home. Below, we have phrased the question in a few different ways since a slightly different angle can often help unlock a truer answer:
- How do you want your home to feel?
- How do you want to feel when you walk through the front door?
- What do you wish guests would think about your home when they come over?
- What are the top three words you would use to describe how you want your home to feel?
Answer in hand, here are our best tips for bringing out your feelings in your home.
If you want your home to feel relaxed...
A relaxed home is where you don’t have to be afraid to put your feet on the furniture, snuggle the dog on the sofa or come to breakfast in your PJs. In other words, it’s part attitude and part easy-care materials.
If this is the way you want your home to feel, focus on loosening your expectation of perfection and accept the fact that a well-loved home will get a bit dinged up. If you feel too tense having a precious antique or heirloom around, consider giving it to a family member who will take good care of it and appreciate having it.
If you want your home to feel creative...
To fill your home things that feed your creative soul, keep your art or craft materials out where they can be easily used, prominently display your favorite treasures and tack up photos that inspire you. Play music you love, invite friends over (even if your house isn’t clean) and set an example by showing you are enjoying making the most of your beautifully imperfect home.
If you want your home to feel peaceful...
A sanctuary is a place of peace, where you can restore and revive yourself away from the bustle of the outside world. There are many different ways to make your home feel this way. See if any of these resonate with you:
- Use cool colors and soft neutrals.
- Keep clutter to a minimum.
- Don’t stress about keeping things overly neat or clean—sometimes, a peaceful space is one in which you can simply flop down and relax.
- Revive your senses with interesting textures, from rough to smooth, and delicious scents.
- Keep bothersome noises and light at bay with thick drapes or blackout shades.
If you want your home to feel welcoming...
A welcoming home is one that invites you to breathe a great big sigh of relief the moment you walk through the door. If your home isn’t doing that for you, take a moment to consider why: Do you need to clear some junk out of your entryway or add a lamp so you're greeted with a warm glow?
Continue the theme by hanging family photos that make you smile, and make sure there is plenty of seating for guests.
If you want your home to feel fun...
First, commit to having more fun at home. Carve out time in your schedule (and away from your screens) to spend on family activities, hobbies you enjoy and just kicking back. Try to loosen up decorating-wise, too: Try a new piece of wall decor or a paint color without overthinking it.
Let’s face it: Most decorating mistakes are not so horrible that they can’t be fixed with a little spackle and paint.
If you want your home to feel authentic...
This one is simple. Just be yourself and don’t worry about the trends. Surround yourself with things you love. Stack up your favorite books.
And please don’t apologize for the state of your house when friends come over. Instead, be realistic about what level of clutter and cleanliness you feel comfortable with—and make a commitment to keep your home "good enough."
If you want your home to feel safe...
A safe space for friends begins with kind conversation, so be a good listener. Boosting privacy can also help make a home feel more secure to be in, so consider adding privacy hedges or a fence outside, as well as window coverings that offer good privacy inside.
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