It always takes me a while to really feel at home in a new place that I’ve moved into. Even once the moving boxes are unpacked and the fridge and pantry are stocked with food, there’s still a feeling of newness that precludes a true sense of comfort. Sometimes, this feeling persists weeks and months after moving day. Other times, it never dissipates at all.
There’s a big difference between living in a place that you simply rely on for provisions of necessity like a bed and a bathroom and living in a place that you really feel at home in. This is especially true in rentals. It can be difficult to establish yourself somewhere that you know you won’t be in for more than a year or two, or somewhere that is a far cry from your own taste or style. But a sense of home is all about perception, and regardless of the surrounding factors, it is possible to cultivate true warmth and personality no matter where you’re living.
“Hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish term that has recently gained popularity here in the U.S. It refers to feelings of coziness and charm, and a sort of pleasant comfort that comes with certain atmospheres or situations. Figuring out how to make your house feel like home is, more than anything, about figuring out how to make your home cozy. Only you know what truly makes you feel warm, safe, and happy, but brainstorming on what those things are and then coming up with ways to incorporate them into your house or apartment is the first step toward nurturing a sense of home. Here are some ideas to get you started.
I’m always surprised by my friends who hang art as soon as they move into a new place. I say this as someone who has lived in her current home for over a year and a half and still has a dozen or so waiting-to-be-dealt-with framed prints and paintings leaning against a wall in the spare bedroom. But there are some real advantages to taking the former route and adorning your walls with art sooner rather than later.
Research shows that simply looking at art can reduce stress and make you happy. And aside from the fact that we get a big boost of pleasure from looking at things that we consider to be beautiful, hanging art in your house helps instill your individual personality and interests into space. Even I, an art-hanging-procrastinator from way back, always make sure to hang a few select pieces immediately upon move-in, namely any paintings my mom has done for me and an abstract ink drawing of the solar system my husband drew me when we first started dating. The more you surround yourself with things that make you feel good, the more you’ll capture that feeling of home.
Display items that remind you of your childhood home
For most of us, our childhood house or apartment stands as the epitome of what “home” really is – it’s where we first felt safe and loved. You can never fully recreate the feeling of your childhood home, but you can keep a few items that remind you of its close by. It might be a special piece of furniture, the music box from your old bedroom, or even a few dating board games. These things carry with them the warming energy of where they came from, and they have a unique ability to exude comfort upon sight. Pick a few things that hold that sense of childhood warmth for you, and incorporate them into your space for tried-and-true feelings of home no matter where you’re living.
Keep it clean
Do you know how bed always feels the best when you’re climbing into freshly washed sheets? That’s because it’s extremely difficult to be completely comfortable in a place that’s dirty and/or filled with clutter. If you’re trying to figure out how to make a home cozy, you need to start with making it clean. Your physical space is an expression of the way you feel, and if you want to feel truly relaxed and at home, you should make an effort to keep your space worthy of snuggling into. Regularly wash your sheets and towels, keep your floors and other surfaces clean, and make it a habit to clear the clutter before it gets out of hand.
Adopt a pet
Home is where the love is, and there’s no easier way to get a big surge of love than to adopt a pet from your local shelter. Animals make us happier and healthier, and the basic act of petting a dog’s back or tickling a kitty’s chin can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and provide us with a strong sense of social support. And though taking care of a pet can certainly be a lot of responsibility, there are few things that make a house feel more like a home than being greeted by someone who is immensely excited to see you when you walk through the front door. If you have the time, money, and desire to take on the care of an animal, consider making the leap.
Surround yourself in softness
In my last apartment, I had an old, scratchy couch bought secondhand from a thrift store. It was clean and sufficient for its purpose, but it wasn’t until I bought some super soft throw blankets to adorn it that it became my (and my dog’s) favorite place to nap and relax. A cozy blanket can go a long way toward making any space more peaceful and inviting, and it’s easy to find a snuggle-worthy throw at any budget. Look into purchasing a weighted blanket if you suffer from anxiety or stress. These popular bedding accessories place a gentle amount of pressure on your body to make you feel calmer and increase relaxation.
Just like art and animals, plants and flowers are well-recognized for their ability to positively impact our mood and reduce stress, among other things. There is an innate sense of hygge in nature, and we can foster that in our own homes by introducing greenery and fresh blooms into our space. If you don’t have the green thumb to take on something like a ficus or an orchid, don’t fret – there are plenty of less fussy houseplants that even the most serial of plant killers can rely on for sustainable nature in their homes. Pot herbs in mason jars in front of your kitchen window, buy fresh flowers for yourself every week and display them on your dining room table, or pick out one of the many low-maintenance houseplants that are hearty enough to survive the days (or weeks) at a time you forget to water.
Add extra light
Few things make a house feel less inviting than insufficient lighting, or worse, fluorescent lighting. Make sure your existing lighting fixtures emit warm temperature shades of white or yellow, which promote relaxation. Then add additional lighting as appropriate. Pretty much any space can be made instantly more homey with the introduction of some well-placed lamps, string lights, or a battery-powered flameless candle in a lantern. If you can, install dimmers so that you’re able to adjust the strength of the lighting in a room based on your mood and the time of day. Candles, too, will add a nice amount of warmth and coziness to space – just be sure to extinguish flames when you leave a room.
Bring the spa home
If you want your home to feel cozy and relaxing, take some inspiration from a place that’s specially designed to make you feel as comfortable as possible: the spa. Aromatherapy diffusers, candles, gentle lighting, trickling fountains, and other spa-specific details can all be incorporated into your own home for a quick dose of homey-ness. Do it right and you may never even want to leave.
A house or apartment should be more than just a place to crash at the end of the day. Simple design details can capture feelings of warmth and pass those feelings on to you whenever you’re in the space. Whether you’re in a dorm, a rental, or still settling into a newly purchased house, choose to surround yourself with the things that, above all else, make you feel good. The more things you have around you that make you feel happy, the more likely you are to instill a strong and sustainable atmosphere of hygge and make your house feel like home.