One of the benefits of simplicity is having more time on your hands. More time to do as you wish – to pursue hobbies or to spend at home with your family. But what if your home is a place you don’t love?
There have been times in my life when my home was a refuge and times in my life where it was the last place I wanted to be. My goal today is to help you learn to love your home more. To hopefully transform your home into a place that you -and your family and friends- see as a peaceful retreat from the hectic world. This list is inspired by Apartment Therapy’s book Complete and Happy Home.
8 Ways to Love Your Home:
- Treat It Right
Fix things right away. This first one is a huge one. One that is much easier said than done. My house is over 100 years old. It has a lot of charm, but let me tell you – it feels like things are always breaking or needing updated. Every house is different, but you can’t really escape the quirks. They all just have different issues. If you own a home or are considering owning a home, don’t forget to consider maintenance as part of the monthly cost of living there. It’s easy to let things slide when they aren’t “urgent” but eventually that list will grow very long – and then it can quickly become too intimidating to tackle. I highly recommend dealing with things as they come up rather than putting them off.
You can save a lot of money by becoming handier around the house. Youtube has taught me how to do everything from insulating an attic to replacing a leaking shower diverter to fixing the heating element in the dryer. Friends have taken the time to teach me how to install light fixtures, and even caulk my own shower! The more you do yourself, the more confidence you’ll have for the next fix. Definitely invest in some basic tools of your own, and of course don’t cut corners when it comes to safety. Better to pay someone than hurt yourself! But in general, I think we should be less timid when it comes to home repairs. Use good judgement, but don’t shy away just because you’ve never done it before.
- Green it Up
Flowers or plants will quickly transform your living space. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy the aesthetic benefits and health benefits of plants. First, I recommend greenery instead of flowers. It generally lasts longer and is easier to care for. Where I live, Ikea sells huge majesty palm trees for about $15. That’s about the cost of one bouquet of flowers for a really big impact that will hopefully last for years! If you aren’t looking for a whole tree, just keep an eye out at the grocery store for cute little plants to fill your windowsills and freshen your air. To learn more about my love of plants, and see specific varieties that I recommend, click here.
- Eat Delicious Meals at Home
Not only is making food at home healthier and money-saving, it also warms up your space and makes it more home-like. Ask anyone what their favorite childhood memories are and I guarantee many of them will revolve around making and eating food at home. Memories are made around turkey and gravy for Thanksgiving, cookies after school, and pancakes on the weekends.
While my family already eats 99.9% of our meals at home, I’d like to create more family traditions around food. More memories. More anticipation. More including the children in the process now that they are older. Almost a year later, my five-year-old still talks about when he made sugar cookies with his friend last Christmas. That’s how big of an impression it left!
I realize that not all “tradition foods” are healthy foods. In general, I’m a day-to-day healthy person. But I’m also learning to recognize that food is allowed to be special too. And the healthier and simpler we eat on a daily basis, the more special a treat is when we do get it. I’m learning to say no to food guilt – especially as it relates to holidays and traditions.
- Turn Up the Ambiance
Fill your home with lovely sounds and smells. Rather than leaving the TV on all day and exposing yourself to constant advertising and loud noises, try a calm Pandora or Spotify station. Music adds depth and life to any space – whether your live alone or with a large family.
For lighting, task lighting is more beautiful and efficient than harsh overhead lights. And more efficient still, is natural light from the windows. I’m not a huge candle person, but I know some people really like candles, especially in the winter, to give their home warm ambiance and light.
As far as smells go, I’m not a fan of artificial fragrances. (Here’s what’s in my minimalist, all-natual cleaning cabinet.) Try diffusing essential oils in your home every now and then – lavender and lemon are my two favorites. We also take time every morning to open the windows to let in fresh air. The air in the house gets quickly musty and polluted. Yes, indoor pollution is worse than outdoor pollution so it helps to air your home out frequently. I also love the smell of fresh bread, homemade apple butter, and the scent of coffee brewing. There’s no need to cover up the scents of your home if they are delicious, mouth-watering scents from the start.
- Appreciate Its Uniqueness
Embrace the quirks that give your home character and charm. My house isn’t “standard” in any sense of the word. Everything we fix or order has to be custom-made. This is a bit more hassle, but we can choose to either fight it or embrace it.
Ultimately, the things that make your home unique are also the things that make it special. And the good news is that if you ever sell your home, buyers are often interested in these same unique touches, so don’t neglect or overlook them!
- Don’t Crowd It
Minimalism has transformed my home in so many ways. By simply owning less, I have less to clean, less to organize, less to store. “Store it at the store” is a fun mantra I’ve heard – and it’s certainly cheaper to “store it at the store” than pay for a storage unit if we’re low on space. Too much stuff costs us money and time. There’s no reason to hang on to multiples of things “just in case” when “just in case” doesn’t always happen. And if “just in case” does happen, you can get the thing for under $10.
People often tell me how calm my home makes them feel. I believe this is at least partially due to the fact that I’ve tried not to over-crowd it. No, it’s not always clean. I have two kids! But even with the constant artwork and Legos strewn around the living room, minimalism helps it not feel too chaotic. Everything in my home gets used. If it doesn’t, we pass it on to the next owner. I don’t have a lot of decorations to dust, toys to pick up, or expensive things to worry about preserving. It’s not about looking like a magazine or a board on Pinterest. It’s about creating a space that serves our family well and isn’t trying to impress anyone. I’d say that’s a good goal for any aspiring minimalist.
- Spend Time in It
Slow down. Actually take a bath in your tub, spend time lounging on the front porch, do a workout in that home gym, cook a meal in your gourmet kitchen. One thing I’ve noticed in the US is that we rarely take the time to slow down and spend time in our homes. “The American Dream” may involve working hard to own your own home, but it doesn’t necessarily involve enjoying the home you worked so hard for.
The simple life doesn’t have to be unattainable. It can be as easy as taking 15 minutes in the morning to drink your coffee on the front porch. Working on your home and yard is great, but my goal is to spend more time enjoying it than working on it.
- Share It
Let’s bring hospitality back in style. This is yet another thing that my friends from other countries are better at than me. When I visit the home of a refugee, I rarely call ahead. I often show up with my kids, and am instantly welcomed in. “Sit down, sit down,” my hosts urge me – even if they barely know me. Regardless of how many groceries they have in their cupboard, and regardless of how much I insist I’m fine, they always set food in front of me. Even if we don’t speak each other’s language, we sit and smile at each other in an unhurried way. We find ways to make conversation with as few words as possible. We play with the kids. We play around with Google Translate. We form a connection.
This is my experience with refugees across the board, regardless of whether they are from Iraq, Congo, Burundi, or Syria. I also saw it in the locals when I visited Haiti and Guatemala in recent years. I see “radical” hospitality lived out across the world. Everywhere but the US.
In my opinion, hospitality shouldn’t be considered radial. It should be considered normal. I want to live my life more simply so that I have the time and space to share my life with others. To be unhurried. To be open. To visit and to be visited. By those who are different than me as well as those who are like me.
Many of us silently battle loneliness and depression. Many of us feel a need to be connected to something larger but we don’t know where to begin. Many of us feel a longing for community that we don’t yet have. I’m no expert. I’ve felt these things too. And while I don’t have all the answers, I suggest that it might start with brewing a pot of tea, putting out some fresh flowers, opening up your home – and seeing what happens.
Photography by Jordan Whitt