Making a Home

Something just doesn’t feel right anymore.  You came home tonight and found something off, it doesn’t feel like home any more.  Maybe it never did.

This is how many people feel about their homes. They hate to be home and find themselves going out, often.  Home becomes the place they dread being. They go out to eat, meet up with friends at the bar or clubs, look for a movie to attend.  All these things add up and do nothing to solve the problem that is driving them out of their home.

After having gotten rid of more than three-fourths of my belongings and moving into my studio apartment, I found myself enjoying my new home so much I decided to write a book showing how to make the home you currently live in your dream home.

The problem with writing a book about this subject is two-fold.  First, it’s been done before, many times before. But most importantly, from my point of view it doesn’t take an entire book to show someone how to create a comfortable space, for next to nothing.

The condensed version is basically this:

You are not living in a movie or magazine spread. You are living your life and need to decide what that is.

Where's the mail? The dirty dishes? Even a purse? Is this real life?

Where’s the mail? The dirty dishes? Even a purse? Is this real life?

To take it a bit more in depth, we have gotten to a point where we are influenced by what we watch and what we see and think this is something to aspire to.  Wrong.  We are each individuals who need to be surrounded by what makes us feel comfortable.


These steps will show you how to create your home, your place of belonging, the extension of you.

  1. Put away the folder where you have been saving all the clippings of your dream home
  2. Turn off Pinterest for a bit
  3. Grab a cup of tea or glass of wine and a pad of paper and pen.
  4. Sit in the room that bugs you the most,  the one that doesn’t feel comfortable to you
  5. Look around objectively.
  6. Now write down everything you like about the room
  7. On a separate column or another page write down what you don’t like.
  8. This is your blueprint
Well extreme, this is a bit closer to real life with a family.

Well extreme, this is a bit closer to real life with a family.  If you look beyond the clutter this room has good bones and nice furniture to build a relaxing space.

This is all you need.  You will keep what you love and change what you don’t.  I know that sounds too easy, but it really is that easy.  Changing your home to match who you are is as easy as shopping your own home.  Don’t like the couch, is it the color?  Dig through your extra blankets and toss one you love over it, add a pillow if you feel it needs it. A pillow covered with a shirt you love but maybe never wear.

Maybe you like bold color

Maybe you like bold color

Get rid of what doesn’t fit.  Now do this for every room in your home.  Don’t worry if your home wouldn’t end up in a magazine. I bet if you had all the elements of a room you saw in a magazine you would end up feeling uncomfortable in that home.  They are devoid of personalization.  They are staged for the camera. No real person lives there.

Maybe you have to work around Legos

Maybe you have to work around Legos

I know, you’ve seen the spread of your favorite blogger and love the home.  Want to know a secret, even their home, to be featured in that magazine, had a creative designer arrive with a car full of accessories which replaced the homeowners belongings for the shoot.


Quit measuring your home by some ideal and make your home and extension of yourself.

Do you have a folder of clippings of your ideal rooms?

63 thoughts on “Making a Home

  1. Awesome! I love the idea that we don’t live in a movie scene or magazine spread. It’s too bad so many people buy into this way of living. It’s so prevalent on the internet and sites like Pinterest. Keep spreading the good word Lois!

    • Thanks, John. I think there is more awareness today than ever before that what we are seeing has been staged. Magazines now look to the internet for stories and the bloggers featured will go back and show the changes made by the set designers to achieve that look. Actresses and models who are coming out against air-brushing their photos are helping in the beauty scene to show they aren’t perfect either. It took a long time but it was worth waiting for.

  2. Couldn’t agree more, Lois. So many of us spend the first chapters of our adult lives thinking if we could just get this, live there, have that all will be well. But (hopefully) we eventually realize that what will actually make us feel happier is simplicity. My current challenge is finding the time to truly simplify but I am determined to because I know that once things are simpler I’ll have more time. What a catch 22!

    • Meighan, what a huge catch 22 it is. When I went through my home getting rid of everything I didn’t need it helped me to see one area cleaned out to keep the motivation going.

      I think we do realize material things aren’t the road to happiness, but for many it comes later in life when we look back and wish we hadn’t wasted all the previous years searching.

