"Home is home, be it ever so humble”
September 1, 2010 1:52 PM   Subscribe

How can I make my house feel/be more homey?

I am not in love with my house. In fact, I may be in hate with it. However, I'm pretty sure we will be here for another 26 years. We don't have a lot of funds to remodel/renovate, so getting beautiful new flooring and granite counter tops is a no go.

But, when my kids get home from school I want them to come home to a house that feels like home. I want it to be welcoming, warm and cozy. When people come over I want them to feel at home. I want to be proud of my simple home.

How can I achieve this with very very limited funds? How can we turn our house into a home? What are some touches that make a space cozy and welcoming?
posted by Sassyfras to Home & Garden (54 answers total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think a lack of clutter goes a long way to making a place feel homey. If you walk into the house and there's nowhere to sit down, nowhere to put down a glass while you're sitting on the couch, nowhere to sit and spread out with a book, that stinks. So get rid of everything you can, and organize whatever is left.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:54 PM on September 1, 2010 [9 favorites]

I've found that artwork goes further than almost anything i making a house feel like a home.
posted by Zophi at 1:55 PM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Pictures/art work.

Everywhere I've lived has felt kind of cold until I've put up a few images on the walls. They can be as cheap or expensive as you can afford.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What don't you like about it?

Can you put some art on the walls? Can you get some furniture that's distinctive and homey? Can you put rugs down? How about the lighting? Overhead lighting is usually pretty sterile, so put some lamps in corners, or on top of bookshelves. Oh, and get bookshelves. And then fill them with books. That's what makes my tiny apartment feel like home. I'm surrounded by books. Also, plants.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2010

We did a little painting and family art & pictures on the walls in the beginning.

We have a kind of memento cabinet in the dining room with objects from family history. Each daughter has cabinet in their room to keep personal mementos as well.

Lastly, on trips we tend to buy some item like a doormat or plaque for the front door that reminds us of the trip that we try to replace regularly. For example, our last Hawaii trip is commemorated by a small tile near the door that says, "Please remove your shoes, Mahalo!"
posted by Argyle at 1:57 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: Not just artwork on the walls (very good idea, btw), but pictures of your loved ones as well. I highly recommend non-studio pictures, ones associated with great experiences and fond memories, pictures that put smiles on your faces.
posted by Neekee at 2:00 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another thing I just did that really made a huge difference in my room was framing. I went to the thrift store and bought a bunch of crappy framed artwork (i think it was 35 dollars for five frames), and put all the stuff that had just been sticky-tacked or scotch taped to my wall into frames. It was like I sprayed my room with Instant Class.
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:00 PM on September 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Nice smells. Not potpourri per se, but cooking/baking smells can be nice (frying onions actually say 'home' to me, but not everyone likes this). If cooking smells aren't your thing, orange or lemon peels (with or without cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, etc.; whatever you like) simmered gently on the stove for an hour or two makes me feel homey and welcome. It's not overwhelming; it just smells happy and good to me.

More of a winter than a summer thing, though.
posted by Knicke at 2:01 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with the above suggestions: painting and artwork are great starts.

Some other inexpensive ways to instantly boost the "homey" feeling: houseplants, colorful curtains with matching accents (like pillows), one piece of furniture you really like (doesn't have to be expensive).
posted by particular at 2:02 PM on September 1, 2010

cheery throw pillows (can be very inexpensive at places like Target)
posted by kestrel251 at 2:05 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: Color. Paint is cheap, even cheaper if you're willing to buy leftover colors. A big bright blanket over the sofa, can be cheap, same with a rug, curtains, big painted canvases (diy).

To keep everything from looking a bit manic, decide on a range of colors, starting with the furniture you've got. Maybe you'll paint the walls cream colored, go for red and orange fabrics, black furniture, and an occasional blue pillow or accent. Or off-white walls, green fabrics, white furniture and black accents. Then hunt around thrift stores for things that match those palates.

