How do I make my apartment radiate "welcome-ness"?
December 9, 2008 6:50 PM   Subscribe

I grew up in a very conservative, rigid home. Whenever my (formally invited) friends would come over, we’d end up tiptoeing around, afraid to upset the balance of the exquisitely ordered, very solemn house. In contrast, several of my friends had homes that screamed “welcome!” Please help me recreate that feeling in my first “real” apartment.

My best friend from college and I are planning to move to a bigger city after graduation and start entry-level jobs in our respective, moderately lucrative, fields (please, economy, be merciful!) Many of our classmates will also end up in this city, and I’m sure we’ll make friends with coworkers, etc. Her boyfriend also lives there and has a big circle of friends.

I know that people are the main determinant of what a home feels like, and I think we’ve got that under control—we’re both very warm people, and my mother-hen sets off her happy-go-lucky quite well. But I need help with the physical things that say, “please feel at home, please come here often, our door is always open.”

We plan to find a two-bedroom apartment in an easily accessible part of the city—we’ll both be dependent on public transportation. What do we need to put in that apartment / otherwise consider?

Since we’ve both lived on our own for a few years (albeit in fairly icky, monastic student hovels) we have furniture, basic cooking supplies, etc. etc. Therefore the budget is fairly open—a Wii, for example, would be doable. Solid-gold tea service, not so much, and not so useful.

So, what do we need? What intangibles am I not considering?
posted by charmcityblues to Home & Garden (47 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
What you need to put in your apartment is a bunch of secondhand stuff with dings and scratches that it's perfectly clear you're not precious about. Oddly enough, this is precisely the stuff you are going to be able to afford in an entry-level job. I think you'll be fine.
posted by flabdablet at 6:54 PM on December 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

Plenty of places for guests to sit and be comfortable. And if you want it to be intimate and encourage conversation, have the seats all facing each other (like a semi circle or something) instead of everything directly facing a TV.
posted by at 6:55 PM on December 9, 2008

*Good smells go a long way to making a home feel welcoming! Best is something yummy cooking-simmering soup, cookies baking, bread in the oven. Second best is a really natural smelling candle-like one this time of year that smells like real pine trees. Incense makes me queasy.
*Warmth helps make your house feel, well, warm, if you live in a cool climate. If the main areas of the house are too cold, I don't want to stay and be social. I like blankets on the couch, too, to curl up in.
*Comfy chairs, and as allstar said, don't have everything focus around a huge tv.
*comfortable clutter-books, magazines, and things you don't feel afraid to touch or move. A coffee table you can put your feet on, and end-tables by every seat that people don't have to worry about putting a coaster on.
*Casual colors-esp warm colors. All white seems cold and stresses people who are messy out :)
posted by purenitrous at 7:01 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Couch, bean bag chairs or relatively shapeless armchairs (second-hand recliners are even better), plenty of pint glasses/wine glasses plus coasters, decent-size coffee table with stuff on it so nobody freaks out about putting a glass where you just dusted, a Wii would be good, decent receiver/TV set up, etc.

And nothing says "relax" like a rather goofy dog who messes things up way worse than guests could hope to and then charms his/her way out of it.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:01 PM on December 9, 2008

Have expandable seating/eating arrangements. A pile of pillows that you can either stack or use for seating. Folding TV tables (I think the wood ones look nice).
posted by metahawk at 7:05 PM on December 9, 2008

Get some markers or paint brushes and leave one wall in the living for anyone to paint/draw on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 PM on December 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

Before implementing Brandon Blatcher's comment, check the lease to see if you can, actually, paint without permission.

I recently got a place of my own, and the general advice here is good. Try to have an open space, not heavy on the furniture—especially anything super-duper nice. Used is good. Keep it looking lived-in. Seating is useful. Plants are nice. I need plants.
posted by SansPoint at 7:10 PM on December 9, 2008

Books to Browse. Movies to watch. Games to play. A stock of popcorn and hot chocolate for friends who drop by. Warm lighting. And, yes, comfy chairs close enough so you all can have a relaxing conversation.