  3. Well, I don’t save clippings of the perfect home. I think I have that down for me. My perfect home has more uncluttered surfaces than cluttered ones – but not entirely clutter free. It has less furniture than wall to wall furniture. It is clean – not spotless, but at least vacuumed and dusted. It is smaller than what I have now, but to move would cost us more because the house is ours free and clear and a move would cost more. The perfect home would be in a safe neighborhood.

    It is what I aim for. And I am moving in that direction slowly because clutter and too much furniture is a hindrance to my husband who has poor vision. We probably won’t move until we need senior care or the neighborhood degrades. Our neighborhood is great and within walking distance of amenities. The “clean” part is a continual struggle – because I don’t really care for cleaning, but I love how it feels when it is done. Today must be a cleaning day for me because I am pretty irritable and I know the cause. :-)

    Take care.

    • Also notice, I didn’t address anything about “decorating.” I am not good at decorating, but my house does have all the things that are important to me – and reflect my taste. I am comfortable in my home. Decorating just isn’t important to me.

      What a great post. It stirred up a lot of feedback.

      • I hope your neighborhood doesn’t deteriorate or that you need senior care but I think you are making good use of your home by using only the areas you need.

        As for my idea of decorating, a throw pillow and a few blankets, clean surfaces, a few plants, paint where needed and lots of art on the walls.

        When your home reflects your taste and style you have the perfect dream home. Congrats.

  4. What a great post! Another thing that those sterile magazine pictures don’t show is the accumulation of holiday gifts over countless years!! I think holidays have people accumulate way too much. I said no to knickknack’s and bric-a-brac a good few years ago when I moved into my small studio apartment.

    • So true, I have been given gifts in the past not at all useful or wanted. The only ones I exchange gifts with now are my children and they have been trained well to only buy useful gifts when they do.

        • Edible gifts are my favorite especially now that I no longer have a stove. :-) But my youngest son and his wife have been giving me a new tool for Christmas recently which is lovely.

          • My apartment didn’t come with one or the hookups to have one. I almost didn’t rent the apartment because of that. Then I went home and looked at my stove and realized I hated cooking so why not try living without a stove. I love it! No range hood to clean, no moving the stove to clean under it and best of all no more hated drip pans. I have a rice cooker that can cook anything I used to be able to make on the stove top and a slow cooker which is enough for me. The only things I haven’t tried is to bake a loaf of bread or make cookies this way but then again I don’t need to eat those foods.

          • Bravo!!!!! :D you’re doing it stove free!! And now that I think of it I rarely use my stove/oven! I barely eat anything in my apartment other than coffee and cereal! I work in a supermarket so I eat there! :D

          • Nice, maybe you could unplug your stove to save on energy drains, that is if it is electric. I also don’t have a refrigerator. I didn’t need it, but I did purchase a used freezer which is where I store all my food that needs refrigeration.

          • I used to store my flour in the fridge too, but then gave up eating flour products when I realized they were messing with my system. You could probably get away with using a dorm sized fridge if that’s all you keep in it and unplug the larger fridge.

          • Yea, I think I’ll do some research on tiny fridges. I’ll put the flour in airtight containers instead. Maybe I could even get away with a small cooler with ice, I have plenty of it outside right now this time of year!!
            Seriously though, there is really nothing in my refrigerator or freezer right now that I need to hang onto. Mainly I drink a lot of milk. I love milk. That is all I really keep in the refrigerator :-/

          • If you own a car your trunk would keep your flours cold enough to prevent bugs. When my fridge quit working I used the trunk of a car as my freezer. I find it funny how only a couple of generations ago they had no refrigerators yet fed entire families. Now we think one is a necessity.

          • The trunk is a great idea! No heat gets back there because it’s all enclosed. it’s just a big box! I don’t have a trunk though, I only have a hatch. However, I have my boyfriend’s cooler at my apartment. I forgot! It is in storage! It is coming out today!

          • Too bad you don’t have a trunk. Right now it’s cold enough here that you could literally put your food in the cooler, without ice, and set it outside your door and it would be perfectly safe. I’ve thought about investing in a cooler for those times I need to have milk for the youngest grandchild when she visits.

