What Makes A House Homely?
I'm never going to be someone who has a Pinterest perfect house. Sam and I are too messy for a start - we're hoarders who struggle to throw anything away, so as much as I like the Scandi minimalist look, it's really not for us. Our tastes lean more towards classic than hip, and we're all about practicality over style where our home is concerned. But while my house may never be Instagram worthy, what I do strive for it to be is homely. I want it to be a little sanctuary for Sam and I to retreat back to at the end of a long day, and a cosy home from home for friends and family whenever they need it.
I've been thinking a lot about what goes into making a house feel homely. I don't think it's as simple as a comfy sofa and plenty of blankets (although they are very important of course!) - instead I think achieving that warm glow of cosiness requires a whole string of ingredients.
Let's start with the slippers. Changing into them is the first thing I do when I get home each evening - to me, they signify the end of the working day and the start of a cosy evening spent at home. I like mine to be traditional and well worn - this is one of those occasions when comfort trumps style every time.
In an ideal world, there would be a delicious beef stew bubbling away in the slow cooker, fresh crusty bread ready to be dunked and a bottle of red wine waiting to be poured. There should always be fresh flowers on the dining table, and the curtains in every room should be drawn, blocking out the outside world and keeping any draughts at bay. Feeling chilly is not allowed in a homely house.
Scented candles should be burning away on the mantelpiece, filling the room with warmth and light and loveliness. A roaring fire is ideal, especially if there's a cute little pet curled up on the rug in front of it. Fairy lights can add an extra little bit of sparkle and glow to any room - don't fall into the trap of thinking that they're just for Christmas.
Activities to keep busy while cosied up indoors are a very important ingredient. Books are my favourite - I like to keep some interesting coffee table books on the shelves in our living room, and I always try to make sure that any house guests leave with a new read to enjoy on their journey home. A strong board game collection is also essential - Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit are always a great starting point.
Where the beds are concerned, a little bit of luxury doesn't go a miss. A good quality duvet and pillows can transform your bed into the most perfect sanctuary, and I always try to buy the best sheets I can afford. It can make such a difference to how you sleep, and when you think about it, you spend an awful lot of time in bed, so it's a worthy investment. A thick blanket thrown over the end of the bed is essential, especially at this time of year when the temperature rarely gets above freezing.
The walls should be adorned with photos and prints - personal mementoes that reveal snippets of life lived outside the home. If you've got a couple of interesting objects that have been picked up on travels or family heirlooms that hold their own little secrets, even better.
But of course, the thing that really makes a house homely is the people in it. It's the attitudes and the habits, the routines formed and the conversations had over dinner. It's the way you get to know that the kitchen is always most beautiful at 3pm, with the mid-afternoon sunlight streaming through, or that the best view of the sunrise can be found from the back bedroom window
And it's the memories that are made there. Houses are simply bricks and mortar, but it's the memories that make a home.
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