12 Lovely Ways to Make a New House Feel Like Home

White farmhouse at Blackberry Farm on Hello Lovely Studio

Photo: Tec Petaja

A fresh move into a new home can be a joyous occasion…and it can also be gut wrenching. As I write this, my heart is with those souls who are relocating and picking up the pieces after Harvey, Irma, and Jose. Harvey destroyed or damaged around 100,000 homes and left 30,000 folks still living in emergency shelters (approximately 8,000 families have moved into hotel rooms).

I talked to one of my best friends last night about her brother in Houston who lost everything in his one-level home where floodwaters rose to neck-level “except for some family pictures and objects high upon a shelf on the wall.” Gulp. That image got me. She says he remains grateful to have secured a new home–an apartment–in which to start over. Moving indeed involves a mix of emotions and anxiety triggers, and even though we humans are masterful at adaptation, transitions are still potentially tricky.

I know a little about moving and the art of nesting. As a child, I moved across the Midwest 8 times (due to transfers with my parents’ careers), and as an adult, I moved into 16 different apartments and houses, not counting college dormitories. According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, changing residences is the #32 most stressful life event: less stressful than in-law troubles, but more stressful than minor violations of the law. Ummm. I think a few of us would agree that hurricane or no hurricane, the stress of moving into a new home should maybe rank in the top 15!

While there is much variation in how we acclimate to a new home and the manner in which we get settled, most of us seem to agree that “familiar smells and sounds will make you feel at home almost instantly” (from a piece on the Homestars blog). For me personally, organizing the kitchen first is important since the kitchen is our true living room. I clean the space thoroughly, stock the refrigerator, and bring in just one box to unpack at a time for less overwhelm and a sense of accomplishment as each box is emptied.

Good Housekeeping asked some of the top names in design for ideas to feel settled and happy while living among boxes those first weeks, and the range of their approaches surprised me a little, revealing some of their core values. Nate Berkus expressed a desire to be able to find his favorite sweater and suggests getting our closets organized first, while Nicole Curtis wants her son to feel secure and recommends prioritizing kids’ rooms. I found the personal strategy of Apartment Therapy founder Maxwell Ryan, to be especially heartwarming and poignant: “I’ve had a cuckoo clock for years that sings every 30 minutes…to me the sound of the clock is home, and having it running right away always does the trick.”

But what if a singing cuckoo clock or strategy to feel at home within the new place eludes you? Deep cleansing breath. I ventured beyond top design personalities and household names, appealing to my wise, down-to-earth, creative friends skilled in the art of moving…and they totally delivered.

(This post contains affiliate links – you won’t pay extra, yet I’ll earn a few pennies.)

12 Ways to Make a New House Feel Like Home

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Here are 12 lovely ways to make a new house feel like home.

Boho chic rustic decor in bedroom with books on Hello Lovely Studio

via Audrey Yap

1. “Unpack books first…your rooms will be full of old friends.” ~Kathleen

2. “Put the coffee on!” ~Nancy

Gorgeous pot roast dinner on Hello Lovely Studio

via Closet Cooking

3.”Since I love to cook, I start there and make something that smells delicious.” ~Karene

Golf club floor lamp on Hello Lovely Studio

via Grey Wolf Gold

4. “Keep the golf clubs in clear sight.” ~Bob

Shabby chic style teepee with flowers in kids room on Hello Lovely

via Aggie and Francois

5. “I like to tackle the kids’ rooms first so they feel safe and settled and have a place to hang out. Then I start on the kitchen…a batch of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, and we’re home.” ~Jody

Gorgeous horse art work on herringbone floor in Paris apartment on Hello Lovely Studio

via Yatzer

6. “Unpack the art, and plug in your favorite wax warmer to burn your favorite scent.” ~Erin

Cozy cushions on floor of boho chic rustic living space on Hello Lovely Studio

via Charming Treasures

7. “Set up an area in the living room immediately with comfortable seating and lounging because getting settled is stressful, and it helps to have a retreat area to escape the chaos and regroup.” ~Karen