          • Yeah, my hatchback won’t cut it, hehe. I brought my boyfriend’s cooler out of storage and am going to clean it in the morning! My landlord won’t let me keep a cooler outside. I’m going to put the cooler in my little kitchenette and add snow!!! :D God only knows I have plenty of that here now!!!

          • What a shame your landlord won’t let you have a cooler outside your door. You wouldn’t think it was that big of a deal. Yep, snow a-plenty here. The little ones are looking forward to climbing the snow mountains they excitedly watch to see how much bigger they get after every snow fall.

          • It’s ok, they want to keep it spotless and plain outside my place. I’m totally cool with the cooler in my kitchen. I have a spot that’s out of the way for it. It will work wonderfully :D And I thank you for putting that bug in my ear!! :D I’m going to gut my fridge and defrost the little freezer and turn it off. I want to see if it makes a large difference in the electric output.

  5. My house is definitely a home, I’m just not a minimalist. Having said that, I’m currently working on decluttering and getting rid of anything we don’t use, need or like. I’ve found that I feel much more relaxed when the house is reasonably clean and tidy. Having four of us at home with a shedding dog, doesn’t always make this easy though. You’ve expressed your point very succinctly but I still think you could make a great book, I hope you keep writing it.

    • Jen, don’t you think the subject of how to accept our homes and love them been done enough? That’s really what stopped me. It’s a mindset that brings acceptance of our homes and it doesn’t take an entire book to do that.Maybe I’ll do a post now and then on the subject. Don’t worry I do have other books on the burners.

      Shedding dogs were the bane of my existence. :-) I could clean the entire house from one end to the other and as soon as I was done I’d find more dog hair.

    • Eventually I got my little space more homey like. It took really a couple of years believe it or not. I don’t entirely consider myself a minimalist as well. I like some neat things around me. But too much means I have to clean it all! Hehe I don’t want to do that! I would rather crochet and make crafts. :D

        • One of your bloggers posted that they grew up in a house where they had to dust everything. That’s what I had to do as well. And vacuum every room. And then there was bathroom duty, and there were three bathrooms. We were a family of six kids and we all had different chores. Now, all I want to do is vacuum a small area, run a swiffer duster around a few things, keep my kitchen sink and counters clean, and wash one toilet and one sink. :D this leaves me plenty of time to crochet and make crafts :D

          • Yep pretty much sums up what I want to do indoors. Now outdoors I’ll do just about any work you want to pass my way.

            I was the oldest of six, but in our house the chores were done entirely by me and I had a packrat for a mother. Never wanted that life for myself.

  6. Ha! A very well timed post for me. I’m not sure why, but Sputty’s death has given me the urge to do some re-thinking of my home. I’d dearly LOVE to get rid of the hideous avocado green shag carpeting from the 1970’s… but what to replace it with? There are oak floors underneath, but CatMan hates wooden floors with a passion. New carpet does terrible things to the air… wool is expensive, and Smoky also has a habit of destroying anything made from wool…

    And then there’s the horrible bathroom with the damaged tub… and the original 1954 kitchen… and the single pane windows… and the worn out couches… and the faux walnut paneling… and… and….

    Oy! Truth is, to completely remake my home would require that I move out, gut the thing and completely start over… um…. sick cat or not, that probably ain’t gonna happen. Maybe I should just start by cleaning everything that got cat pee on it!

    • Cat, when my grandparents passed away I needed to keep busy and immediately turned to my home. it sounds like a lot to take on, maybe just one thing at a time. I would hate the shag carpet and would pull that up no matter what. I love the look of wood floors but they aren’t comfortable, but I would go with the wood before shag. Plus, isn’t CatMan only there a couple of days a week?

      The faux paneling I would paint, cheap and easy.