And finally, flowers. Fresh cut flowers in a vase, windowsill herb garden, a little orchid on a sunny table. Seeing something living makes a place seem... (cheese alert) welcoming to life.
posted by fontophilic at 2:07 PM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Thick inviting fabrics, stuff that just LOOKS warm and fuzzy. Houseplants in cheery little pots, color on the walls, Furnature with a textured or hand-made look, think nubby wood over glass or metal.
posted by The Whelk at 2:08 PM on September 1, 2010

Drapes or similar window treatments. Something more than just vertical blinds.
posted by studentbaker at 2:08 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These are great suggestions. A few more:

Often overlooked but very welcoming: plants. They aren't expensive, and if treated well will give your house much warmth. If you have any outdoor space, a flower garden or box will grown from seeds and is welcoming. Herbs are inexpensive and easy and you can grow those in a kitchen or in a container.

Also inexpensive but very "homey" feeling are rugs and curtains. And I love our homemade blankets and throws. Those are nice projects to do at home, too.

The most welcoming things in our home are our pets, but I can't say animals are really inexpensive, as they need food and medical care. If your funds allow, that would be lovely too.
posted by bearwife at 2:10 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

On the same note as cheery throw pillows, cheery throw blankets are nice, too! Fabric softens the edges of things.

I think non-beige, non-white walls help make places look homier, but I've lived in ecru-walled places that felt like home, so they're not an insurmountable barrier. And paint is relatively cheap, though painting can be a pretty miserable activity.

I agree, though, that knowing what you don't like about the home would help a lot - is it too sterile? Too old? Too cookie-cutter? Too small?
posted by mskyle at 2:11 PM on September 1, 2010

Getting into craft projects with your kids can be a fun activity and result in nice stuff around your house. I like stuff that has a function to it, even if it's just dressing up an old box. There are probably better sites, but this Martha Stewart link could be a jumping off point.
posted by The Whelk at 2:15 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love hanging things on the walls: pictures, photos, antique items, artwork. Putting things in frames, no matter how cheap, can do wonders. (Craft stores like Michaels are great for cheap frames.) Heck, I've even seen people artfully hang utensils on their kitchen walls for a very cool effect. Good paint goes a long way too. Getting colors on the walls that reflect your personal tastes will help you feel more comfortable.

On preview (after leaving this window open for too long): I see a lot of people have already recommended these things!
posted by slogger at 2:17 PM on September 1, 2010

Also, something to think about - Not having household products or food in their store packaging. Old glass jars and containers you could amass for a peroid of time (yard sales!)
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

2nding curtains. Our whole living room changed when we got some nice long curtains to fit the room. I think with the rods and everything it ran about $50.
posted by goodnight moon at 2:23 PM on September 1, 2010

Do you have a fireplace in the main living room? A large mirror? We live in a small, dark cottage and I couldn't live without fairy and cherry blossom lights in every room. You can get them quite cheaply on Ebay and the running costs are minimal.

Some ideas: 1, 2, 3, 4.
posted by ceri richard at 2:24 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: Paint that isn't white. Comfortable chairs under good lighting. Lamps instead of overhead lighting (and lamps are a very easy thrift-store find!) Repurposed items (like I've seen mailing tubes glued together as a wine rack, you get the idea). Objects/furniture/images with stories and histories. Candlelight at dinner for no special reason. Cast-off clothes with the salvageable bits stitched together used as placemats, table-runners, pillow covers. Photos or postcards tucked into lots of nooks and crannies (I have postcards stuck into the pleats of a lampshade). Piles of books. Piles of books used to support other things like lamp, stack of mail, the tv remote controls. Things you make yourself and love. Flowers, or just one flower in a modest vase. Natural light when possible. Lovely smells (not chemically ones). But edit edit edit. A very low level of clutter is critical.
posted by thinkpiece at 2:25 PM on September 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Buying nice switch-plate covers is a small thing which can make a surprisingly large impact. There are metal/wood/ceramic ones you can get for no more than $5 or $6, which means you can replace most of the switches in a typical house for just $30. I have an old adobe house which came with gross yellowing plastic switchplates, so I re-did mine in talavera tile -- it made a huge difference. You can strategically replace some of the outlet covers, also (especially in places like the bathroom and kitchen, where the power plugs aren't easy to hide behind furniture).

