When you first move into a new house, it’s only natural to want to put your personal stamp on the space — after all, unless you built your dream home, it’s likely that the finishes, fixtures and paint colours were chosen according to the previous owner’s taste. So where to begin? Here are 20 projects, both small and large, that should help make your house feel like home.
1. Paint the front door. It’s far less commitment than painting the exterior and has more bang for the buck. While you’re choosing a paint color, consider whether you want to update the hardware as well — shiny new hardware can give your home a fresh look, and you can change the locks at the same time (always a good idea when you buy a house), so it’s a win-win.
2. Hang personal photos. Getting a few favourite photos up on the wall is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make a new place feel like home, so don’t put it off. If you’re concerned about putting holes in the walls before you know for sure where everything will go, pick up some removable picture-hanging strips to use instead of nails.
3. Change the kitchen faucet. If the faucet in your kitchen has seen better days, consider swapping it out for a sleek new one. This one simple change can make a big impact on how your kitchen feels overall, yet costs relatively little. Just be sure to coordinate it with the existing hardware — or swap the hardware at the same time for a bigger change.
4. Paint a wall or two. Picking colours for your whole house can be a daunting prospect. Save yourself some trouble and just commit to painting an accent wall or two now. Getting colour on the walls will make your place feel more like you and can help determine the rest of your home’s palette.
5. Buy fresh flowers. A bouquet of freshly cut flowers, whether from the grocery store or your backyard, can instantly make any room feel friendlier. Make a single arrangement go further by pulling out a few single blooms to display in bud vases around the house.
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6. Wallpaper the powder room. Up for a bigger project? A fun statement wallpaper can really put your stamp on the powder room or bath. A less-used space like this is a great place to experiment with bold patterns and colour. Just be aware that if you wallpaper a full bath (with a shower or tub), rather than just a powder room, you should choose a product that can withstand the humidity and avoid wallpapering in the “splash zone.”
7. Roll out a fluffy rug. Even if you generally prefer bare floors, having at least one space with a sink-your-toes-in squishy rug makes a house feel ultracomfortable. If you’re concerned about keeping a shag or deep-pile rug clean, put it in a room away from entrances and heavy foot traffic — a bedroom or den is ideal.
8. Clean from top to bottom. Tap into the power of scent by using great-smelling natural products to thoroughly scrub your new home. It may sound a bit strange, but when your home begins to smell familiar, it’ll feel more like home — so you may as well do what you can to speed that process along!
9. Put up wall hooks. Having hooks right where you need them can make all the difference when it comes to staying organized and keeping your home tidy. Pay attention to where you and your family members tend to drop things, then add a row of hooks there — the entry hall, bathroom and bedrooms are good candidates for wall hooks.
10. Switch out a light fixture. Swapping a stylish light you love for a boring or outdated one can make a room feel new. And if there’s a space that could use an overhead fixture where none exists, pay an electrician to install one — why live with an inconvenience when you can fix it? The expense is worth it if it’ll make your daily life easier and more pleasant for years to come.
11. Give stairs a special treatment. Paint them a crisp white, then add shades of a single colour to the treads; or add numbers, words or wallpaper to the risers. If you have a carpeted staircase, update it with a fresh runner.
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12. Make a place for your keys. Save time on your way out the door by designating a spot for keys and other important items. Install a row of small hooks, or use a tray or dish; just make it convenient and use it consistently.
13. Upgrade window treatments. Whether you go for tailored Roman blinds or textured bamboo, simple roller shades or a layered look with curtains, having a window treatment you love (and that works) is a decorating detail that can make a space feel more polished. When selecting window treatments, choose the same liner fabric on all windows for a consistent look from the street.
14. Hang a large-scale piece of art. One great piece of artwork can create a focal point and enliven an entire room. It doesn’t need to be a priceless item, as long as it speaks to you. Seek out galleries that feature up-and-coming artists, or attend student shows at a local art school, to find reasonably priced works.
15. Tuck plants into unexpected spaces. Plants add personality and color, freshen the air — and they look great in any room. Large houseplants and potted trees are wonderful, but also try placing little pots of cacti, succulents or ferns among the bottles on a bar cart, on the bathroom sink or on open shelving in the kitchen.
16. Create a special spot for little ones. Give young children a secret hideaway or comfy area to curl up with a favorite storybook. Just about anywhere can become a cozy nook — just add a few squashy pillows, a snuggly throw and a basket of books.
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17. Customize the storage. Having the right sort of storage, in the right place, is key: Get that right, and daily life suddenly becomes much easier. Take the time to plan out where you need shelving or cabinetry, and outfit your closets with storage systems to make the most of your space (this is especially important in small spaces).
18. Upgrade bathroom details. Can’t take on a full bathroom remodel? That doesn’t mean you can’t freshen up the bath with a few smaller swaps. Change the faucets, cabinet hardware, towel bars and light fixture, and replace an old medicine cabinet with a mirror.
19. Offer cozy comforts. A throw to snuggle under, a tea tray ready for last-minute guests, candles, fresh flowers and plenty of lamps — these little things are often what make a house feel like a comfortable, welcoming home.
20. Add a fun outdoor feature. Think fire pit, hammock, alfresco dining table or barbecue area — something that will entice family and friends to venture out. When sprucing up your outdoor room, remember to provide enough shade for sunny days and to maximize privacy, if that’s a concern.
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