      Can I come play in your home? I love a challenge. :-)

      • Wow! Count me in also!! I would love a challenge like that!!
        Yes, paint the paneling. Shampoo the rug and add a really cool 70s coffee table! Make a fun, lose covering for the couch out of super inexpensive painters dropcloth canvas! You can usually get that in Lowe’s or Home Depot and it’s really inexpensive!! And for fun, paint on it!! Paint big avocados on it to match the avocado colored rug!! Add some orange and yellow throw pillows! :D
        I’m a child of the 70s! LOL

        • Well, Cat I think we have your problems solved. :-)

          I plan to use a drop cloth to recover an old (found) loveseat and have used them for my curtains as well.

          • Holy Moly. Clearly, y’all need to come over here and rescue me from myself. I think if I didn’t hate painting with a passion some of this would be much easier for me. I could probably make some quick and easy slip covers for the couch and loveseat… though, I think I’ll skip the painted avocados!

            it’s really just a matter of time, energy and motivation – maybe those factors will be on the upswing soon. Please… I’m begging the universe for a few months without a crisis!

            Of course, I won’t be doing anything in the near future. Our high temperature today was one degree below zero… that’s Fahrenheit! Oy!!

            Seriously though… aside from all of my excuses, these sorts of projects just give me a really big knot in my stomach. It’s sorta like the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t know. As much as I hate certain aspects of my house, at least it’s stable and I know how to deal with it. I have such a terrible fear that if I tear into one of these big projects I’ll end up making everything worse and my life will be in a state of utter chaos for months until it can be repaired.

            Is that just totally crazy on my part, or do you ever suffer from fear of making a bad situation worse.

          • Nope I understand completely. When I was buying my last home I decided to remodel the one bedroom to make the current home sell faster. I hired out to have the cheap paneling replaced with drywall, as I wanted the ceiling done as well. Unfortunately, the people I hired weren’t careful and drove a dry wall screw directly into the wiring behind it which led to the total loss of our home in an electrical fire.

            Painting as you know I love to do. I started painting interior walls when I was only 9 and fell in love with it.

            Your weather isn’t much different from ours, although I kept hoping your 60 degree weather would come this direction. It never did.It’s currently 2 degrees outside, and we received a couple of feet of snow. You should have seen the pant legs of the grandchildren when they visited earlier. :-)

    • Daniela, I hated homes that had plastic on the furniture because they were so afraid to have something spilled on it. If I can’t live comfortably in each space I don’t want to have it, or waste my money on it.

  7. I don’t have a folder, but I do have a pinterest board. One for organizing ideas, and one for “home” … but most of the home board basically shows that I like log cabins, wood, pillows, and accent walls. I’m sure, if redecorating or purchasing a home I could incorporate those things, without driving myself nuts. As it stands, I’m quite content with my space…the basement of my parents home (although, I do need to find some new organizing ideas…hello, pinterest board)

    This is very well put though, I think it is important in the world we live in now to remind ourselves that most of the influences in our lives are styled and controlled … and life is definitely neither of those on a regular basis. :)

    • Kristic90, I like much of the same you do. I have a need to be surrounded by natural materials, wood and log cabins being one way. I always dreamed I’d end up living in a log cabin, nothing fancy just plain and simple. But you also have to soften all that with pillows and a bit of color or it becomes very drab.

      Life is definitely not controlled, so why should we think we have our homes reflect that. Nicely put.

    • I also live in a basement apartment :D I like to call it my underground dwelling! Hehe. It is studio style, with a kitchenette and little bathroom. Basement apartments can be a real challenge due to little windows and low lighting.

  8. I never felt the need to keep a folder or clippings of stuff I liked in my home. It’s always an extension of me. Anyway, why wish for something you can’t have, that’s what makes a person dislike their home or rooms. The older I grow the less I need.

    • Exactly!! The more we look at these staged rooms the more people want that and it’s not real. I did have a folder I kept but I used it for work when I did interior decorating to get an idea of what my client liked. It was way easier for them to explain what they liked/didn’t like about a picture than to try and explain their vision to me.

  9. You guys haven’t been sucked into Houzz? Zillions of magazine style photos all in one place. I like it not for decorating ideas so much as layouts in a small area, because my husband and I hope to build our own small house someday. You have to be careful though because sometimes their “small” kitchen is huge.

    • Christy, I try to avoid Houzz. My daughter-in-law introduced me to it, but there is so much there you could get lost and as I rent it doesn’t make sense to waste my time there.

