At this time of year, we all want to be able to walk in from the cold, to a warm, cosy den that feels welcoming and homely. However its not that easy to create a home from possessions, until quite recently, well about four years ago we did not have a homely space, rather a place we lived in. For me, the changes we've made to make our place a home seem so simple, but we just didn't use to spend enough time in our home, or in fact care enough.
So here are my Top Ten Tips, feel free to comment, add your own etc.
1. Mirrors, artwork and personal photos up on the walls. Actually putting up hooks, and drilling in to the walls, gives a real sense of permanence. Mirrors in particular if carefully placed, make a room more inviting, seem larger, or reflect the best bits. Most tenants will be allowed to put things up too, so no excused. The only thing I would recommend doing is investing in a clever DIY device that checks there's no wires or pipes where you want to drill. Sory don't know name of thing, so bound to be embarrassing asking for it in ironmongers, well alright B & Q.
2. Soft lighting in living areas, and bedrooms. I've only recently begain to see the benefits of this, but its so much more softer and cosier to have several small table, standard or wall lights on, rather than one cold harsh light. Even nicer is my friend K's idea where she has permanent fairy lights, the classy kind, rather than multi coloured Santa's placed around her house.
3.Display your treasures, whether these are your snowdome collection, as in American friend L's flats in London which always looked amazing, or your collection of rocks from the beach, even your CD's and DVD's can look cool and inviting when stored well on open shelves. The only exception to this I would say is possibly scary dollies that are very expensive. I just don't know how these can ever make a home look inviting, what if they turned alive, and winked at you? It's well worth spending some time and thought on the best way to display your collections though, as say Wade animals could look cool and funky under a glass topped storage coffee table, but fussy in a mahogany cabinet (and need lots of dusting).
4. Soft furnishings that actually match or at least complement each other, from sofa throws, to cushions, to curtains and blinds. I've also recently discovered that curtains are not intrinsically uncool as I thought for the last ten years. Rather they serve a very useful purpose in the cold, to keep the warmth in, and can look v. cosy/and or cool. However net curtains are always always wrong, real lace can look beautiful, as can floaty fabric, just not ever ever nets!
5. Beds need more than a duvet thrown over two pillows to look inviting. Again, can't believe how long it took me to get this one. Think I worked this out from visiting friend C's house, which is the cosiest and most comfortable house I know, may, in fact, steal all her ideas. Duvets are fine, but need the addition of blankets, or an extra quilt, and all beds should have four cushions at least. Bedrooms should also have chairs in, ideally with some lovely cushion on that complements the bedding.
6. Carpets are not necessary for a homely feeling, but some rugs, and bits of carpet are. However carpets do add to a space as long as clean and newish, but not if make you stressed with worrying about them. Rugs are great, but sadly, at least for me, do seem to need a lot of vacuuming. And I'm not keen on that. Necessary on a cold wooden floor though, so add a sense of warmth to a room, and actual warmth to put your feet on. Cats also like to sleep on them.
7.Real fires are amazing for adding homely factor, if not possible, good gas/electric ones can be brilliant at adding a focus to a room. Amazingly even really cool looking ones add a sense of homeliness, course the actual warmth is a Good Thing too.
8. Have tea and coffee making stuff, ideally of course an amazing Gaggia machine, but for the rest of us a cafetiere will do out on the side. This means that people who come to your house feel more welcome to help out by making the drinks as they don't need to search the cupboards for bits. Two real benefits here, one guests feel welcome (sorry family and close friends you just have to make drinks due to my sheer bad hostessing skills) enought to make drinks, and two you get help in making people comfortable.
9. Go in rooms and really look at them, it might be a room can be made a little more homely with the addition of a few books on a bedside table for guests, or a scarf draped over a handle, or even a little homemade fairy on a hook. This even included the hall, and its worth remembering the design edict that everything should be beautiful or useful or both, if not chuck it!
10. Keep stacks of basics like toilet roll, and soap and towels accessible in bathrooms. Lovely to see extra supplies of things, and gives a sense of luxury, even if they'll get used anyway so not luxury at all really.
And finally, once you've done all the above, relax and love your house, make it little gifts, and buy it little gifts.