Apartment Therapy is all about improving your home and making it a better place to live, so it's very bold of me to use a superlative here. Of course, as we say, nothing you do for your home is ever wasted, but over the years I have found that there are a few things that are especially transformative—things that go beyond decorating to the very core of what makes you happy at home.
1. Add Art That You Feel Strongly About
There's a reason people use hanging things on the walls as the mark of having really moved into a space. It's art that gives a home its soul, a certain indefinable quality that sets it apart from other places. I say art that you 'feel strongly about,' and I've left that open-ended on purpose: the right art for your space is anything that makes you feel deeply, whether it's a vintage wall hanging from a thrift store that caught your eye and held it, a painting that your grandmother made, or a blown-up photo from your last vacation.
2. Splurge on that One Big Piece of "Adult" Furniture You've Always Wanted
If you're still holding on to an old futon, or an ancient, funky-colored hand-me-down couch, replacing it with a new piece you really love (or an old piece you really love!) can completely transform the look of the room. Don't feel like you have to replace everything at once, or match your new purchase with other spendy things. If you have one really great-looking, high-quality piece, like a sofa or an area rug, everything else will kind of fall into place around it.
3. Do a Really Deep Clean (& Declutter)
A house that's really, truly clean doesn't just look cleaner—it feels cleaner. There's a certain lightness to the air that comes from rooting out all the gunk. If you're not one of those people who gets inspired by the idea of spending a weekend deep-cleaning your home, consider hiring a cleaning service. I personally hate the idea of paying someone else to clean my house when I could do it myself. But the thing is, I don't do it myself. Before I sold my old house, I paid a cleaning service to do a move-out clean. A very nice, professional lady came over and scoured the whole place, top to bottom, in about three hours. I had never seen my house that clean—and it made me wish I had done it on the regular (say, twice a year) the whole time I lived there. (In addition, a yearly or twice-yearly mega decluttering is never underrated.)
4. Share Your Home with a Furry Friend
I realized, when writing a tribute to my departed feline friend, Chloe, that one of the things I missed the most about having a cat was how warm and joyous my house felt with her around. I realize that pets aren't for everyone, but for those of us who do incline towards the animal lover side of the spectrum, I would say that, even though having pets at home is a bit more work, it is totally worth it. (If you need more convincing, you can read Dabney's Top 10 Reasons to Live with a Dog here.)
5. Fill it with People you Love
Of course, it's wonderful to have a really beautiful home, but I've always found, in the past, that the thing that made me love my home the most was sharing it with other people. Having people over—whether you're hosting a big party or just inviting a friend over for dinner—will create memories in your home that enliven the space for years to come.
Re-edited from a post originally published 3.20.15-NT