      I hope you get to build your small house one day.

  10. I don’t have a folder, but I do occasionally like to look at books or magazines. There I might see a clever storage idea or a combination of colors I hadn’t thought about or a repurposing of something I never imagined. Some people are good at visions and some people, like me, need a little help.

    Good luck with your book.

    • Live and Learn I too need a bit of help now and then to find a new way of restoring a piece of furniture.

      I used to love magazines, or told myself I did. I constantly picked them up only to be finished with them in less than an hour. I finally realized I was looking for light reading material that didn’t require a large investment of time like a book does to break things up.

  11. I had a folder when I bought my first house and started buying my first furniture, but not since then. I don’t do Pinterest either – I find it makes me feel discontented rather than inspired! Looking back, I “over-thought” the process of home decorating, trying to always predict the next phases of life and what I would need. I think that “good bones” like good quality furniture (gradually) would have been enough.

    • Good point, Dar. Instead of buying cheap stuff the first time around something with good bones would hold up and grow with you.

      I do have a Pinterest account, most of the boards are about upcycling items but I also have bathroom and kitchen boards because I’m trying to picture handicap accessible spaces that don’t look as if they are owned by a disabled person.

      • I really should give Pinterest more credit because some people use it as you do, to share helpful ideas. And I know that when others showcase expensive shopping items (culled from websites), it’s often just for inspiration and they don’t intend to actually “break the bank”!

        • I think it’s a good way to find inspiration, but many do use it for that dream of a perfect space or piece of furniture. While I have a couple of boards created for family members who look at them, a way to share ideas between us, and the children are pretty safe looking at things and saving them to their boards (not a lot of the internet is safe for them), the rest are my inspiration on how to avoid trash or recycling.

  12. My husband and I have been in our present home 16 years, married for 32 years. We found a piece of land we loved and worked with an architect to design it. It took 7 tries to get the design to a point where we were happy with it. We put in geothermal heat which is still a novelty in our area but paid for itself in less than 5 years. My husband works from home and uses his home office on the first floor daily. We love the house but now that our children are married and moved out it is way too big. Also, I had a spinal injury 10 years ago and the house is not very handicapped friendly. Again, we bought land 600 miles south from here to give some relief from the winters, now are negotiating with each other again as to the design of the house, type of heating, possible solar panels/wind turbine, etc. I really want a very small house, under 1000 sq ft but he has a house plan of 2000 sq ft. I am looking at the space we actually use, his home office (but he will be retiring), the two recliner sofa with tray tables, the microwave/stove/water boiler/coffee maker/fridge, bathroom, bed. Plus laundry facilities and gardening supplies. The rest is just accumulation. We are downsizing and passing along things to the kids, dishes, furniture, etc. Our son and his wife furnished their apartment entirely with handmedown furniture. Our daughter and her husband are getting the good china, the 4th generation to use it, the wooden toybox my brother made for her is going to be used for their one year old and she already shopped in my kitchen to take the kithen aid and many other items before her wedding. Planning a home is really hard, but we did it before. Getting rid of stuff is hard but if it goes to someone who can use it rather than throwing it away, it is much easier. If the kids can’t use it, it makes the round of my mom and siblings, then to the rummage sale, salvo or someone’s yard sale.

    • Maryalma, your children are very fortunate as buying everything new is expensive and this way they have memories to pass on about the items that fill their homes.

      I completely understand your desire for a smaller home with your limitations as that was a big factor for me too. I would like to have a bit less winter than I get here though. Maybe you and your husband could compromise to 1,500 sq ft, right in the middle of both your wishes.

  13. Do I have a folder of my ideal rooms? Hell, no way! I had no idea that people do that. o:

    I keep my visions in my head but in all honesty my home is pretty much perfect. I like to have original thoughts, not just be a carbon copy of everyone else.

    • Fairy, I love that your home is perfect. The one thing I hate is walking into a home and being able to tell where everything was bought. I too like my home to be unique and match who I am, no one else.

      And yes, many people do keep clippings of perfect rooms as a way to dream about their future home. The thought is when they have everything they want life will be perfect, but they forget to live in today.

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