Friday, August 23, 2013

8 Ways to Make a New house Feel like an Intimate Home

Some of you who read Saying "Yes" to The help You Need might have gathered that I just moved house. Yes, I we move to a new apartment in the suburbs of Lagos and over the last 2 weeks I have had had to try to make it feel like home. 

OK,  I admit it, I am one of those people who like looking at decorating mags, but I have to remind myself of what they are – mostly eye candy/fantasy, with the occasional idea I can actually implement. For people who salivate through all the interior showrooms and magazines and stress to attain what is not the everyday norm. They need to realize that making the most of our homes is so much more than just the stuff we put in them, and the way we arrange said stuff. So here are some ideas on how to make a new house a home.

1. Please Don't Stop The Music: Right from when your unpacking have some music playing. Playing Sade, Zamajobe or the Winnans  (the daddies oh,  not Phase2) immediately gives me a sense of well being. It's a easy to listen to music at the gym or whilst driving. But kick out the jams at home, too! Some of the strongest memories are evoked with music.

2. Give yourself (and your kids) permission to grieve. Miss your old place, it is allowed. You were used to it, now you have to get used to somewhere else. My former house was in such a centralized area that the new place makes me feel like I'm in a new country but I still like it .
3. Make it Aromatic. Like music, I also thing smells are so evocative. Bake a cake, cook some aromatic Nsala soup or Ogbonor soup there is something really intimate about the smell of coffee early in the morning (ladies don't drink too much, it makes us overly emotional)

4. Make sure the bathrooms and kitchen are clean. The rest of your home is for living. Clean bathrooms are my specialty. I actually enjoy cleaning my bathroom, it’s so satisfying to see it sparkling and have the freshly washed “gleam” For the rest of your house you don’t have to lose it when the throw pillows aren’t in the right place “Chill out Ma, be thankful, it just means someone has actually been sitting there”

5. Speak Kindly: Homes are places where love and memories are made. Do your best to make them kind, wonderful thoughts. Tone, attitude, and spirit go a long way to making your intimate home one that is comforting and a refuge away from everything else.
6. Become an Obama Mama. We may not all favor Obama, but surely we all value hope and positive change.Be proactive about changing what doesn’t work. Once my over excitement had receded, I started experimenting with the house. I was amazed at the power of simple changes. Change things around, use different arrangements. Just because the furniture was arranged a certain way in the old house, doesn't mean it has to be the same here. Make your home feel like a refuge.
7. Love your Home. Keep it clean and tidy. Pick up the clutter and keep things neat. No matter how humble your home is, it is always more welcoming to me, the lady of the house, if it is clean and orderly. Mine isn't always spotless, but the main areas are usually presentable. And always plan ahead don’t just buy thing because they are “pretty” Our former house was constantly "in transition" I never actually decided between red and lime for my kitchen, so you can just imagine what it was like.

8. Always keep food and drinks for guests.
In African culture extra food was always prepared  in case guests came over, but nowadays people always call before stopping by. I always try to keep some cold drinks in the fridge and a few non-perishable snacks that are FOR GUESTS ONLY. (Rotated out to keep them fresh if no guests come, of course.)

A less-than-perfect house can still feel like home. You might be focusing on all the negatives like the smaller kitchen and lack of outdoor space. A year into our last apartment, I was amazed at my fondness for a house I’d once disliked. When I looked around, I saw all the ways I’d chosen contentment. That sense of gratitude and empowerment helped make the house beautiful to me and I have carried that on to this home too.
Statistics say that 5 million Americans (a conservative figure, I bet) are homeless, so any of us who are so fortunate to have more than just a roof over our heads should be very, very thankful for what we do have.

Ijeoma Olujekun

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