Is your home giving you the blues? Do you dream of loving your home? Maybe you’re tired of looking at the same old decor you’ve seen for years. Or perhaps you’re drowning in clutter. If you’re like me, you simply get weary from all the little (and big) repairs that are nagging for your attention.
If you ever find yourself wishing you had a newer, more beautiful home, remember this: Nobody has a perfect home. In fact, there is no such thing as a perfect home. Even though the grass may seem greener in that newer home, it also would get dirty, messy, cluttered, and stale.
The secret is what you do with the house you’ve already got.
Start With Your Heart
1. Open your heart and shift your thinking to gratefulness.
What is the purpose for your home, after all? Does it provide shelter for your family? Are you able to feed your family there? Is it a place where you and your family make memories? Does it have places for weary loved ones to lay their head on a soft pillow and rest peacefully?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you have much to be grateful for! These are the first things that matter in a home.
Now that we have that straight, you are ready to rise up with a thankful heart and get busy freshening up your home to make it a place you love.
2. Stop comparing your home to others.
Beware of the comparison trap! If you find yourself thinking, “I wish I had…”, change your thinking to “I’m SO GLAD I have…!”
You can even start with, “I’m so glad I have a home!” Not everyone does, you know.
If you start at this place of gratitude, your eyes will be opened. Gratefulness will begin to multiply in your heart for all the things you do have. You’ll start thinking, “I’m so glad I have indoor plumbing, running water, a heater when it’s cold outside, a washer and dryer, and shelter from the rain!”
Then you will be ready to rise up and begin to creatively love your home.
Get Busy With Your Hands
3. Do a quick tidy-up.
Grab a trash bag, set a timer, and do a quick walk-through of your home, one room at a time. Scan the room with your eyes and then start filling that trash bag as fast as you can with the obvious trash you see.
How long should you set your timer for? Well, that depends. How much time do you have? 10 minutes? 15 minutes? If you set your timer for 25-30 minutes, you might be able to fill up that trash bag!
When my 4 children were younger, I used to give each of them a small plastic grocery bag and told them they each had to find 25 things to throw away. Then I set the timer and said, “On your mark, get set, go!” Pieces of paper on the floor count! We actually had fun, and when we finished, we had found at least 125 things to throw away between the 5 of us!
It feels so good to take those trash bags outside to the trash can. Immediately, I feel like my home can breath a little better!
Now go through and do a quick straighten. If you have stuff everywhere, at least try to quickly straighten into neater stacks for now. Decluttering all those stacks will come later.
4. Do a super quick speed-clean.
A clean home will do wonders to help you in loving your home. But what if you don’t like to clean house? Then learn to speed clean! And add it to your daily schedule.
Here’s how! After you’ve tidied up (step 3), let’s freshen things up with a speed-clean. For now, let’s just do simple.
Sweep the floors, make the beds, and wipe down the surfaces with the appropriate spray (Windex, Furniture polish, damp cloth). You should be able to do this in about 15-20 minutes. If you have time, go into the bathrooms and quirt some of that good-smelling Lysol toilet bowl cleaner ( I use the Country Scent gel), let it sit for 2-3 minutes, then brush out the toilet bowl. The whole bathroom will smell fresh!
If it’s a busy day and I don’t have time to clean my house thoroughly, this super quick speed-clean is all I need to freshen things up. And it makes me feel so much better about my home!
5. Declutter and purge!
Decluttering your home will be a process. It will not happen in one day. The main thing is to just get started in some way.
There is more than one method to decluttering. Two obvious choices are a) declutter by area or b) declutter by item. You can experiment over time to see what works best for you. But for now, let’s declutter by area, one room at a time.
Let’s start with the room that will give you the quickest win (also known as the lowest hanging fruit). After all, we don’t want to get discouraged and overwhelmed early in the decluttering game. Which room has “some” clutter in it, but not an overwhelming amount? Let’s start there. For me, it’s my foyer.
Grab four boxes labeled “Put Away”, “Throw Away”, “Give Away”, and “Sell”. (The “Sell” one is optional. The other 3 are not!) Set a timer and get busy filling your boxes. After the timer goes off, go dump the contents of the “Throw Away” box into the outside garbage can and save your box for decluttering the next room in your house.