If the switches or plugs themselves are ugly (mine were!) it is really, really easy and cheap (~$1 per switch) to replace them with new ones from the hardware store.
posted by vorfeed at 2:31 PM on September 1, 2010

Seconding lamps (with incandescent light bulbs), rather than overhead lighting. It makes things instantly cozier and less harsh.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 2:43 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We've got a zero-architectural-interest house. For us, the biggest answer is lighting. Especially during the times of year when it's already dark outside when we come home. Any and all kinds of lighting. Creative lighting all over the place.

Music rather than TV sounds when you first get home.

Seconding a fireplace. We don't have one, so we bought an electric spaceheater that mimics a woodstove for $100. Sure, there's no homey smoke smell, but it does wonders for ambiance.

I'm a great consumer of home decoratings mags, so here are some things on my list to try:

Beverages set out on a tray looks special.

Two different paint colors on a wall (horizontally), separated by either a do-it-yourself chair rail or an architectural-looking stencil adds the look of a more custom-built house.

Bookshelves that mimic the look of built-ins.

Decorate as though furnishings and decor have been collected over years, not bought together all at once - new furniture goes well with a few antique or heirloom accessories; older/rustic furniture gets a boost from a few ultra-modern accessories.

Love this thread!
posted by Knowyournuts at 2:45 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

If the center of attention in your main living area is a TV/entertainment system, get rid of it - delegate it to a room or area you have to enter on purpose to use it. This can change a living room from sports-bar to homey.
posted by fritley at 2:58 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

nthing paint! It's cheeeeeap and can go a really long way in bringing warmth into a space.

What about painting your own artwork? Buy prestretched canvas at the art store and some paints in colors you like and go abstract.

Or buy a canvas stretcher at the art supply store and stretch a piece fabric you love over it and hang it as artwork. It brings color to your walls and is cheaper than hanging drapes...

But if you can afford drapes, do it! Buy cheap panels and sew a border of ribbon along the inside edge and the bottom to punch them up.

Take your kids out on a photography day and then frame and hang the pictures you take in a grouping.

Buy frames with mats then frame your kids artwork. You can swap out the pictures as you get tired of them.

Slipcover your furniture if you're tired of what you have.

God luck!
posted by cecic at 3:00 PM on September 1, 2010

Gah! Meant "Good luck."
posted by cecic at 3:01 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thick inviting fabrics, stuff that just LOOKS warm and fuzzy.

Seconding, but don't go for things you want to look at, go for things you want to touch.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:03 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised lighting only got mentioned a couple times because hands down it goes the longest way to making a house feel homey. I try to use floor and table lamps around my rooms that can completely replace the need for overhead lighting. I prefer dimmer wattages (standard 40W in our house), and I like things on more of the amber spectrum (fie upon you, interrogation-room-like full spectrum lighting!).

As far as placement, I like to think of it as kind of a tower-defense game strategy: you want to get mostly even coverage by the pools of light given out but you don't want to concentrate it all in one place.

Target, Wal-Mart, Ikea, Hobby Lobby, Garden Ridge, dollar stores and garage sales are some cheapish places to find lamps.
posted by mckenney at 3:18 PM on September 1, 2010

I'm surprised nobody else has mentioned food. Home is where you eat (and ideally cook) together.

It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, but breaking bread together forms strong bonds between people, and it is these bonds that make a place feel like home to us.

(And then all the previous comments about art and decoration.)
posted by richyoung at 3:25 PM on September 1, 2010

Response by poster: These are great! Thank you so much everyone. Keep 'em coming!