It is nice for you to be creating this environment.
posted by Vaike at 7:10 PM on December 9, 2008

be set up to serve a varity of teas--a teapot and a set of teacups can be found at any asian market at a great price, or support a local potter!
posted by tarantula at 7:12 PM on December 9, 2008

avoid pretentious "status pieces" like expensive-looking vases & clocks on mantlepieces or on special, dedicated stands. nothing says "uptight, formal, anal-retentive fuckstick" like that kind of imaginationless, showy consumerism.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:17 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

You don't need anything. Second hand furniture does not make a place any more welcoming than an exquisitely ordered setting makes one unwelcoming. It is all in the attitude of the hosts and the way they convey this to their guests (body language being a biggie). If guests see that you're relaxed about the place they will be too. If you invite people over enough they'll soon stop needing invitations. Think of college dorm rooms. They all have the same furnishings/layouts but everyone knows which rooms they can hang out in and which ones they can't. It's the people.
The only things you'll need are things to facilitate whatever you'll be doing with all your houseguests. If you're into games get a video game system. If you like watching the tube then a big TV and enough places to sit. A dinner party person then a really big table. And so on.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:27 PM on December 9, 2008 [7 favorites]

Second hand furniture does not make a place any more welcoming than an exquisitely ordered setting makes one unwelcoming.

Yes, but it's harder to act relaxed when you know your guest's beer mug's water ring is staining a $3000 table.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:30 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

So much of it is attitude and not furnishings. Be warm and welcoming. Offer people a drink or something to eat of they've come over. If your friends drink beer, have some beer in the fridge even if you don't drink much. Make public spaces available and accessible to people, don't have your laundry or other stuff all over all available seating or perching spaces. Mostly though, even if it's your tendency, try not to micromanage people's visits. The easiest way to make people feel at home, generally is to not fuss too much. No "Oh dont sit there!" No "Oh wait put a coaster under that!!" (coasters are fine, just have them available if people need to use them and don't get spazzy about them, just find a way to graciously slip one under a drink if people forget) No ignoring guests while you fiddle with your laptop or do chores, find ways to be interactive with them when they come over and as they get more comfortable being in your space you can sort of leave them to their own devices.

And, as everyone else said, comfy furnishings and a house that seems happy, well-stocked and more or less well-run. If you want to become a go-to place for people to drop in, consider some regular event [game night, movie night, craft night] that has a standing open invite and encourage people to bring friends. Serendipitous gatherings and happy relaxed hosts make for fun evenings and a house people will want to come back to.
posted by jessamyn at 7:32 PM on December 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

you need the furniture-version of a swear jar. let's face it, you always have pennies in your pockets and someone always breaks something. so put a goldfish bowl on some counter and throw your loose change in it. when something does go kaputt you bring it to one of those large coin-counting machines and get the funds to fix your stuff. it hurts a lot less when you do have a plan and it's very cool to just say "oh, you broke the plate? no biggie, just throw something in the jar and we're cool."

but generally speaking this is not a question about how you set up your home. it's all about how you act when guests are around. stuff that you would hate to have broken by a clumsy person backing into it needs to go to the closet. they will love your place and want to see all the rooms, so clean up the bedroom if you'd otherwise be embarrassed. nothing says aaaawkward better than a stern host stating you cannot go in here. just relax. people will take off their shoes if you sheepishly smile and ask if they mind because you have to clean everything yourself. people will take clues from you about putting glasses on your table of looking for a coaster. you putting your feet up is a sign it's okay to eat chips while you all are watching the game and perhaps lose a few.

just accept that you will have to clean up and let the smoke air out after you had a gettogether with your two, ten or fifty most intimate friends and smile at little misfortunes. people will walk away admiring how laid back and pleasant you are and when you screw up because you had one too many margaritas and break another hosts something with your something they will be much more likely to not take it all that personally and only mock you lightly. at least that's the theory.

just one more thing: porcelain plates go into the kitchen, not on walls. that's just asking for trouble.
posted by krautland at 7:33 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Places to sit. Extra chairs you can pull out in case you got the number of people wrong. Enough cups to serve your tea/hot cocoa/drink of choice.
posted by nat at 7:36 PM on December 9, 2008

Hubs and I spent a little money on stocking our (small, but well rounded)fantasy bar.

