There’s no place like home. As Dorothy repeated to find her own way home, it’s something I often say to myself upon returning from time away. It’s so true. It’s where you find sanctuary from the world, and where you make memories with your family and friends. It’s where you can let loose and be your most comfortable and these are all the reasons why I feel that the quality of our lives begins at home.
Even with home being such a powerful place for us, we sometimes feel like we wish for something else; like our home isn’t the perfect resting place we dream of.
Most often, the feelings of discontent with our homes stem from added stress due to clutter. When our homes are so full of stuff that it never feels clean and tidy, we don’t find our spaces restful. It becomes a place where we are constantly trying to organize, put away and “work” that we never see it as our own personal retreat from the world like it should.
Another reason why you may find yourself wanting something else is because you haven’t maybe been able to decorate your home to truly make it feel like yours. Sometimes that due to budget constraints or maybe you simply have no idea how to decorate your home or where to begin. If you are anything like me, you may even find yourself looking around and all you see are all the projects you want to start instead of focusing on trying to make the most of what you have right now.
Speaking from experience having fallen into all three categories above, I can honestly say that it doesn’t have to be this way!
Whether you said yes to one of the reasons above or all three like me, you truly can take control of your house and turn it into the dream home you’ve been craving. Without a lot of money or time, you CAN create a home that is warm and welcoming and a true reflection of your lifestyle and your design tastes by filing it with the things that bring you and your family the most joy while meeting all your unique needs.
How to Transform your House into your Dream Home in a Few Simple Steps
The handful of steps below may take some work but I promise anyone can get through them with a little effort.
Define what Roles your Home Plays in your Life
For most families, your home is your family hub – the place you gather for various activities, for rest and sanctuary among other things. For me, my home’s role is this but I also work from home so my home is also my office, my place of business. For others, like friends that homeschool their children, their home also serves as a school.
This may seem silly but I urge you to not overlook this step. Understanding your home’s role in your life will give you a very clear picture of how it will meet all the needs of your family. If you work from home, you may need a desk in a quiet spot so that you can work uninterrupted. Do you spend time doing crafts? If so, you may need a room dedicated to not just working on your crafts but also for storing your craft supplies. Do you work out at home or do you go to a gym?
For some like my brother and sister-in-law, they essentially sleep, shower, dress and eat at home but spend most of their days away from their home at work. For B and I who both work from home, we spend nearly every minute of every day inside the four walls of our home.
Define how you use each space in your home.
Start by clearly defining how you use each space in your home. I keep a notebook for things like this and to help me get my thoughts down quickly but do this however seems the most comfortable for you. Go room by room and take note of all the ways you use each and every space in your home.
B and I lived far from family and friends for several years so when B’s job moved us back to the area where we grew up, we started hosting family dinners once a month to make sure that we were keeping active in the lives of our families. That meant that when we were designing our new kitchen a couple years ago, we really wanted to create a space that allowed for entertaining. We swapped our kitchen and dining rooms so that we could add a large island in our kitchen. Every time our families get together, we all end up gathered in the kitchen without even realizing it so having a large island that we could all gather around was super important.
For the same reason, we also really wanted to have a better connection between our kitchen and family room so while we didn’t want a completely open first floor, making wider openings between these rooms meant anyone in the other rooms didn’t feel secluded from the rest of the group.
I am also a reader and try to read at least a little bit every day. B doesn’t care for reading and instead prefers to watch TV to unwind at night. While we do make a point to spend time enjoying something together most nights, I really needed somewhere to read or watch a movie that maybe B wasn’t into. That’s what ultimately lead us to start our upstairs Den project last year. This secondary hang out space would give us a second, more casual family room perfect for catching a TV show or movie or giving me a quite place to curl up with a book.
Not all households require a secondary hang out space but you may find that you need something different to fit the needs of your family. A dedicated workout room or a play room that contains most of the toys your children play with. There is no right or wrong answer, it all comes down to the way you life and what needs you have.
The key here is to take the time to really [reflect] on how you use each space now and what you find most valuable about your home’s current layout and set up. Then prioritize the activities that are most important to your entire household and determine if the spaces in your home currently reflect these activities. If you find that they don’t then think about what you could do right now, without money or a lot of time to see that your spaces do support your family’s most important activities.
Identify how your home makes you feel.
Once you understand the roles your home needs to play in your family’s lives and the way you use the spaces in your home it’s time to understand how your home currently makes you feel. Think not just about how your home makes you feel right now but also think about how you think it should make you feel.
For example, are you so proud of your home that you just life for when people visit or do you dread it? Does your home stress you out because it doesn’t feel organized? Does your home always feel cluttered and make you anxious or does it make you feel calm and cozy? Do you look around and feel joy because your home fits the style, values and talents of your family or does it feel like it doesn’t fit with the members of your family?
Also consider how you want others to feel when they do come into your home? Do you want it feel formal or casual, calm and relaxed or something else? How do you want to feel when you come into your home each day?
