Does Your House Feel Like Home?

Oh moving...  I always forget how unsettling you are. 

I'm sitting at the same table I always sit at when I write.  It's the colour of 90% chocolate with worn butterscotch patches from vegetable cutting, elbow leaning and granola making.  I know this table.  I know the feeling of this too hard chair against my thighs, but the room where it stands, the apartment it finds itself in, we're still getting to know one another. 

Everyone is a stranger until you meet them.  The stranger might have a warm smile, smell good and wear great shoes.  Maybe you've exchanged a few words in line at the coffee shop and you happened to notice the blond hairs on his knuckles and the thoughtful lines around his eyes.  You've seen enough to say yes or do the asking out for that first date, but when you sit across from one another for the first time, on purpose, there may still be moments of insecurity.  Tracing lines through the condensation on the outside of your mojitos and examining long lost freckles instead of making eye contact and scintillating conversation. 

I feel the same about my new place.  The first time I walked in I registered the high ceilings, the hardwood floors, the enthusiastic morning glories in the backyard and I said yes.  Now we live together and it's clear that in order to feel at peace, to feel at home, there's more to be done than just saying yes.  We need to figure out how we fit together, my new place and I.  Where the extra arm goes when spooning and whether or not I can sleep through the late night sleep talking, or if I need earplugs to make it to morning. 

How do you make a house, apartment or room, a home?  When does it tip from feeling awkward to ahhh?  What are the little things that make all the difference?

These are the things I have done or will do to stretch out this place to fit me like my favorite pair of boots.

You can do them too, no matter how long you've lived in your place.

  • Set an Intention - Whether it's cleaning or clutter clearing, the process is so much more powerful when you know why you're doing it.  What is your intention for this next chapter in your life?  Where are your priorities?  What's important to you?  How do you want to feel?  What do you really want?
  • Clean it Real Good! - This is best done before you move in, but it can be done at anytime.  By clean, I don't just mean the usual vacuum, toilet scrub, mop.  By clean, I mean clean everything.  Clean the places that don't get cleaned.  The walls, the windows, inside closets, behind the fridge and on top of cupboards.  The dust on the ceiling that has been keeping watch over you while you sleep and the tops and bottoms of the baseboards.  When you clean, you make the place yours.  You put yourself into every wall, every closet, every floorboard.  I know it's a lot of work and you don't have to do it all at once, but it makes a tremendous difference.
  • Paint - If you have the time and the means, nothing makes a place more yours than painting.  The last place I lived was the first place I've painted from top to bottom.  It was amazing what a difference all this work made to how at home I felt when I walked in the door.  Painting is also the best way to put your intention into your space.  There is something very transformative about it.  I love reading Yohanna's blog for inspiration about painting sacred spaces.
  • Unpack - This might sound elemental, but it's amazing how often we leave boxes lying around, sometimes until the next time we move.  From a Feng Shui perspective, everything that belongs to you is connected to your energy.  When you unpack and find homes for your belongings, you can see and feel yourself in your home.  You also know what you have and where it lives, and there's less aimless wandering, looking for the digital camera.  This goes for hotel rooms and temporary accommodations as well.  You'll feel much more comfortable and will sleep better if you unpack.
  • Hang Pictures - I can't tell you how many times I work with people who have paintings and photographs that have been waiting to go up on the walls for years.  You've chosen this artwork for a reason, so allow yourself to enjoy it.  It doesn't have to go in the perfect spot.  If you don't like where it is, you can always move it.  Sure it might leave a little hole in the wall, but it's your hole and it shows that you tried.  Blank walls have the feeling of held breath to me.  This goes for naked floors too.  It's amazing what a difference it makes to put a few area rugs and throw cushions here and there.
  • Treat Yourself to New Bedding - I noticed when I moved, that my pillow felt so... icky.  I could feel layer upon layer of worries and bad hair days on that thing.  It was such a treat to sleep with a new pillow, new sheets and a new mattress cover to commemorate my new place.  The first night that I lay my head on my fresh, bouncy pillow felt refreshing and rejuvenating.
  • Space Clearing - I love Space Clearing!  Space Clearing is a beautiful ceremony involving flowers, bells and clapping which is designed to clear the energetic imprints left behind by the people who used to live in your place.  It's a powerful way to really make the space yours.  I find regular Space Clearing to be as important as taking out the garbage in terms of helping me to feel at home, and helping me to live my best life.
  • Invite Friends Over - Your place doesn't have to be perfect to do this, so don't worry if you haven't checked off all the boxes above.  There's something about inviting your dear ones over for tea that helps you to see your space and yourself through their eyes.  In preparation for having friends over, you'll see some of the little things that need to be done to help you feel more at home.  At the same time, their eyes are often much more forgiving than yours.  Just as your friends don't obsess over your stray hairs, lumps and bumps, they also won't judge you for the odd dust bunny or hair in the sink.

I'm getting excited by all the ways I can help to make this stranger feel a little more like a favorite sweater and trusted friend.  Things are already so much better than they were when I first moved in a week ago, but I'm looking forward to feeling even more at home.

Now I'd love to hear from you!  What do you do to help you feel more at home?  What are the little things that make all the difference?  I'd love to hear your ideas and experiences. As always, you can comment over on my blog. Oh, and please share this with your family and friends, more is always merrier!   

Take care,