People loosen up fairly quickly and it *is* welcoming to offer someone the drink of their choice. People just love to show us their own favorite drinks, and we've gotten a lot of bang for the bucks.

Plus, this is easy to keep up on, buying another kind of liquor every once in a while or replenishing what you have used.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 7:36 PM on December 9, 2008

Lots of board games.
posted by Sailormom at 7:40 PM on December 9, 2008

Beer. Nothing says welcome like a cold beer. And snacks like chips and veggies. Frozen pizzas in the freezer go a long way too. (I have no idea what makes a girl feel welcome and at home.

Also, +1 for Grlnxtdr's suggestion.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:44 PM on December 9, 2008

*Easy to care for house plants. Green things make anywhere feel a bit more lovely and welcoming. And easy to care for because dead brown things do not.
*Fresh flowers. If you can afford them and if there's somewhere close where you can buy them. You don't have to go crazy overboard with lobby style formal arrangements. We have a bunch of lillies in a beer jug on our kitchne bench at the moment and it's... nice! Even just some green branches in a $2 vase can be pretty.
*Lamps/and or candles. Chilled out low key lighting is so much nicer to hang out/chat/watch DVDs/play board games/drink yourself stupid by by than harsh overhead lights. Re candles, think simple and low key tealights or plain wax, not hideous overperfumed crap.
*Throws and pillows. Nice for tucking yourself up on the couch/balcony/floor for chats and hanging out. No need to get flash stuff, go budget or go opshop. Think ecclectic and mismatched, not so much coordinated.
*Foods! Always have something to offer people when they come to visit. Doesn't have to be fancy. It's the offering that's welcoming, not the beverage itself. Altho, if there's something you and your friends love to drink or eat in particular (vodka, popcorn, hot chocolate, vodka-and-hotchocolate-and-popcorn...) get that.
*Books, games, stuff to play with. Go second hand shopping for silly board games, buy a pack of cards... or the Wii, for sure, if that's what you and your buddies like.
*Stuff on the walls. If you like prints, try Etsy, or threadless. Paint poetry you love on $10 cheapie canvasses. Make one wall a collage wall. Have a photo wall! If you're renting, you might have to be careful what you stick up/where you stick it up, but there are solutions like those 3M tabs that let you pull stuff off without leaving a mark.If you're renting, you might have to be careful what you stick up/where you stick it up, but there are solutions like those 3M tabs that let you pull stuff off without leaving a mark. Ask your landlord if you can paint the hall (if you paint it back before leaving) then get all your friends over to make a massive mural!
posted by t0astie at 7:44 PM on December 9, 2008

Our apartment serves the homebase function for our circle of friends. The secrets to our success are as follows:

1.) Wii with lots of controllers, Wii Sports, and Mario Kart.


3.) Chairs and couches for 6-7 people and a lot of expansive space.

4.) Regular gatherings formed around events. (Election Night was super awesome. Thanksgiving was chill. And I can't wait for Nerd Christmas!)

Also: what jessamyn said. (Good rule of thumb around here: Pretty much always what jessamyn said.)
posted by greenland at 7:49 PM on December 9, 2008

And nothing says "relax" like a rather goofy dog who messes things up way worse than guests could hope to and then charms his/her way out of it.

Maybe, I guess, for some folks, but for me that screams "stay the hell out of my house because you will be annoyed constantly and made miserable" - I just hate 'em, sorry.

THAT SAID - I'm not sure it's necessarily atmosphere or space as much as repetition - invite people then invite them again then again and again......I think the places I've felt most comfortable and "at home", and that I grew to expect to and love hanging out, were those that just basically kept the door open and had a standing invite out to people all the time.
posted by tristeza at 7:53 PM on December 9, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all the great advice!

We will be renting, so probably no painting, etc. Too bad, it sounded like it would be fun!

