For some a home is simply a roof over their head, for others it is a mansion set on an expansive piece of land, and for others it is simply to be surrounded by loved ones. Those are all great answers but in my blog, I tackle what makes a home a home from the perspective of home design, decorating and entertaining.

Home Design

So what makes a home a good home?

After completing eleven large scale renovations and building three custom homes, I have come to understand what makes a home a good home. We have had a few fails but so many successes and were always able to sell our homes to very happy new owners because of the amount of detail and love we put into the renovation.

Most importantly – DESIGN MAKES A HOME A GOOD HOME! This can either be through a renovation or a new build. Take time to list all of the needs of whoever will be living there. Do you love entertaining and therefore should focus the design of the home around a large kitchen, dining room and entertaining spaces? Is a dedicated office for a home-based business? Do you have children of greatly varying ages who need separate bedrooms and entertainment areas? Create your wishlist and segregate them into must-have’s, secondary wishes if there is still money left over and future projects.

CONSIDER THE EXISTING POSITIVE FEATURES AND NEGATIVE FEATURES OF THE LOCATION. Is there a view that you want to consider when designing the home, or is there something you don’t want to see (like the inside of your neighbour’s home or an unattractive building)? Are you a person who wants early morning sun or evening sun? Do you have a large lot and spend a lot of time outside, so you should save some money for outdoor living areas?

Classic white kitchen in beach house looking out to lake view

ALWAYS KNOW YOUR BUDGET. This is so important because there is no point in getting through a project, running out of money and either having to wait with unfinished areas or even having to sell. Get quotes from respected trades people and know how long the quote is good for. Go through your wish list and see what you can get done and when.

CONSIDER THE OPINIONS OF EVERYONE WHO WILL BE LIVING THERE. It really is important to consider everyone’s opinion and this also involves the style of home and how you are decorating it. If you live with a husband and three sporty, rambunctious sons, you probably should put the hopes of a Victorian home with delicate china and feminine furniture on hold until you are an empty nester. Perhaps you can work a she shed or a dedicated “mom” room into the house. If you don’t you are setting yourself up for many years of misery while you sweep up broken dishes. It is their home too.

Mudroom decked out with Christmas pillows, skates, snow boots, and a fuzzy jacket

TAKE NOTE OF YOUR DAILY TASKS AND THEN COME UP WITH A ‘LIVING FLOW’. What things does everyone need to get done in a day, at what time and then chart their movements on the floor plan. Is there a bottle neck somewhere for example does everyone get ready at the same time, so do you need to put some thought into bathroom space. If you only have one or two bathrooms, consider putting the toilet in it’s own room so that it can be used while someone else is brushing their teeth.

Or do you have a family of chefs who all want to join in and make the meal. Well then you should consider a really good layout of the kitchen with extra wide aisles and lots of counter space to work on.

Once you have a floor plan figured out, a style of home and decor, then you can move on to making the home comfortable.

Click here for a full home tour of our present home that we fully designed and built.

Beach house with infinity pool and bed swing

What makes a home comfortable?

Now that everyone has a good space to function in, it is time to consider how and what is needed to make your home comfortable. Sometimes you need to just keep what you have for the time being but also make a plan of what you want to save for, replace and upgrade when you can afford it.

Key things to consider when trying to make your home comfortable are:

  • comfortable furniture – while it may be the most trendy piece of furniture, if it sends your back into spasms, leave it at the store. Try to find furniture with good lines and style but that is still comfortable providing good back support and easy to get in and out of.
  • proper lighting – have enough light to be able to see the tasks you are carrying out, but also not so bright that it hurts your eyes and washes out your home. We have neighbours who honestly look like they have search lights inside their home. I cannot imagine that it would be good on the eyes after a while.
  • ample storage so that you can store away things you don’t use on a daily basis. Storage also helps with organization. If everything has a place, it will make everyday living efficient and peaceful.
  • proper heating and cooling. Having built and renovated so many homes, I can tell you if your home is too cold or too hot you will not be comfortable and nor will your guests. So when making your budget leave enough for good quality mechanicals.
  • items that provide privacy such as blinds, frosted glass, fences and hedges. Having areas that are private for your family and guests so that you can visit without feeling like the neighbours are staring at your or can hear every conversation, is very important to living comfortably.
  • security system – whether you are out in the remote country or in the center of a big city, feeling safe and secure is a must. So make sure you have good locks, strong doors, window locks, gates, fences, cameras, fire and burglary alarms.
Back garden gates with fall mums