Begin Making Changes to your Spaces to Fit your Family’s Needs
If you’ve realized that certain spaces in your home aren’t working for your family or that you could move rooms around to make the most of your spaces then you’ve done your work. I’m guessing that the answers to the questions above are actually getting your wheels spinning too!
Before you begin moving furniture or swapping spaces from one room to another, you should first take time to purge anything that isn’t used, isn’t wanted or that doesn’t make you or your family happy. While this should apply to every room in your house at all times, it’s especially important now to make sure your home brings you and your family the peace and contentment you are wanting. Why else would you be doing this, right?
It’s OK to really be honest. Remember, while many of us decorate or layout our homes based on how we think we should rather than how we actually use the spaces or want to use the spaces. Do you see how it all comes together?
And with any other project you tackle around your home, don’t try to do it all at once. Life is hectic and if you spend too much time focusing on the overall task you’ll likely get frustrated and never make any progress. Instead tackle a little bit at a time. Maybe spend some time each night for a week decluttering and organizing in one room. Then when you see the results of this one thing, you’ll be more motivated to tackle the next part of the task. It’s truly that easy if you focus and stick with it.
Additional ways to personalize your space into your dream home
Once you have your home set up, organized and laid out in a way that meets your family’s needs, there are even more simple and inexpensive ways you can turn your house into the home you’ve dreamed of.
Sure, knocking down walls, opening up spaces, adding French doors or larger windows or even building on isn’t always in the budget or possible for other reasons but once you know how you will use your spaces, there are ways to make it more like the dream home you have been wanting.
Discover the Magic of Paint
I talk about painting a room, a wall, a piece of furniture, etc. a lot because painting a lot or even just a little can do a long way towards transforming a space. It’s an inexpensive update and with a few simple tools and some time, anyone can do this. It’s my absolute favorite way for making a big impact on the look of any space when you are on a tight budget or short timeframe.
Surrounding yourself with colors you love will lift your spirits and bring you joy because you will love your surroundings more. That’s why we are here, right?
Change out the Light Fixtures
I tend to think of light fixtures similarly to the way I see jewelry or other outfit accessories. An outdated light fixture in a freshly set up room can really bring it down and while lighting can be pretty expensive, there are plenty of options out there to fit any budget if you take the time to do your research.
One thing I love is picking light that is a bit unexpected. Go with your style and what you love but don’t be afraid to have fun.
Upgrade Fixtures and Hardware
Major renovations are expensive but you may be amazed at how much of a change simply upgrading fixtures or hardware can go towards updating and freshening up any space. Maybe you can’t completely renovate your older kitchen but replacing old, outdated hardware can give your kitchen a major upgrade.
Faucets, light switches and even door knobs are also great options when looking for less expensive ways to update your space without the time and expense of a full renovation.
Amp up your Curb Appeal and Outdoor Spaces
Hiring a landscaper to overhaul your yard may not be possible but if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know that with a little effort, sprucing up your yard isn’t that hard or expensive and boy does it go a long way toward helping you love your home!
Our home isn’t in the location we’d call our dream space but the work we’ve put into our back yard over the past couple of summers has given us a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Having a yard you love and can enjoy is the perfect way to welcome yourself home.
Trick Out the Function
Function plays one of the biggest parts in any space working for your family or not. That’s why it’s important to know what roles your home has to play for your family and why you need to take note of the ways you use your home before going any further.
When it comes to function, putting priority on high function places like your main entry or your kitchen will give you a larger return on how you love your home compared to other spaces.
Our mudroom on the back of the house is the way we enter and leave our home. We almost never use either of the front doors or our side door the the porch. Our mudroom was constantly cluttered and that clutter overflowed to our kitchen counters so that’s what first prompted my DIY mudroom bench.
This project wasn’t hard or even expensive but putting in the effort to create an organized space that gave us the perfect drop zone meant coming and going from the house was much less stressful because the clutter was gone. That is also why we added the custom shelf in the pantry for electronics and keys. Making these function spaces work even better for how we live makes us love our home even more and the same can be true for you.
Surround your home with Art and Decor you love
When it comes to decorating, don’t worry as much as keeping within one specific style but instead focus on decorating with things you love. If you aren’t sure what you start, consider placing some family photos around and then slowly fill in with other art and decor as you see fit.
The key is to not feel like you have to do everything all at once. When it comes to decorating your home, allow yourself to layer over time. Your home will better tell your own story and grow and evolve as your family grows and evolves.
Have Fun and Never Stop Dreaming
Nothing about this process should ever feel stressful. On the contrary, it should be fun. Learning about the way you use your home to setting your spaces up in a way that is going to function for your family and then decorating to bring you and your family joy and peace is an enjoyable process that never really ends.
Allow yourself to always dream about things that can be improved, added to or even changed. It’s a process that is never really fully done.
As your family grows, evolves and changes, so will your home. That’s part of your story and one that I hope you embrace as you begin your own journey as you transform your house into your dream home!