Probably no pets, due to renting and because my job will likely require me to travel frequently.

Would a basket of (new) socks / Japanese slippers / flip-flops by the door be pushy? Not a huge fan of shoes in the house, but I also recognize that people might be coming after a long day of whatever and not be comfortable with bare feet.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:59 PM on December 9, 2008

I just want to forewarn you about dragging home any old piece of furniture you find. Bedbugs are making a comeback and you should inspect the nooks and crannies of any piece carefully.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:14 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Would a basket of (new) socks / Japanese slippers / flip-flops by the door be pushy?

Eh, personally, that'd seem weird and pushing it to me, and I would never, ever take you up on it (I don't mind wearing sox around your house)
posted by tristeza at 8:21 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Places to sit to accomodate people. Casual things to do/look at/ play with. A level of mess vs. neat you're comfortable with but that also looks a bit lived in and accessible. That says "use the space-- we do and don't mind if you do." Generally do what you need to to make the space a place you like to send time in socially. That'll translate to guests, too.
posted by Tehanu at 8:26 PM on December 9, 2008

Would a basket of (new) socks / Japanese slippers / flip-flops by the door be pushy? Not a huge fan of shoes in the house, but I also recognize that people might be coming after a long day of whatever and not be comfortable with bare feet.

Just designate a sort of mudroom area by your door: put down some mats with raised edges to trap mud and snowmelt and put a pair or two of your own shoes on there as an example. people will take the hint.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:30 PM on December 9, 2008

I think books, wall art and plants or flowers are important to creating a welcoming atmosphere. I certainly know that if I go into a house lacking any of these things I feel a bit off-balance. Make sure that at least some of your furniture looks like it's there because it's well loved, not *just* becuase it matches everything else. And avoid too much white or being excessively tidy or messy. It sounds like you're on track anyway. Probably the fact that you're thinking about it will do the trick - if you love being there, everyone else will too.
posted by Emilyisnow at 8:30 PM on December 9, 2008

A "shoes off" policy is fairly normal in my circle of friends. I'd say about half of my friends' houses do it. If a host asked me to put on slippers, though, that'd be weird. But I don't mind wearing my socks. It's a good idea to have flip-flops or something, though, if you have a deck and any of your friends, or any of your friends-of-friends, are smokers. Flip-flops are handy for sock-clad smokers when it's raining.

As for making a comfortable space, the most important things for me include having furniture where I don't have to sit rigidly upright all the time--if I feel comfortable enough to lay down on a couch, or pull up my feet and sort of half-sit-half-lay-down (not wearing shoes during this, of course), then I'm comfortable. Rigid formal wooden chairs would be, of course, the opposite end of the spectrum. Also, a coffee table or something similar where I feel comfortable putting my drink / food on it--so a glass top, or something along those lines. I want to be able to relax, and I can't relax if I feel like I might break my friends' stuff.
posted by kprincehouse at 8:43 PM on December 9, 2008

If you're going to do a "no shoes in the house" policy, try to have a very clear designated area where people can take off their shoes. I understand people not wanting me tromping dirt all over their house, and I'm more than happy to oblige, but it's really awkward when I don't realize it's a "no shoes" house until I'm half-way through the living room. No need to yell "shoes off!" whenever people walk through your door, but be clear: no hoping people take off their shoes and then making them feel bad they couldn't read your mind!

Personally, I like the socks/slippers idea. Your friends may differ. I think it could be done gracefully--if you have the basket or tray there with your own slippers, and you don't expect everyone to wear the spare slippers/socks, just have them there in case someone wants them.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:01 PM on December 9, 2008

Plants. Pothos can survive damn near anything and you can keep taking cuttings and rooting them in water.

A little thought given to furniture arranging to make things conducive to hanging out. Coffee table/stands near chairs for placing drinks within arm's reach. Arrange couch/chairs in rough circle. Don't put all your furniture against the walls -- use the floor.

Keep the place clean (but don't wig out if your freshly-cleaned floor gets dirty in front of guests, obviously.) Do the dishes.

Have plenty of glasses, even if they're plastic cups given away as freebees at a job fair. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge.

