home + garden

How to Turn a House Into a Home

How to Turn House Into HomeOne of my neighbors recently moved from a rental house on our street into her own home.  She and her fiancée are getting married soon.  She called me recently to ask for some advice on how to turn a house into a home.  When I arrived at her sweet home, we reviewed her goals.  She and her future husband want to make their house a home – without spending lots of money. Here’s what I suggested…

How to Turn a House Into a Home

Take your time. Don’t try to do it all at once.  Keep your expectations low.  Be patient and find items that you really like.  Don’t just buy something because it’s on sale or inexpensive or you feel you just have to get something to fill up the space.  This will save you the most money when decorating your home.  This will give you time to get familiar with, and see how you will be using the different spaces which will inform and refine your decorating decisions.

How to Turn House Into Home
Our living room with items collected over many years and mostly at estate sales or made.

Find inspiration. Find a fabric you love and pull colors from it.  When choosing wall colors, it’s easy to have stores custom match your colors from the fabric you like and your room’s colors will then coordinate nicely.

Focus on the inside. Don’t try to tackle everything at the same time.  Pace yourselves.  The majority of time is spent inside.  Make that space lovely first.

Paint it. Once you’ve selected your colors this is the single biggest thing that immediately imparts your style in the house.  It changes a room quickly and is so gratifying.

Hang it. Hanging pictures on the walls after you paint quickly warms your rooms.  No need to spend lots of money on artwork.  Use your own or your kids’ artwork and save a bundle.

How to Turn House Into Home

Buy used. Buying used furniture (or getting it for free!) is a huge money saver.  Prices are less than new and if over time you tire of an item you can sell if for pretty close to what you paid for it.  Adding pillows and window coverings that coordinate will give rooms a cohesive look.  Sewing new pillows or a slip-cover will also save money.

Make it a date. Go to estate sales, garage sales or second hand stores with your loved one.  Looking and picking out items together makes it fun and makes the home attractive for both people.

Sew it. Window coverings are very expensive and yet so easy to make.  Not the best seamstress?  Start simple.  Curtains can be made from sheets.  Use the big hemmed edge as your bottom hem.  This looks professional and adds needed weight to a curtain, all with little or no sewing.

How to Turn House Into Home

Love it. Lastly, and most importantly, a house becomes a home when it’s filled with love. Putting love and patience into your house (and your partner!) will turn it into a home.

Did I miss any tips on this list?  What would you add?  Is your house a home?

Go Gingham related links:

Using nature to decorate your home – frugal and fancy decorating
Dumpster diving woes: please don’t put a cover on dumpsters!
Green living: once a month garbage collection
Found treasures for decorating your home
A free chair – that was rejected!
Wrapping presents with free maps makes for pretty gifts
Green and frugal living – the sweet spot where green and frugal meet

6 thoughts on “How to Turn a House Into a Home

  1. I loved this post. We’ve all had the experience of being in a house will with items purchased to fill (or impress) instead of satisfying the heart. I call it soul-less decorating. And we know it when we’re in it.

    The hardest part for me is patience in finding the right item. But it always pays off. Thanks Sara!


  2. I would also add “don’t be afraid to try things.”

    My husband and I bought our first house in 2005 and had bare walls for years because we were afraid to put up the “wrong” art. Then my daughter started preschool and mailed us a “hug,” which was actually a piece of art she’d made in school. We hung it up and loved it! It was the first thing we were brave enough to hang and it opened the floodgates. Now we have plenty of art on the walls and our house is definitely a home! Is any of it perfect? Probably not, but it’s a lot more beautiful than bare walls, and certainly much more fun to come home to! Great post, Sara.


  3. I couldn’t agree more. In addition to your suggestion to take your time in choosing furniture, I also recommend steering away from particle board products – they off-gass VOC’s that are harmful to us and the planet. Great post.


  4. Do you know the name of the paint on your wall in the “hang it” portion of this post? I have been looking for that color and having a hard time finding it. Thanks!


    1. Hi Erin,
      The paint is Behr (from Home Depot) and is a color called “Enchanted Mist.” The number listed is 3A56-4 and was purchased June 1996. Hope that helps! Good luck.


  5. Thanks for these friendly tips, Sara. Love the way it turned out. Here’s another tip: look for furnishings that tell a story, or are a conversation starter. Like a large framed photograph of funny siblings, which I’m thinking of bringing home from our shop and sending to my big brother!


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