Store your “Give Away” and/or “Sell” boxes in the trunk of your car so they will be ready to drop the contents off at the thrift shop or consignment shop when you are out running errands. Or you can just store them in the trunk until you are ready to pull them out for decluttering the next room of your house.
Continue in this way one room at a time. It will probably take a while. Maybe even months. But don’t get discouraged. Just keep going, slow and steady, as you are able. Make a commitment to follow through and get it done.
Maintain a Clean Home
6. Finish what you start.
When you finish decluttering a room, how are you going to maintain it? Won’t it just get cluttered again?
The answer is yes, if you are not careful, it will most definitely get cluttered again.
But here’s the secret: finish what you start.
In other words, if you do a task of any kind, always put away everything you used for the task…right away. If you don’t, consider the task not finished. Oh, this is a constant struggle for me!
Here’s an example: I grab all the things I need to sit down and make my meal plan and grocery list. That would be a pen, paper, recipe binder, and my computer. After I finish the meal plan and grocery list, I get up to take a shower. But if I leave the pen, paper and the other supplies laying out, then I need to consider that task unfinished.
I need to keep going until I put everything away. Then and only then should I move on to the next task of taking a shower. Otherwise, if I do ten different tasks throughout the day, imagine the clutter I have left and the work I have created for myself. So finish what you start! If you develop this habit, it will help minimize your clutter.
Remember…“put away, right away”!
7. Create a simple cleaning schedule.
If you’re like me and you don’t absolutely love to clean house, BUT you still want to have a clean house, you can use a simple cleaning schedule that sort of sneaks it into your daily routine. This way, it’s not as painful!
Start by simply creating a list of the cleaning chores that need to done every day. Then you can break up the list into morning, afternoon, and evening chores. That way, you can sort of ‘sneak’ the cleaning in.
For example, immediately after get dressed in the morning, I always do 2-3 chores on my list. It takes me about 10 minutes. Then after lunch, I do 2-3 more. Finally, I finish out the list after supper.
After you get used to a simple daily list, you can add a weekly list of chores that are only done once a week. For me, that’s stuff like doing a quick wipe down of my kitchen cabinets and dusting the furniture.
Believe me, I am all about speed cleaning! I like to have a clean house, but life is so full of things I enjoy doing! So I try to sneak in the cleaning in quick ways. Give it a try. It might keep you from getting overwhelmed. And you can have more time to do the things you love.
8. Start a long-term room improvement list.
You can also call this a wish-list, or a projects list. Grab a notebook and a pen. Or better yet, use a blank page in your planner, so you won’t lose it.
Start with one room. Walk into that room as if you are a guest in it. You can also take a picture of the room with your phone. This will give you a better perspective.
What things do you see that you like and want to keep? You can use the Kon Mari method and ask yourself if the items in the room spark joy in you. What things would you like to change? What new things would you like to see? Write down your ideas for long-term projects, such as painting a dresser or painting the walls, as well as adding a lamp to your birthday wish-list.
Do this one room at a time. When you finish, you can prioritize your list. For example, if you hate the color of your walls in the foyer, you can look ahead to the coming weeks and months and choose a block of days that you could spend painting the foyer. For me, that would be during the summer.
In the meantime, you could research what paint color you would like so you’re ready when project time comes. When birthday and Christmas roll around, you will have a wish list ready when loved ones ask.
Starting a room improvement list will spark inspiration and excitement about the possibilities for making your home a place you love!
9. Go shopping in your own home.
If you’re tempted to go out to the local resale shop, consider this… Did you know you actually own a resale shop?
That’s right. You probably have pictures and all kinds of accessories that folks would pay for at a second hand shop. And something at a resale shop is not necessarily better than what you already have. In fact, items at a resale shop are things that someone else got tired of!
Sometimes I take a picture off the wall that has become stale-looking in one room, then move it to a new place in a different room. Wow! Suddenly, it looks like a new piece, and I see it with new eyes, like a guest would see it. This brings a fresh look without spending any money.
If you really want to get a fresh perspective, try this. Pick two or three rooms. Let’s say, your living room, your foyer, and your dining room. Take everything off the walls and remove all the accessories. Now you have a blank slate in these rooms. (While you’re at it, you may as well do a quick speed clean of the surfaces in that room!)
Now, go shopping in your home, as if you were in a resale shop. Notice how these accessories can look completely different when removed from their stale place. Which items capture your attention first? Grab those and place them somewhere new. See what your creativity can come up with! You may surprise yourself.