Manage clutter and potential clutter. Assign some places for your crap that you want to drop when you get home, but try to avoid the habit of tossing your bag on the couch or armchair and leaving your shoes in the middle of the room. On the flip side, figure out a good standard place for coats and associated guests' stuff (backpacks, messenger bags, wevs.)

Seconding a liquor cabinet. If you've got vodka and juice, you can always make someone a drink.
posted by desuetude at 9:34 PM on December 9, 2008

Would a basket of (new) socks / Japanese slippers / flip-flops by the door be pushy? Not a huge fan of shoes in the house, but I also recognize that people might be coming after a long day of whatever and not be comfortable with bare feet.

This, to me, would be too close to the fussiness of your parents that you describe. I don't wear shoes in my house. My shoe rack is right next to my front door piled with shoes. Most guests will see this and ask if they should take theirs off. I tell them that they should do whatever makes them feel comfortable--most take them off, but some people don't. Really, if what you're striving for is the comfort of your guests, being easy going about this stuff is the best possible thing.

My best advice for creating this sort of atmosphere is having a place that is clean (ie, not gross--pick your underwear up off the floor, wash the dishes, and make the bed before having guests over) but not necessarily neat. Live in your home. Pile up books you find interesting on your coffee table, interesting magazines on the back of the toilet. Nothing is worse than going into someone's apartment and feeling like you're in one of those model homes.

A few other ideas: Put an ash tray on your front porch for the smokers. Have extra folding chairs stashed somewhere so you can accommodate more guests if necessary. Put extra TP in a place where your guests will be able to find it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:28 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Have all your interesting stuff out on shelves and coffee tables. I always like going to the houses of my friends who collect weird old toys, design books, funny boardgames from the '60's, etc. Makes it easy to break the ice, plus I know every time I come over I'll see something interesting and unique. Don't keep your colleections locked away, have stuff out for people to basically play with an examine (as long as it's not about showing off, like status symbol stuff. I think of it more like 'show and tell.')
posted by np312 at 10:57 PM on December 9, 2008

Candy/snack dish that is obviously being used to keep candy/snacks handy, not for show or (urrgh) potpourri or something. And the words 'help yourself,' repeated occasionally.

'Occasionally' is key there. Once in a while, 'Want something to eat?' or 'Want a pillow there?' says 'I care about your comfort.' Perpetually fussing over someone says 'You are now part of my decor. My keeping up appearances is more important than anything else you might be thinking of or talking about.' More of the former, less of the latter.

Set the tone for intervisitation by dropping by friends' places (and even acquaintances' places) from time to time: 'Hey, just came to say hi. You're not tied up, are you? So how's life treating you?' Take your shoes off in their place, even if they say you don't have to: It's a magical combination of respect and casualness, aside from just feeling better foot-wise.

Have people over for dinner sometimes. Enough of them that most people will be sitting in comfy chairs rather than fancy ones. Serve hearty, tasty, but non-pretentious food on ordinary poor-kid plates with ordinary poor-kid look-at-all-this-unmatched cutlery. Feed people if they're around near mealtimes and you feel like feeding them. Feed them leftovers even (recent leftovers, please, not ancient). Seriously, nothing says 'Mi casa es su casa' like leftovers.
posted by eritain at 12:07 AM on December 10, 2008

And yes, TVs destroy human contact. My last apartment went through two phases. Well, four really. TV-centered: All joy sacrificed at the vacuum-tube altar. TV-free: Couches facing each other, nice kitchen/sitting division, really nice homey feel. Lamp on a cheap end table by the shorter couch, casting a serene glow over everything. Guests loved it. Occasional switches between this and a projector-and-screen layout: The rearranging and sightline-hacking that we had to do for this made it clear that it was a casual thing, not a business meeting. Friendly enough while the movie was playing. Roommate brought in another TV and plunked it down amid everything despite the protests of the other three: Atmosphere went to crap again.

