My top 7 tips for making your house a home

In my clean out FRENZY this past week I have also had a serious case of the Suzie Homemakers…I have been cleaning walls and floors, cupboards and rearranging existing furniture and moving paintings around. So satisfying! And a change is as good as a holiday I reckon so perhaps this weekend you can have a little move around and re-shuffle. Here are my go-to tips for helping turn your house into a warm and comfy home…they are my go-to’s time and time again for turning any space into something “homely”. And the best bit? It doesn’t cost much to do it. It can be depressing looking at the cost of new stuff…have a look at what you have and use that – take that throw from the cupboard and whack it on the bed or couch and use that as the basis of a room makeover. That was my key discovery from last weekend…only using what we HAD. Who needs more “stuff”? Not me after delivering stuff for donation all week!

So here are my top 7 tips that I have been using for many years, taught to me by my Mum! (This post was originally posted last year).

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My Mum has taught me many skills over the course of my life. To cook and effortlessly feed many people. To laugh at myself. To work hard. The joys of a good gin and tonic. A well made bed. To love fiercely and loyally. And to make a house a home. Wherever we have lived (with no money, or sometimes some money) she managed to make our houses into homes where people wanted to be. You felt comfortable in the spaces. People would always comment to my Mum about our house – wherever that house may have been – about how it always felt like home. And it’s something that people in turn have always said to me.

After spending last weekend moving Mum out of one house in Sydney down to another just 25 minutes away in the Highlands I know that she does have a knack and she has done it again creating another beautiful home for the next phase of their life. My sister and I helped her do it – I like to think that that “knack” has been passed onto us and hopefully onto my girls one day. They themselves like a good re-arrange and movement of their bits in their rooms so I know they will be able to do it too one day.

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I don’t know the exact science of it, or whether it’s a science at all. I do know that when someone has the knack you know it right away. Their homes feel like home. They are warm and inviting, you want to live in the space, settle in for some time. I have many friends who have this in their own homes and I have been thinking about just what some of the key elements to turning a house into a home. I have people email and comment to me often about how to do it so I thought I would have a crack at what I do, what my Mum and some friends do that seem to be able to do this. You could try some of them too – this very weekend!

There are some main elements that will turn ANY room into a homely space. I reckon your MUST haves are:

1.  Rugs
2. Artwork
3. Lamps
4. Flowers or indoor plants or some greenery

All of these items together will draw a space together. You can pick up colours or textures or patterns through them to connect a space AND it will just instantly make a space feel lived in. A rug will anchor the floor or define a space. Artwork (or something) on the wall will do the same for the walls. Lamp light or candles makes a space cosy and intimate and greenery/flowers bring some of the outdoors in. Use this combo in ANY space and it will instantly feel more like home…inside or outside. Promise.

1. POTTED COLOUR AROUND THE HOUSE

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Growing up my Mum would always have some potted colour around the house. Whether it’s a window box or pots near your doorways they make an entranceway feel like someone cares. They don’t have to be expensive buxus topiaries either – I get little pots of colour from a nursery or even supermarket (our fruitshop sells them too) usually 5 for $10 or something like that. Plant them en masse or mix them up with bigger pots for a wonderful decoration OUTSIDE the house. I’ve got a mixture of all kinds of pots and while they do take some effort with the watering, herbs or fruit trees or flowers or shrubs will soften the outside of any house. Bring those pots INSIDE too – succulents look amazing inside on a bench or up against some collectibles you may have arranged in a bookcase or sideboard. Now is a good time to think about bulbs for Spring – why not plant some into some big pots or containers now ready for later in the year – you can plant them into dishes, pots – whatever!

2. CUSHIONS

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I swear you get to a certain age where you stop caring so much about clothes and shoes and start getting more interested in soft furnishings and bed linens. I can’t be sure exactly when it happens, but there most definitely comes a time when 1200 thread count sheets on sale will have you adding to cart quicker than a pair of shoes. Cushions will ALWAYS make you feel like you have given your home a little facelift. And you don’t have to spend a fortune. Ikea, target, Kmart, Spotlight all have great options  and you can mix and match as the seasons pass. Swap the covers over, move them from room to room, and have fun. I mix as many patterns and textures as I can too – don’t have matchy matchy – get creative and have fun.

