House Beautiful

Does the home you've created support the life you want to live?

Photo by Jorge Garcia on Unsplash

You don't need to add on a master suite or put in a swimming pool to make your home more supportive of the lifestyle you want.  Instead, figure out what bothers you, and use your creativity to improve it.

Does your entrance hall depress you with its constant disorder?

The front hall plays a key role in the feelings you have about your home, so make it attractive and functional.

Paint the door a color you love.  If your doormat has seen better days, replace it.

Lighten the space with a mirror.  A narrow table or waist-level shelf can hold a tray for keys or outgoing mail, as well as a favorite plant.  Place a small bench or stool underneath which can be pulled out when you need to deal with your shoes.  Remove all other furniture.

Declutter extraneous outerwear, and make sure the front closet is clutter-free so there's plenty of room to hang the coats and scarves you actually use.  Put up heavy-duty hooks for backpacks.  Place a large basket or storage cubby on the floor of the closet for outdoor shoes.

Do you hate your kitchen?

First of all, declutter.  Clutter is not attractive, it's not convenient, and it's not hygienic.

Start by getting rid of duplicate utensils, unused gadgets, expired foods, and stale spices.  Donate the third set of dishes (remember that the ones you use all the time are obviously the ones you like), half of the mugs, and serving pieces you never use.  Clear off the refrigerator -- put a magnetic board inside a cupboard door and hang only current cards, notes, photos, or kids' artwork.

Decluttered spaces look better and function better.  They're roomier.  They're calmer.  How do you feel about your kitchen now?

If you'd still like an update, consider some of these DIY ideas:

  • Paint the walls.
  • Hang art.
  • Paint the cabinets.  White is clean, updated, yet timeless.
  • Remove a couple of cabinet doors to create open shelving.
  • Replace cabinet hardware.
  • Add roll-out shelves to one or two base cabinets.
  • Replace light fixtures.
  • Replace the faucet.
  • Remodel the backsplash.

Do you hate your bathroom?

You know what I'm going to say -- declutter!  Get rid of all the tried-it-and-didn't-like-it lotions, soaps, shampoos, and makeup.  Get the candles and figurines and other doodads off the counter.  Take your frayed and stained towels to an animal shelter.

If you'd still like an update, consider these (mostly) DIY ideas:

  • Paint.
  • Hang art.
  • Replace cabinet hardware.
  • Replace light fixtures.
  • Replace the faucet.
  • Frame or replace your builder-grade vanity mirror.
  • Replace the showerhead.
  • Replace the flooring (in such a small space the cost is minimized).

Do you wish you had a kid-friendly space separate from the adults' living area?

Instead of putting two children in separate bedrooms, have them share one and use the other as a play room.  Kids usually love a bunk bed; you can put the younger child in the lower bunk, or if they're both school-age, put the older child down below and add a tension rod with a curtain to make a private nook.

If the children are the same gender, they can continue to share a room throughout high school.  The play room can morph into a room for crafting, building models, playing video games, or doing homework.

Alternatively, create another space for adults to relax while the kids play or watch videos in the living room.  A sitting area in your bedroom can feel luxurious.  A pair of chairs or a loveseat, a table, and a lamp can make a quiet nook you'll both enjoy.

Does your home feel dark and dispiriting?

Studies show that exposure to natural light, especially in the morning, improves mood, sleep quality, and general well-being.  So how can you bring more light into your home?

Clean the windows and remove clutter from the sills.  Hang curtains on a rod that extends beyond the window frame so they pull completely away from the window when open.  This allows for maximum daylight.

Pale walls and ceilings will make rooms feel more spacious, and a satin or semi-gloss finish will reflect light.

Mirrors can double your daylight.  Hang one opposite a sunny window, or place one strategically to reflect light down a dark hallway.

Are your trees overgrown?  While a mature tree is a wonderful asset, professional trimming may be necessary.  By pruning limbs that crowd the roof, and thinning branches to create an airier canopy, sun exposure and air circulation can be improved.  

Do you live in an apartment but long for a garden oasis?

Enjoy beautiful indoor plants which purify the air, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure.  A peace lily, golden pothos, philodendron, or sansevieria (also called mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant) will thrive even in a less-than-bright room.  A ficus tree, rubber plant, Boston fern, or flowering kalanchoe will appreciate a sunnier spot.

Do you have a balcony?  You can create a mini garden even in the city.  A fragrant climber such as jasmine can cover a trellis or fence and provide privacy as well as greenery.  Herbs like rosemary, mint, basil, and lemon balm do well in containers or even a window box.  I love growing miniature roses in containers; they are profuse bloomers in a sunny spot.  A miniature lemon tree, whose blossoms exude a heavenly scent, can have a long fruiting season if you look after it carefully.  Add a couple of chairs and a petite table, and hang a string of lights so you can linger in your garden after dark.

You can make your current house more like your dream home.


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