Home is where the heart is…and your self-respect, so make it nice.
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I’ve owned my house for seven years, but in the last year I’ve been trying to reorganize and redecorate. Really, I’m trying to re-see the house with new eyes–what could work better, look better, feel better? And because I am so generous, I’m sharing what I’ve learned about making a house into a home. This post is for the established man. If you’re 22, just graduated, living in a two-bedroom with four other dudes as you all navigate the crappy pay of a first job, it’s not exactly practical (or financially feasible) for you to meet the expectations of this list. Think of it as something to aspire to later on. If you’re a man who has a solid living situation, a bit of spending money, and a desire to make your house/apartment/condo better, this list should get you started. Here’s what you need to create the grown-up home:
Things that aren’t broken
I’m calling myself out on this one. This past winter, my sister came to visit and she was horrified by the number of broken things in my house. Here, just shove a knife sideways into the food processor to get it to work; oh you have to put of a bit of English on it when using the can opener; don’t mind those dining room chairs, just shove the dowel back in. Something breaks, you figure you’ll deal with it later, and then you forget about it. If you have the money to do so, fix the things that break, in a timely manner. Replace the items that are dingy and worn. Do it before a house guest brings it to your attention. As soon as we got new ones I couldn’t believe we’d lived with those terrible chairs for so long, and the broken part for that food processor was actually very cheap to replace. The can opener? Eh, still working on that one.
Oh hell no.
Shelves, cabinets, bookcases
Your living space is going to look junky unless it’s properly organized. Don’t nobody wanna see piles of stuff sitting on the floor, or a chair, or littering every possible counter space. Use shelving units, bookcases, hutches, cabinets, trunks and other pieces to organize all your treasures. Seems like an obvious suggestion, but I bet if you look at your bedside table or kitchen counters, you’ll find clutter that you’ve simply gotten used to seeing. You can cultivate a really clean, polished look simply by keeping out only items that are used daily, or that are decorative. If you only use the espresso machine on the weekends, it can go in the cabinet during the week. If you have a stack of books on your nightstand that you’ve been meaning to read for two years, they can probably be shelved away in a bookcase.
Take a look at your walls. Do you have a framed family photo from your brother’s wedding five years ago, next to a tapestry you picked up during a trip to Mexico, beside a painting from one of those warehouse sales that looks like it belongs in a Motel 6? Unless you’ve hired a decorator to give your entire home a cohesive look, your decor is likely an accumulation of items you’ve collected over the years. Which is actually kind of great–we want our homes to be a reflection of ourselves and our experiences. But intent and organization is key.
Stand back and look at where you’ve hung your art, your photographs, your souvenirs. Would it make more sense to hang all the family pictures together in one spot, to dedicate a hallway to the treasures you’ve picked up during your travels? Instead of hanging art on the wall you have no connection too, what about putting some of your photos to canvas? Are you mixing bronze, silver and gold fixtures throughout your home? Re-evaluate the aesthetic every few years to make sure it’s pleasing to the eye.
A quality piece of furniture… if you can afford it.
Hard news for those of us who love a bargain. But it’s true. Cheap is cheap. The island I used in my kitchen for years was from IKEA. I bought it when all I could afford was IKEA. The wheels never worked and it wobbled precariously when the wind blew. I paid cheaply for it and it worked cheaply in my home. Now that I’ve replaced it with a high quality piece of furniture, again, I can’t believe I put up with that hunk of junk for so long. If cheap is what you can afford now, then go cheap, or consider not making a purchase at all until you’ve saved for something better. But if you do have the money for quality, buy quality. It will work better and last longer. And it won’t horrify your sister when she comes to visit.
Got something brewing in your life? Send me an email–style, etiquette, relationships–I answer it all: firstname.lastname@example.org