A series of pink stairs

When I was younger, many places felt like home to me: the small home I shared with my parents and sister, my grandparents’ house and the boat they owned at the lake.

I fell in love easily and quickly with the water and the mountains. I fell in love with the way I felt when I was in Nana and Coach’s living room or in the bedroom with pink walls that I shared with my sister. As I got older, there were fewer places where I felt I could be wholly myself. I longed to feel the way I felt at 5 years old again—free, lighthearted, safe and like I could be everything I was made to be in a place that reflected who I was.

I moved back in with my parents when I graduated from college and was looking for a job. While those months at home were wonderful and brought us closer as a family, it was time for me to create my own home. My sister and I started a fast and furious search for a house that we could afford and make our own.

It was time for me to create my own home.

When the offer we put in on our now home was accepted, I was elated. I finally felt like I could start planning for my home and a life that was my own. Through months of renovations, home improvement projects and weekends spent moving things around and painting walls yet again, we have found ways to continually make our house look and feel the way we want it to. It has taken months of us sacrificing time (and money), but our home is my favorite place to be, and most of the time, I would rather be here than anywhere else.

Here are some ways that we have made our house into a home:

1. Houseplants

It has required a lot of trial and error (rest in peace to our first fiddle leaf fig which succumbed to root rot) and lots of Googling. However, today, we have lots of houseplants that have been with us since the beginning that are alive and thriving. For those just starting the plant-care journey, there are plants that require less work that are great to start out with, such as pothos and ivy. Plants add life to a space and help your rooms seem brighter and more homey.

2. Accent Walls

While paint costs can add up quickly, you can save money and brighten up a room by painting one wall and leaving the others a nice, neutral color. For example, our dining room has a dark green accent wall, and my sister’s room has a charcoal accent wall.

While painting every room in our house would have taken much more time (and money) than we were wanting to put in, accent walls have added personality and color to our home! Each of our rooms also has artwork that adds to the character of our home. While artwork can be an expensive investment, you can also find beautiful prints that don’t break the bank online (like on Etsy) that allow you to support small businesses.

Our home is my favorite place to be, and most of the time, I would rather be here than anywhere else.

3. An Authentic Space

When I think back, the thing that has helped me to cultivate a sense of home, whether I am near or far away, has been surrounding myself with things and people who make me feel most like myself. I know that I feel most myself in spaces that are bright, organized and full of books. If I have my favorite mug and a kettle of tea, I can make nearly any place feel like it belongs to me.

There was a time in college where I could be in my own room and not feel at home because I knew that I was in a space where my whole self was not accepted. I had to either make myself bigger or smaller to fit. On the other hand, there have been times when I am far from home but I have felt that peaceful sense of belonging simply because I knew that I am free to be myself.

Turning a house into a home is about more than the color of the walls or the furniture. It is about cultivating a place where you are able to feel at peace, settled and authentic. This is a feeling that you can take with you when you leave. Cultivating a sense of home is something I value deeply, and I have learned it is an invaluable and timeless keepsake.

What has made your house feel more like a home? How have you made your space feel settled and authentic?

Image via Raisa Zwart Photography

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