When you finish moving things around, your house will likely feel like a fresh new space. When I do this fun little “home” shopping trip, I almost always later hear a friend or family member say, “Oh, I like that, is it new?” Nope! I just moved it around.
10. Appeal to the 5 senses.
One thing that will make your home memorable to family members and guests is if you decorate with the 5 senses in mind. Again, start with one room at a time.
- Sight – This is the one sense we usually focus on when decorating. We choose colors and accessories that we think look pleasing to the eye. This is great, but most people stop there. There is more to a room than what you can see.
- Sound – What pleasant sounds can you add to the room? What about the steady ticking of a pretty clock and soft background music? Don’t forget the most pleasant sound of all… your loving voice, speaking words of grace, encouragement and love to all who enter. This will contribute the most to having a lovely home. Also, those around you will be nurtured and God will be glorified. What can be better than that!
- Smell – One of the best smells a home can have is the smell of something delicious cooking in the kitchen. Try a lighting pleasant-smelling candle or diffusing an irresistible blend of essential oils. Also, I love the way my home smells after I clean it. My mom always used lemon furniture polish. I loved that smell as a child and I still use it to this day!
- Touch – The feel of clean sheets and soft blankets warm the heart. Don’t forget that pats on the back and hugs always do wonders to fill your home with a loving touch!
- Taste – Delicious food and healthy snacks are essential to a lovely home!
11. Light a candle or diffuse essential oils.
Even though I mentioned this already, it’s worth noting again. There’s nothing that welcomes you “home” more than a wonderful smell when you enter the front door. Guests will almost always comment on the pleasant smell when you’ve made the effort to make your home smell good.
12. Add inexpensive throw pillows.
Throw pillows are one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to make your home colorful, cozy, and inviting. I’m a huge fan of throw pillows! Even a dreary old couch looks and feels better with fresh, colorful pillows. And did I say inexpensive? That means you can even rotate pillows to change up the look.
13. Transform tired pieces.
Do you have any furniture that just needs some TLC? Maybe a tired old dresser that you once loved? Why not transform it with paint? It will look just as good as any piece in a furniture store.
Painting a dark mahogany buffet light sage green brought new life to my kitchen. Some other projects on my improvement list include painting my coffee table and my kitchen chairs.
Fill Your Home With Your Heart
14. Let go of perfection.
I confess I am a recovering perfectionist. It took me years to realize that perfectionism is fed by pride and it doesn’t allow for God’s grace. If I am a perfectionist, it’s as if I’m saying that God’s grace is not sufficient. It’s silly to think that folks won’t like you if your home is not perfect. Plus, there are no design police that will come knocking at your door!
I once saw a sign at Hobby Lobby that said, “Sorry about the mess, but we live here!” I love the lightheartedness of those words. Yes, messes happen when a family shares a home. But does love live there? That is what matters most.
I’ve been in homes of dear friends, where life was happening and messes were sprinkled here and there. But the welcoming, loving heart of the wife and mother who welcomed me into that place made me see straight past the messes into her lovely heart. And I wanted to stay awhile.
It is very freeing to humble oneself and let go of perfection!
15. Fill your home with love, grace, and laughter.
Ultimately, this is what makes a lovely home. And this will make not only you, but everyone else love your home.
I grew up in an old home. People were not waiting in line to take pictures of its beauty. But oh, my sweet mother made it the most loving and secure home I could ever have known in my childhood. And she was not what I would call a gifted decorator. I don’t ever remember her shopping for home decor. But she did keep a clean and tidy home and she used what she had. She was content. But most of all, her heart was filled with the love of Christ, and it radiated out to everyone through her love and kindness.
Think of making your home a sanctuary for your loved ones and a place of ministry for all who enter. It will transform your perspective of creating a home you love.
Loving your home is an important part of living a contented life. Remember to start with your heart, get busy with your hands, maintain a clean home, and get creative! Then you will actually be able to walk in the abundant journey of thankfulness and loving your home!
P. S. You can find more inspiring ideas for loving your home in this wonderful little book Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels. I loved reading it and highly recommend it!
YOUR TURN: What things about your home are you thankful for? What things do you not like about your home? What positive changes do you think you could make to bring back the love for your home? Please share in the comments!