3. BOWLS OF FRUIT OR WHATEVER

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Really Beth? Yes really. Anything en masse in a bowl or in various bowls on a bench top ABUNDANCE makes a room feel like home. This can be fruit in a bowl (cheap and easy ways) greenery from trees outside (or autumn foliage) piles of fire wood or sticks or candles or wooden spoons in a jar or ANYTHING you want grouped together in a big pile just looks good. I don’t know why, I just do it and I love it. When my kitchen bench is overflowing with flowers and fruits, herbs and flowers and greenery it just always looks gorgeous. You know when you look at magazines and everything looks fab? Those overflowing Country Style shoots? They have bought in ALL OF THE THINGS. From all the rooms, into the one space. More is more (sorry minimalists) for a lived in look.

4. ARTWORK

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While it would be nice to have an unlimited budget to have amazing art on the walls, it’s not really going to happen so think creatively about stuff on your walls. Prints do the trick. Why not have a crack at your own canvas? Plates on a wall? Controversial but it works. Tapestries. Sculptures. Weavings. Photos. Magazine cuts outs. Cheap frames with anything in them. Gallery walls. I use the girls artwork a LOT in our house, sure it looks like the rainbow has vomited everywhere most of the time, but I think it works.

5. FLOWERS AND GREENERY EVERYWHERE

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Not everyone has a garden filled with flowers to cut (not even me) but I will always have fresh flowers if I can. Every trip to the fruit shop will see me with a bunch. When my garden is a little light on I use trees and shrubs – any kind of greenery does the trick. Become friends with people who have beautiful gardens and they will always share their goods with you – help someone out who has a garden. Raid friends gardens that have plants there that they won’t even miss. Cut it. Whack it in a vase. Group different things together and just GO FOR IT.

6. RUGS AND THROWS

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I have rugs all through our house. All different kinds and sizes, styles and textures – some fancy mostly cheap – but they all create and define spaces, help tie colour themes together and of course provide warmth and softness underfoot. Mix them up – move them around often – and don’t be scared to clash. Clash is good! Make sure they don’t slip though – that is the work of the devil and for some a little anal. Monk like and OTT like me, a good quality non slip matt will save your sanity. In the cooler months I have lots of different rugs and throws around the place that not only add layers of texture to a room or space they are practical and get used. Perfect home makers.

7. GET THE GOOD STUFF OUT

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Do you have cupboards filled with all your “good stuff” like the stuff from weddings that get used for “special occasions”. Get it out! Use it! Every day life is for the good stuff. I have a whole heap of stuff from my Grandmothers and now Mum’s place that I love to have out and use. Things with history that have stories, will only add to the story of YOUR home.

What do you think makes a house a home?
What are on your list of essentials?
Are you a Suzie home maker like me? I LOVE this shit. Always have, always will.

Comments

  1. Oh Beth. I just love this post. I’ll be saving the shit out of it and refer back to it often. I grew up in a house of 8 kids, the youngest 2 adopted who both have intellectual disabilities, we had so many foster babies as well. But our house never felt like a home. It always felt uncomfortable and really boring, no life to it, despite lots of people. My mum, bless her heart, had many gifts but making a house feel like a home wasn’t one of them. I desire so much to make a home for my kids and am somewhat ok at it, I struggle to know how but these tips are awesome. Love your work xx

  2. I was only looking at my home the other day and wondering how I could make it more inviting. I took photos from different angles and decided to start from there. Thank you for this post of tips. I’ll keep all these ideas in mind while I pretty up my living spaces

  3. I’m such a big fan of getting the good stuff out. When we were kids my parents rarely got out the crystal or China but they do now!! As for a house becoming a home, I think it’s the inhabitants and how they use the space that makes it perfect! x

  4. What a great post. And a good reminder! I’ve been going minimalist as our house is small and the kids are growing and space is at a premium. I’ve found our optimal furniture positions and its been sitting this way for YEARS and I’m so tired and bored of our home. I could definitely get some greenery though and spruce up the place with a little life. A good reminder Beth.

  5. yes love it beth! … you have the aesthetic gene and so do I!
    I love your mother’s photos on her Instagram feed too!
    i love foofing! … always changing the spaces!
    i was nearly going to be a visual merchandiser but i did fine art instead!
    much love m:)X

  6. Melissa Wright says:

    Love your post, I love nothing better then fluffing around at home cleaning and rearranging. I have 2 teenagers who play a lot of sport and I coach basketball and work 4 days a week, we’re always running around being too busy during the week, so on the weekends we try to recoup and relax. We moved to the country 6 years ago and our house feels like a home, we’ve put a lot of effort into the house and garden, the kids are great at wheel burrowing much to their disgust! I think they really enjoy and appreciate everything we have done as a family and always tend to have friends over here rather then go there. Everything that your mum has I have, which reminds me I need to water the indoor plants and bring some flowers in.
    I look forward to reading more of your posts.
    Cheers, Melissa

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