There are ways to have a TV in the room without having it eat your soul. If it's kind of in a notch or nook, if most seats don't look at it naturally, it can work out. But if you let it take over the layout, you destroy your sense of place. Sad day.
posted by eritain at 12:15 AM on December 10, 2008 [2 favorites]

Good warm lighting. Dimmer switches.
posted by lois1950 at 12:40 AM on December 10, 2008

I almost posted an answer 2 hours ago, but stopped to think and ask some friends, now I am paring down for the third time.

Repeating what others have said, attitude is number 1. Beyond that, my friends and I made a list of the things that the apartments and homes we find welcoming have in common. This list is in random order, and pared down to the stuff we could agree on. This was a cool exercise, we ended up with more than a hundred items.

1. Don't hide your stuff. Have books, movies, toys, art and design books, puzzles, board games, etc... where people can browse and peruse.
2. Lots and lots of seating and flat surfaces to put stuff on. Soft and plush is better, light blankets and a nice rug are extra nice.
3. A nice smell. Don't go for the Glade kind of stuff. If you regularly burn good quality incense, bake cookies, make herbal teas, the smells will infuse your place.
4. Beers in the fridge, a bottle of wine, a few bottles of liquor, ice, and lots and lots of glasses and plates.
5. A kitchen well stocked for fast snacks, stuff you can prepare in a few minutes like popcorn, quesadillas, some spreads for toast or crackers, etc...
6. Make the T.V. hard to use, keep it stored, stash the remotes in a drawer, disconnect the cables. Make it hard.
7. If you are going to watch t.v., have a few movies you can watch over and over again. No home is complete without The Great Lebowski.
8. A clean bathroom.
9. Soft lighting. Apart from the ceiling lights, get a couple of table or corner lamps and buy warm light bulbs. This makes a huge difference.
10. Games, multiplayer videogames or board games.
11. If your friends are into music, some instruments.

These are activities that have made some houses our favorites:

1. A house with a lot of kitchen implements and basic ingredients, where you invite friends to try to cook new interesting stuff. New recipes are better, because if the result is not perfect, people will want to come back and try again.
2. A house where you have taken a nice nap becomes special. May not apply in your situation, but I love friends who offer you a place to take a nap. This can turn a 2 hour visit into a 10 hour one.
3. Inviting people over to try some weird experiment. DIY stuff, an art project, whatever.
4. Find something cool to do in the neighborhood, so your home becomes the gathering place before or after the event. Some examples: Close to nightclubs, close to a movie theater, close to good restaurants, close to the park.

And something my coworker who is reading over my shoulder just suggested: Offer a drink when people arrive, offer a snack shortly afterward. Repeat your offer every 45 minutes at least.
posted by dirty lies at 2:52 AM on December 10, 2008 [7 favorites]

Feed people if they're around near mealtimes and you feel like feeding them. Feed them leftovers even

This. Nothing says welcome more, to me, than people who give spontaneous invites to share their everyday food.

"Stay for food...nothing, of course... it's not a problem, we've got plenty of things lying around to make sure we have enough"

It's about the relaxed, casual, caring attitude people like this have, drawing you in to their everyday life as as participant, rather than seeing having visitors as something somehow separate. People who are as happy to leave you buried in a book that you have pulled off their shelves as answer questions, or make conversation, and not afraid to either while they get on with things they need to do.
posted by tallus at 5:11 AM on December 10, 2008

I love having guests round and am slowly learning to be a hostess -- here are a few things that i always like to do:

* Turn off overhead lights and use lamps, floor-lights etc. -- it makes for a much cozier atmosphere. Similarly, light a few (non-scented) candles. I can't stress how much nicer things are without overhead lights.
* PhoBWanKenobi's suggestion to have the place clean-but-not-tidy is perfect -- give people lots of stuff to interact with.
* Put on music and not the TV - as others have mentioned, the TV can kill a gathering and is distracting. I usually just use our TV's radio channels, but if you have a good stereo system that's even better. Leave a few CD options or an iPod out so your guests can leaf through your music and choose something.
* I try to always have a flower arrangement / vase of interesting flowers / plants around. I'm helped by the fact that a good friend is a florist and her shop is around the corner, but my friends always seem to enjoy seeing what i've got next.
* Keep "entertaining" food around - i tend to keep goat's cheese and crackers handy because that's what most of my friends like, and my partner always has something sweet lying around that we can offer as well.
* A big pot of tea and/or cafetiere of fresh coffee with a tray of accessories is always brilliant. Mine's all mismatched and shabby-fancy so nobody feels too worried about tucking in.
* Sit back, relax, and put your feet on your coffee table -- as soon as people see you doing it, you'll know they can too!