What I don't like about my house currently: the layout stinks, the carpets are horrible, our front room (living room/dining room) doesn't have a couch/sitting area (we have no couch), the rooms are small, there is no storage, the kitchen counter tops are weird - they have this strange checkerboard pattern and swirly thing going on.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:40 PM on September 1, 2010

Plants plants plants. And then some more plants. Adding in living plants makes a place look lived in and homey, I think because it means someone alive has to be tending to them (other than zombie horticulturists). So yeah, go grab a bunch of plants. Spider plants are good because they are hearty and very easy to propagate, same with Christmas cacti. I'd vary the types and heights of the plants you choose. Try to get some different species.
posted by gwenlister at 3:42 PM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It might be worth mentioning that our living room/dining room area is what you first walk into - so not having a couch or cozy space there really seems to set the tone for the rest of the house.

We have such a mishmash of furniture - our family room couch is the only piece of furniture in our house that we purchased. Everything else has been hand-me-downs, which is alright, but not necessarily stuff we'd have picked out, so I'm dealing with stuff I'm not totally in love with.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:44 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: Here's the list I have used to turn my house from a great, but cold, house into a warm and inviting home:

1. Keep it clean and organized. Random clutter makes a house look lived-in, but it's also exhausting to be inside of. You're going to need to divest yourself of some things, and build some storage into the house, but that's good, because you also need to...

2. Isolate and decorate. Feel your house out for opportunities to establish discreet "areas", and then decorate that area accordingly, including storage for the things that make sense to keep in that area. This may not come quickly, and you may not get it right the first time*, but once you get it right you'll love looking at and being in that area. To that end, you will need to...

3. Make each area your own. Pictures are nice, but pictures that mean something to you are better. A random couch is nice, but a couch that you enjoy looking at and touching is much better. Even a cheap little end table and a couple of pictures can turn a cold space into a warm space that you'll want to look at. Speaking of which...

4. Light your space appropriately. Don't let it be too dark, but don't require it to be fully bright. If you use florescent lighting, make sure you use a warm color temperature. Make the lighting diffuse rather than direct, with smaller direct sources in places you'll need them. Proper lighting can change a bad room into a good room. In addition to soft light, you'll need...

5. Soft surfaces. Even an inexpensive rug is better than a plan hardwood floor, and a cheap chair with a pad is better than a cheap chair made entirely of wood. Textiles really make a place feel warmer, and take the edge off. Paradoxically, you shouldn't overdo it lest you end up with a big cushy indistinct nightmare of stuff to vacuum. So once you have a few textiles for visual and tactile interest...

6. Hard lines. Since your space is discreet, it needs edges to define it. Rugs provide an edge, pictures provide an edge, and you can use bookcases, paint stripes, and other things to create visual interest and delineate adjacent areas. Finally, don't forget...

7. Have a fun space. Whether it's a table over tile so messes aren't tragic, or a large unfurnished area for building cardboard forts, or an expanse of hardwood floor for playing with remote control cars, having a fun space within the house that can be messy (within reason) relieves the tension of making such a mess, and makes mess-making into a discreet event that can be more easily contained and cleaned up after. My parents did this in a mobile way: a large cardboard box containing a sheet full of legos. They'd pull the sheet up and open it somewhere in the house, then when we were done they'd pull it back up and put it back in the box.

Have fun, and remember: it's a journey, don't push to do everything at once.

*I've lived in my house for seven+ years, and after all this time could not figure out where to put a television-viewing, guest-chatting area due to the lovely (to look at) but awkward (to furnish) living room space. I eventually found something that worked pretty well, but in the dining room, and was content with that until suddenly, out of nowhere, I had an epiphany (enabled through past purchases of furniture and such for other areas of the house) and this past week created a beautiful living space that I can't take my eyes off of, and works beautifully.
posted by davejay at 3:58 PM on September 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Good lighting is a must: warm lamps rather than harsh overheads. Reading lamps strategically posted next to comfy chairs.

Since you seem to be having space issues, definitely keep the clutter in check. Identify convenient and attractive ways/places to put things when not in use. Some built-in bookshelves could be a great option -- as mentioned above, books make rooms feel great. You can arrange pictures, decorations, souvenirs, etc., up with your books to provide a colorful, homey wall of storage that has some personality.

