Making a House a Home

I have lived many places in my adult life in five different states including Wisconsin, my home state. Whether it was a small house in the Rio Grande Valley, apartments, good old Milwaukee bungalow duplexes or, in the last 17 years since marrying Tom, snug houses of our own, the question was always, how do I make this place a home?

A friend told me that our home feels warm and welcoming. I hope that’s true, because that’s exactly what I want people to feel. Whether it’s makeshift furniture or a room of nice, new furniture, I think it’s possible to make almost any place feel homey.

Back when I was a single parent and didn’t have much  to work with, I had a few things that moved with me—a very used piano, lots of good books (even though the bookcases were far from beautiful), a well-used but comfortable couch with the ever-present afghan on the back , a rocking chair my mom bought me and a couple of serviceable lamps and end tables. I got a nice pendulum clock for the wall one Christmas as a gift, and that added a homey touch.

I have never had much of a sense of decorating style. Years ago, I had a friend with a magazine house in the Washington Highlands of Wauwatosa. She was so gifted in decorating that it took my breath away. She made her home feel cozy and comfortable at the same time. She had the knack of re-doing old furniture with paints, and she would sometimes sell these lovely tables and chairs at special sales. When she threw a wedding shower for me back in 1995, her table settings alone were so beautiful.

That sure isn’t my gift, but I try to make my home cozy in my own way. One of my favorite pieces of furniture is my round end table with shelves for favorite books. It polishes up beautifully (on the rare occasions that that happens!), and it invites anyone who is so inclined to pick up some of my (somewhat motley) books I’ve collected over the years from used bookshops.

One thing I determined early on was that I didn’t want TV’s in an obvious place. I wanted my children to see books around them instead. I personally find it a little sad that where a mantel clock once would have taken pride of place, it is the current trend to attach massive flat screen TV’s over the fireplaces in living rooms. Everybody has their own views and preferences, but I wanted to encourage reading, so I put bookshelves in my living room instead.

But the truth is, children don’t have a clue what quality the furniture is, or how worn the couch is. If you take the time to snuggle up with them with a book to read, all they know is the love and security they feel. The little things you add to a room are really small extras. What children will remember is the time you spent with them.

Making a home feel homey starts with the people in it, really. All the cozy, charming accessories and furniture won’t mean a thing if the atmosphere in a home is full of tension and conflict. It’s the love and care our families feel that can make even a poorly constructed apartment feel like a little bit of heaven.

Home is a place in our hearts. I want my children to carry with them out into an often bleak world memories of a warm, safe place where they were loved unconditionally and prayed for and taught the things about life that matter most. If I accomplish that, I will feel like I did my homemaking job well.

10 thoughts on “Making a House a Home

  1. Cheryl says:

    I love this post! (Would you mind if I linked to it on my blog Thinking About Home sometime soon?)

    I agree with you that “making a home feel homey starts with the people in it.” Well said.

  2. Christina says:

    Great post! There seems to always be something that bothers me when I walk into our home. Granted, we moved in 2 yrs ago and are still adding and changing things. I want it to feel like home. Cozy, warm and inviting. I think once I added a piano, rugs and pictures it seemed to come together. I love to snuggle on the couch with a good book so we have two really big bookshelves within reach of a nice lamp and the couch!
    Ingrid, your home is so cozy and warm! I love the kitchen. And I notice that you have that nice curio cabinet by your piano….I bet Emmy would love to get her hands on those items! ;p

  3. Sam says:

    I have to say, you succeeded. I always have happy memories of the places we lived, regardless of whether or not we stayed there for a long time.

    I agree that it’s love that makes a house a home. Our apartment isn’t much, and the decorating skews more “eclectic” (haha), but it is cozy and I love coming home to it—and my beautiful wife who makes it what it is.

  4. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    And my grandson (7 weeks and he’s here!) will be the blessed recipient of all the love you and Laura have. He is already blessed.

  5. Lori Glass says:

    My father-in-law died in Feb and my mother-in-law,Lyndal, is moving to town. So what makes a house a home has been on our minds lately. The farm house no longer feels like home to Lyndal without Bill there. Just this week my husband said the nicest thing, that his house was just a house until we got married and I made it a home.

  6. Margaret L. Been says:

    I love this post, Ingrid, and agree so heartily! I just posted something on the same basic idea.

    In web browsing I came across what seems to be a delightful website called “Experimental Wifery”. Very old fashioned and down to earth!

  7. Margaret L. Been says:

    Hey, Ingrid. Oooops! I just went back to the Experimental Wifery site and although it’s totally delightful in most areas, I can’t endorse the whole bit for “open discussion”. I don’t want to mislead! 🙂

  8. Deanna says:

    I came over from Cheryl’s blog and I have to say I’m glad I did.

    I agree with you! It’s not the things in a home but the people and the atmosphere of the home that make it appealing and warm and welcoming!


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