Now that you have made all the considerations and budgeted for the big items like heating, cooling, etc. now you can get to the fun part which is FURNITURE AND DECOR.

If you have the budget to purchase some new furniture, make a list of priorities. Know your style and your colors. Start online and check out different furniture stores and see if they have anything you like and if their prices are something you can afford. Then go take a look in person. Just go by yourself for the first visit. You are probably going to be able to rule a few stores out. Finally, take your partner shopping (leave the kids at home unless they are older). Have him sit in the different pieces of furniture. What does he like and not like. It is quite amazing how many really good points men can come up.

Find out what he doesn’t care about – like maybe he doesn’t care if you have pink floral bedding because no one will see it but you and him, but he definitely wants a say in the chair he sits in for dinner and the sofa to watch TV.

Don’t buy too much – too much clutter can drive anyone nuts. Add your decor as needed and when you find something you love. It is so much better to have quality pieces rather than quantity.

How can I make my house warm and inviting?

Firstly, if you love your guests and entertaining, they are sure to feel it the minute they walk in. Other things to consider are:

  • street appeal – from the minute your guests arrive make sure they enjoy the experience. Have the lawn mowed, clear away garbage, wash windows, sweep the sidewalk and entry area, etc. Once inside make there is somewhere for guests to hang their coats and place their shoes.
  • have your home at a comfortable temperature.
  • play soft music in the background.
  • stay away from fragrances or strong room deodorizers.
  • have a comfortable place for your guests to sit and enjoy visiting.
  • prior to planning the menu consult with your guests on food restrictions or allergies.
  • have the food prep done in advance so that you as the host can also enjoy.
  • most of all, shower your guests with love and gratitude for the friendship.

Decorating

What are the best home decor items?

Here is a list of some of the must have home decor items:

  • beautiful artwork in a style that matches the style of your home.
  • area rugs for under dining room tables, sofas and entries.
  • floor and table lamps.
  • interesting clocks.
  • full length decorative mirrors, also table top mirrors.
  • an interesting collection of coffee table books.
  • good quality flower vases of different sizes.
  • a good set of china, cutlery, glassware and napkins.
  • seasonal table runners.
  • personal photos framed of family, special events or travel.
Outdoor dining area at beach house with green and blue and cream table cloth and accessories

How do I style my home decor?

First choose an area that you want to style, such as the top of a credenza. Gather together a number of pieces that go together such as similar or complimentary colors and textures. Also look for pieces that are of varying heights and sizes.

Start with the biggest pieces at the back or at the very sides. Then stagger pieces in front.

Sometimes, it is best to use just a few items. If you prefer more, then place more items but just keep stepping back to observe and make sure to stop before it is too cluttered.

Scan Instagram and Pinterest for ideas. See what you like and what would work well with your collections.

Here are a few links to posts on styling home decor:

The Easiest and Prettiest Valentines Day Decor.

Dining room china cabinet decorated with Valentine's day home decor
Valentines home decor showing shelves with a twig bike with flowers, a white round vase with pink cherry blossoms, candles and a photo of roses

Inexpensive Fall Decorating Ideas

Interior of home with two story living room with stone fireplace and floor to ceiling windows

Halloween at Sweet Valley Acres

Halloween Front Entrance

No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Interior of home with white kitchen with Christmas decor such as red placemats, mini wreaths on the back of chairs, and basket of evergreens at end of island

Please make sure to check out all the categories, house tour and shopping pages!

Thanks for stopping by!