Monday, February 11, 2013

Design Tips: Making a House a Home – Five Comforting Ideas


A house is just a building with walls, a roof, and a floor. If you read the real estate ads in the paper, you can see the features that most people look for. At least one bathroom, maybe a fireplace…

What makes a house a home? It’s not the gleaming hardwood floors or the granite counter tops. It’s the personal patina acquired through time. The quirks, the scents, the colors, the scars of the kids’ toys, the wear on the door where Mom opens the knob with the keys always in her hand. 

If you move into a different house, that patina is somebody else’s. It may not even exist if the house is brand new. Houses don't become your home until you live in it. And, sometimes, even if someone’s lived in it, a house still feels a little cold without some sort of personal expression.

Objects with a sense of history or that tell a story make a house feel like home. Here are some ways to create a lived-in, comfortable homey feeling… fast, without the wait!

1. Break out the pictures! Create a clever array of heirloom family photos in the hall or stairway. Borrow favorites from older family members and scan them digitally or get reprints made.
Reprints also make a great gift idea for other family members. It’s just as easy to get four made as it is one. Scour secondhand shops for interesting used frames. For a cohesive collage, pick out different types of frames that are the same color or paint them. Black, white or metallic frames are usually pretty easy to find.

2. Childhood memories. Wondering what to do with that favorite blanket, toy or piece of furniture from childhood? Display it proudly! Clean and repair it so it’s not completely falling apart or dangerous. Some wear is charming.

For furniture, you can paint in an updated color and use in a play or guest room. If you like the color, a clear coat will protect from further wear. Child size dressers, chairs or desks can make charming nightstands if they’re a good size. Old toys make great Christmas decorations or accessories, even in an adult guestroom.

3. Vintage hand-me-downs. Even if your décor is the sleekest, cleanest modern metal and straight lines, an antique trunk, table or chair provides contrast and interest, as well as tells a story. Celebrate the shape and repaint in a color that better matches your scheme, or add accessories that match the antique to help blend the look.

4. Home cooking and hardware. Hand-me-down kitchen utensils, pots and pans, old recipes and cookbooks are heart- and home-warming connections to your past. A token plate from your aunt's collection makes a nice focal point on a set of shelves, too.

Granny’s cast-iron skillet was an integral part of her kitchen, she used it every single day for at least one meal. I did not inherit that skillet, though I bought a used one that reminds me of her.

Raid your Mom’s or Grandma’s recipe file for your favorite dishes. Scan the card, food drips and stains and all, enlarge it, frame and hang in your kitchen or pantry.

Likewise, my Dad’s workbench is a treasure trove of memories. To this day I hoard tools, nuts and bolts because they remind me of building things with him. Instead of colored marbles, I fill clear glass vases with rusty washers and bolts.


5. Books. Lots of books! No home feels lived in to me without lots of different books. I love the texture, richness and smell of old books. Books make great gifts to give and to get. Each tells not only the story written within, but of people and places where I found the book in the first place.

I put the prettiest books in the public places in my house. I love beautiful coffee table books and leather-bound literature. I don't mind a messier look with books. To me a wall of books all white, reddish or brown spines look too contrived, too set up, not like a library where you’re free to pull something off the shelf.

Until next time!
Elaine Bothe

Photo of sofa and photo collage courtesy of Pottery Barn. Sofa is from their Holbrook Seagrass collection. Photo of living room with books and kitchen shelving is courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens' website.


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posted by Jennifer Adams Design Group Blog @ 12:01 AM 

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