Our homes are personal to us, so of course, we put a lot of care and attention into how we want it to not only look but feel. This is not a post about styling tips or a certain home trend that will make your house feel cozy.
This is about how to create that feeling of home no matter what your style is. Here are my top three suggestions-- but first-- let me tell you a story about my journey with meaningful home decor...
I remember feeling so excited on my first day of 5th grade because I was going to have a locker! My own personal space... I was officially old in my mind. Oh, the pride I felt in getting it organized! Setting my shelf up so my books and backpack would be separated and adding a magnetic mirror to the door along with cut-out pictures of Devon Sawa from Teen Magazine. My favorite part though, taping up photos of me with my friends and family. That made it personal. I created my own mini haven in that locker. It was a reflection of me and what I liked at the time. And it was the first thing I ever had complete control over to reflect and express my style (in which I had ZERO of in 5th grade).
Fast forward many moons... I'm a freshman at Kansas State University and moving into the dorms. I have my own desk area and part of a closet. I do the same thing that I did with my 5th-grade locker (minus the Devon Sawa photos... I had upgraded to Brad Pitt and Mark Wahlberg photos by this point in time). I wanted that little area of mine to feel like me, and I wanted to feel a sense of home within it. So once again, my favorite part of making my space feel like home was having photos of me with friends and family on my desk.
A few years later, I'm married, have a baby, and am moving into an apartment with Matt. Moving into my first "adult" home with my family was one of the best years of my life. This was the first time I would get to make an actual house my home and I.was.giddy! Oh, how I fell in love with that process! But I will say it was a process that came with some trial and error! After all, how are you supposed to know what your style is exactly if the only decorating you've ever done was a locker, dorm, and sorority room???
I had absolutely NO idea what on earth I was doing. I remember Matt and I going to shop for home decor for the first time at Gordmans... yes Gordmans, and yes it all ended up in a garage sale years later. We didn't have the patience to wait and fill our place with quality items. So we loaded (and I mean loaded) our cart with so much crap. But I was so happy that our walls were no longer bare! Even if the older me now would have the chance to tell the younger Lindsey to wait and carefully curate the space, I don't think I would. Just because I remember how happy I felt buying all that stuff for our first place.
A year later though, I was feeling the pressure. We were going to build a house! But I still had no style and had no clue how to decorate. I didn't want to fill our new home with our first round of junk (and trust me after a year, it was literal junk... those types of decor pieces are not made to last. I remember asking my mother-in-law, who had great taste in decorating-
How to pick things out for our home?
How to know what our style is?
What goes good together?
Most of us can't afford an interior decorator, but we want to look like we know what we're doing am I right?? Her advice was this... "if you focus on what you like, it will all come together".
I remember thinking "hmmmm good advice... but wait... I don't know what I like!!!"
Well here's what I've learned since then and here's my advice to you when it comes to decorating your home. Do these three things first (in order to make your house feel like home) while you take the time figuring out what you like as far as home decor and style...
1. First, focus on the people, moments, and memories that have made you the happiest in your life through photos. This is NOT about decorating with professional family portraits. I'm talking about filling frames of all sizes with candid, real-life photos that make you remember a certain moment in life that makes your heart smile. A photo that when you look at it, you'll travel back in time to that memory and feel it all over again. Those are my favorite photos to display and guess what... you can't go wrong when decorating with photos! It's your life on display!
photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/forestsfarmhouse/ ; ordered weathered wood home sign for gallery wall of photos
2. Next, when it comes it comes to art, choose pieces that tell a story about you. For example, I love wildflowers. I love picking wildflowers so much because they're rustic, underrated, and free! When I think of wildflowers, I think of my family hoping in the side-by-side and country cruising in the springtime. I would shout out "flowers!" and Matt would have to stop while I filled up my mason jar with wild daisies. Everything about wildflowers just makes me happy. So if I were to choose a painting for my home, I would choose one with wildflowers. I also love old barns, so I would look for paintings of that. Bonus points if it's a painting done by a loved one or a creative small business owner!
3. Finally, choose quotes or verses that make you feel something and display them as word art for your home! Not that there's anything bad with a sign that just says "Kitchen" (I have one that just says "Mudroom" in our mudroom), but let's try to go deeper and choose something that really shows your soul a bit more such as "By wisdom a house is built and through understanding it is established; through knowledge it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures- Proverbs 24:3".
photo credit: Janey Carrico; ordered a weathered wood home sign for grandson's wedding gift
So that's my basic, starting-out, foundational advice for decorating your home.
You can always get into the details of how to display your home decor, what style elements resonate with you, etc. etc. as you grow and experiment and live in the space.
But as long as your focus is reflecting the story of you and your family's life... you can't go wrong!
You want people to look at the photos of your kids at the pumpkin patch and say "awww that looks like a fun tradition" and then you can tell them the story of how every year you visit the pumpkin patch and then watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown when you get home. You want people to look at the painting of city lights on your wall so you can tell them that it reminds you of the anniversary trip your husband and you took to Chicago. You want people to read the sign "Unending love, amazing grace" you have hanging up so you can tell them that no matter how crazy the day gets there's always that reminder of the grace that God gives us.
It's all about showing and telling your story. Start there friend and then I promise you'll find your style and make your house a home.
Here's a quote very similar to the advice my mother-in-law gave me-
"If you love something, it will work. That's the only real rule" - Bunny Williams
Here is some more GREAT advice that friends of mine on Instagram suggested about meaningful home decor:
- Use a passed down piece for your home decor
- Display family photos on every wall
- Decorate with things that have special meaning or represent a part of your heritage
- Be intentional with the things you love
- Let your personality shine through
- Tie in personal sentiments
- Choose pieces tied to memories
- Think of items like handwritten notes of faith or encouragement that you could frame
- Keep it simple and be you!