Home — and what makes it one — is different for all of us. But there are some universal truths that when taken to heart (and kept in mind), make the home we do have that much more enjoyable. These nine truths about home — how to make one and love the one you have — are the kind of simple truths that sometimes slip our busy minds. But they're lessons worth returning to and remembering.
1. It can take awhile to know what's important to you in a home — but it's important to figure out
The first few years of having a home you're concerned with feeling like a grown up and (sometimes) trying to impress others. The surest way to figure out what you like is to experience different homes, which might take a few years. So live in lots of places. Visit friends and hotels. Notice what matters to you. Is it architectural charm? Lots of natural light? A crumbly brick wall? Keep a running list — and prioritize them. Every home you make will get more and more authentic as you zero in on the elements that make a home important to you. But only if you pay attention.
2. Creating your dream home doesn't have to take a lot of money — and you sure shouldn't wait for "perfect" to really live
The trick is getting creative and putting effort into your current home — and then appreciating what you do have. Want to live in a mansion on the ocean one day? Hey, there's no hurt in aiming for that. Want a home filled to the brim with modern Italian furniture? Dream big! But in the meantime, get creative to turn whatever home you do live in closer to what you love. The effort of DIYing, grabbing deals and painting walls is always worth it. But so is appreciating what you do have, even if you're not a millionaire with a five-car garage home. And don't wait around for money, a spouse, the "right" time to make your "dream" house, either.
3. Plants make every room better
They bring life and cheeriness into a room. They filter the air. They just make any room look great. Even those with a black thumb (like myself) can find plants that withstand your abuse long enough to be worth it (I'm so appreciative of my snake plant's resolve to live despite my best efforts to kill it). Don't have the kind of money to splurge on big plants? Learn how to propagate succulents for free.
4. You really probably don't need all that stuff
Clutter is a happiness killer. We're not talking about collecting things — if you're someone who loves a home full of fun finds that you've picked up throughout the year, fill that space up to your heart's delight (just maybe dust pretty often). We're talking about homes that are filled with unneeded things. Items bought out of boredom, because you wanted to impress someone else. Bought impulsively and without thinking. That kind of stuff? That's clutter. And you don't need it. It'll only physically and mentally bog you down. Learn that lesson as soon as you can — and be open to relearning it in every new home you live in (as it's easily forgotten).
5. Home is who you share it with
So learn to get along with whoever shares your home, whether it's a roommate or a spouse. Communicate with roommates calmly (and don't leave passive aggressive notes — even if they're funny). Work with your spouse to come up with designs that make everyone comfortable. Consider your pets' needs so that they don't get bored or restless and tear the joint up. Celebrate your home by inviting people over, even if it's just for tea and packaged snacks. And learn to be alone if you live alone. Don't always be seeking out distractions. Use quiet time at home to listen to your surroundings and get to know yourself.
6. You don't have to learn how to fix everything, but knowing what's "off" makes life easier
Creating a nice home means paying attention to what's going on within — how the appliances are working, noticing if the toilet's constantly running. You don't have to be an expert at fixing everything, but you should know when something's not quite right. Just being attentive to your home's normal state means you'll catch when things aren't quite right, and it might save you time and money on repairs later on.
7. Even the smallest studio will seem like a mansion when you learn that "home" actually extends beyond your walls
We've really encouraged you to explore your neighborhoods this summer. Though your home is your sanctuary — the place that recharges you and you find peace and solitude in, really delving into your neighborhood could be another way to find joy in where you live. Even if you don't live in your dream location, there might be a restaurant that could become your favorite Friday night hang out. There could be a small hardware store that makes buying home supplies a more pleasant experience. There could be a nice few streets that you can take walks on to clear your mind.
8. You deserve a clean home
I've always known that having a clean home is important — for health and sanity. For being able to entertain easier and more often. But it wasn't really until I came across the idea that I deserve a clean home that made me make the switch from an occasionally "pretty clean" person to an actual clean person. Because I do deserve a clean home — one that smells nice, is nice to be in. One that keeps me healthy and that doesn't stress me out. And so do you. So next time you grumble to yourself about sticking to a cleaning schedule, put things in perspective. You don't have to clean your house because that's what you're supposed to do. You should have a clean house because you deserve to live in a clean home.
9. Comparing your home to someone else's takes away from authentically creating yours
There's certainly something to be said about absorbing inspiration from as many sources as you can find. But comparing your home to others in a jealous, why-can't-I-have that sort of way just takes away from the energy of discovering what it is that you love. What it is that makes a home a home to you. Comparing yourself to others can lead to buying things that you'd never normally buy. You've got to step away from scrolling through people's Instagram accounts and focus more on creating spaces you'd want to Instagram.
So what home truths do you most forget? Remember? What would you add to the list?
- Re-edited from a post originally published 8.3.2014 - CM
(Image credits: Bethany Nauert; Alexis Buryk; Lizzie Ford; Rebecca Bond; Breanne Johnsen; Jacqueline Marque; Carolyn Purnell)