A well-stocked kitchen. When I don't have the basics and some goodies in the pantry, I begin to feel despondent. It also took me a long time to figure out something that my mom seems to have always known: A good supply of Band-aids (and other first aid supplies) also makes life easier. It was so reassuring to me when I was a kid that my mom had all that stuff on hand in case I was hurt. In terms of creating a homey environment for kids, I think that is the kind of thing that matters.

Have the right things at hand in the right places: a place to hang coats and store winter boots. A place for wet umbrellas. Easy to reach potholders, spices, hand towels. Coasters on the coffee table or side tables for drinks.

Also, having a few nice touches in the entryway to your home can make a big impression: an attractive painting or well-framed mirror. Or, a table with some flowers perhaps.

(Except for the lighting and the Band-aids, I'm still striving to achieve all this myself. Good luck turning your house into a home!)
posted by sk932 at 4:03 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Everything else has been hand-me-downs

Oh, that was us, too. We saved up for a few new pieces. We were surprised to find relatively little correlation between price and quality at our local furniture stores. It look a lot of time, but we eventually found nice-enough pieces for a fair price.

the rooms are small, there is no storage

In that case, every piece of (non-upholstered) furniture you have needs to do double duty - if you can set stuff on it, but you can't hide anything inside it, that's no good. Otherwise your rooms end up crowded with a bunch of end tables, bins, and baskets because you are constantly adding random storage. Also, for storage, think vertical - there's a lot of space up there.

Small room doesn't necessarily mean small furniture. Two or three large pieces of furniture look better than seven or eight little ones. It tricks the eye. Other tricks for small rooms are mirrors opposite a window, or having walls that are darker than your trim or wall decor (makes walls recede). One more possibility is to have your wall color be close to your curtain color be close to your upholstery color, in order to keep the room from looking chopped up. Sounds boring, but it won't be, once you add contrasting accessories.
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:13 PM on September 1, 2010

I gather you only have one couch, and that's in the family room.

So, my best recommendation for a decent couch and some chairs that will go with, and not breaking the bank, is to look hard online -- for example, I got my gorgeous bright red leather chairs for super cheap online -- and at 3 cheap furniture sources, Sears outlet, Dania sales, and Ikea, in that order. Also, do consider garage/estate sales -- it is incredible what nice furniture some people will sell, for absurd prices

Re the horrible carpets, if you can't take them out or the floor underneath isn't good quality, layer inexpensive rugs over them. You'd be amazed what nice quality rugs you can get for very little at Home Depot and Lowe's and, for kitchen/bathroom, Pier One.

I'd try to think of the weird kitchen counters as a fun take off point, or alternately look for inexpensive cutting boards, particularly in bright colors. Do bring the eye up from the counters with items on the walls, including little things like dried flower wreaths or hanging utensils or spice racks.

Re the lack of storage space, I love wire book racks and the kind of wicker type free standing cabinets and shelving you can get at places like Ross in their furniture area. Sometimes Walmart has decent items like that too. Another option might be World Market. Again, we are talking very cheap here.

Don't worry about your furniture mish mash -- that often has its own charm.

Obviously, on a very limited budget you'll want to go slow, but shopping around is definitely part of the fun.
posted by bearwife at 4:16 PM on September 1, 2010

Best answer: The smell of baking cookies or apple pie, or even cinnamon, while not a permanent solution, will go a LONG way toward making it feel homey for a visitor.
posted by Spyder's Game at 4:35 PM on September 1, 2010

The website apartmenttherapy.com periodically has an 8-week "cure", where a bunch of readers tackle this problem at the same time, step-by-step. (One week it will be deep cleaning, another lighting, etc etc.). They're following steps laid out in a book of (I believe) the same name. Anyways, lots of good tips and inspiration on the site!
posted by wyzewoman at 4:54 PM on September 1, 2010

I have a bunch of quirky, nostalgic post cards sent to me from all over or purchased from my favourite art galleries that I have collaged onto one wall. It's a personalised 'wallpaper'.