Modern farmhouse bedroom with rustic shiplap elegance by Hello Lovely Studio

My room – Hello Lovely Studio

8. “My bed is always the first thing I put together at a new place. It soothes me and helps me feel ready to face the day ahead.” ~Deborah

9. “I light my favorite candle (Volcano – Capri Blue), hang family pictures, and add fresh flowers…then it feels like home.” ~Buffy

Gorgeous feminine farmhouse with vintage china and flowers on Hello Lovely Studio

Photo: Tec Petaja

10. “I have always packed my kitchen last and unpacked it first. While it’s easy to order a pizza or go out to eat, creating a family dinner, sitting down at the table and giving thanks makes a house a home.” ~Reta

Carrot cake waffles with butter on Hello Lovely Studio

Carrot cake waffles, anyone?

11. “Bake something that makes the house smell like yours.” ~Poppy

Beautiful pink flowers in bud vase on Hello Lovely Studio

Photo: Tec Petaja

12. “Fresh flowers and music!” ~Kathy

Moving boxes with smart cut outs on Hello Lovely Studio

via Listotic

BONUS MOVING TIP: “Be strategic in your packing plan. Pack essentials you’ll want to unpack first, and keep those boxes separate from the rest. You’ll be less overwhelmed and have the important stuff.”.” ~Webster

Knotty alder door to modern farmhouse bathroom by Hello Lovely Studio

My home – Hello Lovely Studio

Your turn: What do YOU do to make a new place feel like home?

Peace to you right where you are.

michele

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14 Comments

  1. September 19, 2017 / 3:30 pm

    Great post- kinda makes me want to move! Lol

    • michele
      September 19, 2017 / 7:15 pm

      thanks for reading. xox

  2. September 20, 2017 / 3:45 am

    So many of the tips have to do with our sense of smell. It makes sense–one of the things that can make a place very unpleasant is a bad smell. Cooking, candles, flowers–whatever it takes–put your imprimatur on a space before the boxes are unpacked.

    • michele
      September 20, 2017 / 7:32 am

      Yes! That olfactory business is real and powerful! I use citrus essential oil cleaning products, and it just wouldn’t feel like home with a different fragrance…thanks for adding to the beauty here.

  3. Hope Gilreath
    September 20, 2017 / 5:08 am

    I always felt like window treatments almost immediately make the house feel like home. I hang them as soon as I can. Always love your tips!

    • michele
      September 20, 2017 / 7:30 am

      That is so cool! I love that you do that, and there was a time when it was one of the first things I did as well. We received lace curtains made in Belgium for all our windows as a wedding gift from my mom, and I hung them every place we lived until this house, where I haven’t found a place for them…yet! :0

  4. Alice Genzlinget
    September 20, 2017 / 6:04 am

    I make my bed first because when I get so tired I can’t go any longer I can go to my bed and be refreshed. I also mark each box so I know where each box goes.

    • michele
      September 20, 2017 / 7:28 am

      Really good point, Alice. The stress of moving is exacerbated by poor sleep so it’s smart to prioritize it! 🙂

  5. Marilyn S.
    September 20, 2017 / 6:14 am

    I just love your blog -I find myself going from post to post, I just stumbled on your video of the home tour with all the questions about you and I loved it. Your home is beautiful and you are just as cute as a button and so down to earth.

    • michele
      September 20, 2017 / 7:27 am

      Thank you so much, Marilyn. I am so lucky to have you in this lovely tribe, always encouraging and adding to the beauty here. It was vulnerable making that video, and I appreciate you taking the time to watch. 🙂

  6. September 20, 2017 / 6:30 am

    I have been in the same house for 30 years-wonder if I could have a pretend move. Great tips!

    • michele
      September 20, 2017 / 7:24 am

      I have moved enough for move of us, friend. It’s a beautiful thing to fall in love with one place. xox

  7. September 20, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    The art and books are definitely top priorities on my list! But I agree that we really do live in the kitchen so that should probably come first 🙂 My heart goes out to all those who lost everything and I pray for them and their families .

    • michele
      September 20, 2017 / 4:31 pm

      My friends covered a lot of important bases, didn’t they? Thanks for adding to the beauty, Holly.

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