I wouldn't be offended at all if someone asked me to take off my shoes, but i probably wouldn't avail myself to a basket of socks/slippers.
posted by ukdanae at 6:37 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Start reading the website Apartment Therapy. There is also an Apartment Therapy book by the same people.
posted by paulg at 7:21 AM on December 10, 2008

Speaking of lighting, I just spotted these mini-mood-lights from Philips -- these would be a great way to add some colour and atmosphere to a white-walls apartment. I'm not sure where you're located, but they might only be available in Europe right now.
posted by ukdanae at 8:15 AM on December 10, 2008

I'm actually going to chime in again and disagree with some of the TV advice. While I do think it shouldn't be the centerpiece of the house, having a fairly cozy (comfortable to watch) TV set up means that I host lots of TV/movie nights. Find a show that people love to watch--Top Model is my grad program's guilty pleasure--and, as jessamyn said, offer a standing invitation that people can come by on that night and bring whoever/whatever they want. Always have snacks, but don't be surprised if people start to bring their own.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2008

Learn to cook (if you don't already) and cook a lot. Super fancy/formal food isn't necessary. Places where food is served are appealing!

A friend once had a soup party. She made an enormous pot of soup, provided a few loaves of crusty bread, and we all had a cozy, friendly time. Another time I had a donut party where I made homemade donuts and set up sprinkles etc for folks to decorate and dip their donuts. Then we played board games and nursed our bellyaches. I've had fun at roll-your-own sushi parties too.
posted by serazin at 7:53 PM on December 10, 2008

Great question, by the way!
posted by serazin at 7:55 PM on December 10, 2008

Seconding almost everything said above. Bear in mind that TV really only covers gaps in conversation - it doesn't replace it. I'd always plump for music instead as its easy to talk about and doesn't make you mong-out like TV can.

Also, I'm not sure if anyone else has said this, but you can really only be as comfortable in someone else's home as the owner of the home is. So if you're not really a let-it-all-hang-out kind of person then (most) people will tend to pick up on that and not let it all hang out. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. I'd hope you wouldn't put up with more than you were comfortable with simply because you didn't want to appear to be uptight.

(I have now learned to recognise which of my friends don't like it when I go boom-boom on the rug and have moderated my behaviour accordingly. I'd like to think that the people who do like it when I go boom-boom on the rug aren't just saying that they like it out of some deluded sense of obligation.)
posted by Jofus at 6:33 AM on December 11, 2008

I know the no-shoes thing is a cultural norm in many places. However, I find it awful and awkward when I am asked to take my shoes off when I'm going over to someone's house.

I hate it. I feel uncomfortable being in my socks in an unfamiliar place, and it's even more horrifying when I have no socks on. (Oh no, my bare feet!) Having slippers near the door would not help very much, because then I would feel weird putting my sweaty feet in these slippers that someone has bought, and do I leave them there afterward? Do I take them with me?

It's the opposite of welcoming for me.

(Yes, I know that shoes track all kinds of guicky gunk into your house and bacteria, fungus, poop, etc.)
posted by purpleclover at 6:59 PM on December 11, 2008

Response by poster: So many good answers that it wouldn't make sense to mark favorites.

I look forward to implementing all these ideas! Who knows, maybe someday I will play host to a MeFi meet-up!
posted by charmcityblues at 8:14 PM on December 13, 2008

Best answer: BTW the word you're looking for is Hygge
posted by softlord at 8:54 PM on December 24, 2008

« Older Is there an iTunes remote for blackberries?   |   Making money from an adult site Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.