If you have nothing in your living room, a few big floor cushions or small square ottomans and some sheepskins next to a low coffee table and a lamp creates a nice feel. A strip of low bookshelves running wall to wall creates at artificial 'mantle piece' on which you can place lamps, photo frames, trinkets etc. If you can wall mount the bookshelves a few inches from the ground, you can maintain a sense of greater floor space and less clutter.

I like the homey yet uncluttered look of a lot of images collected here at The Brick House
posted by honey-barbara at 5:08 PM on September 1, 2010

the kitchen counter tops are weird - they have this strange checkerboard pattern and swirly thing going on

Are these laminate countertops, and are you the handy/DIY type? If so, you could probably tile over your existing kitchen countertops for not too much money (the price that site mentions is on the high end; you can get enough tile/grout/mortar and basic tile tools to cover a kitchen worth of countertops for $500-750 or so).

Laying tile is not a beginner's project... but if you've done medium-to-large home projects before, you can handle it, especially if you can find someplace to rent/borrow/freecycle a tile saw. Lowe's and Home Depot often have boxes of clearance tile for five cents per tile -- combine several boxes of white or off-white clearance tile with a smaller amount of full-price tiles in a contrasting color (cobalt! red! black!), and you could put a very nice countertop over your swirly one.
posted by vorfeed at 5:10 PM on September 1, 2010

oops, forgot to mention: all of that pertains to ceramic tile. Stone involves a lot of added hassle and cost.
posted by vorfeed at 5:21 PM on September 1, 2010

Make sure you like the lighting. Not just the fixtures themselves, but the actual lighting--is it welcoming and warm or industrial or too dim or what? If you can, let sunshine in during the day. It makes a huge difference (I don't know why but every guy I live with wants to live in a dark cave, it takes forever to get them to see the light about this, har).

Cheery window treatments and photos/art go a long way too, yeah, and as mentioned right off the bat, nothing will make as much of a difference as decluttering, definitely. It is worth the hours doing a major overhaul so things are in designated, organized, easy to remember but put away spots. HUGE difference. Otherwise you're just a bachelor drowning in a mere office sea of papers and old packaging, you're not really at home.
posted by ifjuly at 5:50 PM on September 1, 2010

OK I have no decorating tips for you. But this thread made me remember something that happened a long time ago. I had a friend in 6th grade named Cindy. She was sort of in a different circle than me, more of a girly girl while I was more of a tomboy. Anyway I was happy when she seemed to want to become better friends with me and I was thrilled to be invited to her house for a sleep over.

Big house, beautifully decorated .. sort of a showcase. But her parents bickered with each other and she argued incessantly with her two sisters. They even said "shut up" to each other, words that were not ever allowed in my house.

I ended up calling my dad to come pick me up because I felt so uncomfortable in that big beautiful house.

Moral of this stupid boring story: What happens inside a house goes a long way towards making it feel warm and homey. Maybe it's even more important than coordinated throw pillows.

Wishing you much health and happiness in your home.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:47 PM on September 1, 2010 [7 favorites]

I also came to say rugs. We got really really nice rugs for pretty cheap at Home Goods; I suspect IKEA probably has some too if you have that option nearby. I also think that books and games go a long way to making things feel like "home" to me. My parent's house always had board games easily accessible (often under the couches). Also agree with lamps - home goods, TJ maxx, Goodwill are generally cheap options.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:59 PM on September 1, 2010

If you can, bake bread routinely.

When my stove crapped out last year, I bought an electric slow cooker to temporarily replace it until I could get it fixed/replaced and "discovered" this routine - On Sunday, I'd put a chicken into the slow cooker with veg and cook it for the whole day for Sunday dinner. After dinner, I'd strip the meat and dump the carcass back in the slow cooker with whatever root vegetables and onions and garlic you have and a ton of water. So why am I giving you a recipe for chicken stock? Because -on my God- it makes your house smell like a home. And you can freeze it for later or make chicken soup with it and the left over chicken. Or make pot roast on a weekday and when you come home from work it will smell great when you walk in the door.
posted by plinth at 7:04 PM on September 1, 2010

Can you post some pictures and maybe a rough floor plan? Then we can give you some really specific tips. Or memail me and I may be able to sketch you something.
posted by saradarlin at 10:03 PM on September 1, 2010

Those are all wonderful ideas.
I think it might be easier to organise what you want to do if you get more specific what "cozy" means to you.

You know what you don't want, but what do you want?
For me "cozy" means
- I want to be able to plop down on the floor and do my stuff
- I want everything I own to be neatly stow-away-able
- I want open spaces
- I want a big ass sofa
- I want areas of bright colour

I think if you define this, you'll have a clearer idea of what to change in your home.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:11 AM on September 2, 2010

We have an old (not really antique, but nicely aged) display cabinet at the top of the stairs at the entry to our home. In it we show off all of the stuff that our kids (blended family) have made, won or given us over the years. Its full of pottery, art projects, cheap bits of china and, as they got older, more expensive treats from overseas travels. Everything has a story about one of the children or a special event. All bar one of the kids has grown up and left home. They still come home and pause at the top of the stairs to see what's new and to ask about the latest stories.

We knew it meant something to the whole family when the sixteen year old (Aspergers syndrome, very introverted) asked if his piece of art could go into the cabinet. Now we are starting to add pieces from our grandchildren.

A house becomes a home when the family make it theirs. We aren't good at the no-clutter stuff or the colour co-ordinated, comfortable stuff but we are awesome at sharing what make our place a family home.
posted by chairish at 4:17 AM on September 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

A couple of cats. At least one of them should be a calico. Nothing says cozy like a cat curled up in a sunspot on the couch, or sitting in the windowsill with it's paws tucked under, looking out at the world.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:16 AM on September 2, 2010

I like what fresh flowers do to the way my house feels. Alstromeria (sp?) lasts a really long time and bunches are cheap. Grocery store flowers are enough; it doesn't have to be expensive arrangements!

You might try reading about "The Cure" on apartmenttherapy.com. I know it says apartment, but the ideas are relevant to houses too, especially ones you're not happy with.
posted by kostia at 10:38 AM on September 2, 2010

Best answer: I have found these to be the things that provide the most bang for the buck

Task lighting rather than overhead
Rugs (the cushier the better)
Fresh flowers (I grow my own), or good fakes, especially orchids
Big gorgeous mirrors!
Big, soft throws
Grouping your seating
Gorgeous planters filled with plants (plastic pots are horrible)
Leaving some space between your furniture and the wall

I try to make sure that my home is both attractive and functional. Towards that end, I will find ways to simplify my life, store things that are always getting out of hand, and think about how the spaces are used and how I want them to be used. So for example I’ve observed recently that my entryway is often cluttered so my solution is to look for a couple of pieces that will help me organize life’s dietrius in a convenient way (rather than, say, determining that I need to spend more time putting things back in the closet, which I find inconvenient).
posted by mintchip at 10:47 AM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Not a ton of original ideas but:

--minimizing clutter
--indoor potted herbs
--textile wall hangings
--tv hidden from view (or no TV at all)
--minimizing exposed cords or wires
--light woods
--food items removed from their packaging (e.g. brown sugar put in a glass jar, not left in the bag or box it came from)
--lots of carpets or rugs
--house slippers
--incandescent bulbs or at least as soft light as you can get from CFLs
--fresh flowers
--minimize plastics (e.g. replace plastic "chip clips" with wooden clothes pins)
--old-fashioned tea towels
--down comforters/duvets
--making bed every morning (easy with a duvet--just plop it down, no sheets or folding or tucking)
--table runners and place mats
--fresh air and open windows
posted by blueblueblue at 5:34 PM on September 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Have a good, loving, understanding relationship with your kids.
posted by sninctown at 9:24 PM on April 20, 2011

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