Making your house a home

Making your house a home

Moving into a new house can mean exciting beginnings and new memories. However our recent research[i] revealed that for three quarters of us generally it takes two months to feel at home in a new house, and for some it can take a lot longer.

We spoke with Jan Cisek (FSSA, MSc) an Environmental Psychologist at Feng Shui London. He agreed that “moving house is considered to be one of the most stressful events in our lives. Although very often the move is a positive change, people generally don’t like change.” We’ve put together some helpful tips and tricks, with Cisek’s help, that could help speed up the transition from house to home.

During your first week…

Only one in 10 people believe a new house feels like a home immediately. Not every homeowner will have the time or money to do all the modifications they’d like to make straight away. However, there are small steps you can take to get your house feeling more homely within the first week of living there.

1.      Make unpacking part of the process

Remove as much stress out of packing as possible by spending a bit more time planning and organising.

  • Pack a box for essentials, like bedding and toiletries, that you’ll need as soon as you get to your new abode – include some treats to share and stick on some music whilst the unpacking commences to help time fly!
  • Make sure every box is clearly allocated to a room in the house and goes straight to its destination when you arrive, prioritise rooms like the bedroom and the kitchen which usually get used the most.

2.      Get personal from the get go

Although you do need to create a functional living space a few small personal touches will help you start to adapt to your new environment from day one.

  • Prop up favourite photographs or stick the children’s art to the fridge when you get to the new house – this will start to make the place feel like yours straight away. Cisek suggested that, “it’s a good idea to find a new ‘Home Sweet Home’ sign to visually anchor your intentions to transform a new property into your new home.”
  • Our research showed that for one in eight people the smell of their property made a big difference, light some of your favourite candles or get baking in your first week to get the place smelling of home.

3.      Rest up

All that lifting and moving is physically draining to add to the emotional exhaustion of moving house, give yourself the best chance at relaxing when you can in the first week.

  • A quarter of people placing their beds as the second most valued item in their home. According to Cisek, “if you sleep well and feel safe in your new house you’re halfway there.” He explains that “for an extra sense of support and security have a large, solid headboard. If your budget allows, it’s best to have a new bed and a new mattress.”
  • Avoid clutter and electricals in the bedroom if possible so that you can really focus on relaxing before another day of sifting and sorting.
  • Cisek also suggests “If you have a bathtub in your bathroom, make sure that you have regular baths to release any stress.”

During your first month…

Our survey uncovered that it takes an average of 76 days for a new house to feel like a home. So, the first month or two is a crucial time to work towards making your house a home.

1.      Get your hands dirty

It’s hard for somewhere to feel welcoming if there’s broken tiles on the floor, or loose wires hanging from the ceiling. Carrying out essential DIY work, and freshening up your walls with a lick of paint will automatically help your new place feel more like a home and less like a building site. Making minor improvements yourself will help you save money but can make a huge difference.

2.      Focus on frames

According to our study, over a third of people say their pictures and photographs are the most valued items in their homes. So once you’ve finished painting, put up all your artwork and photos, to put your mark on the house and turn it into a place which is personal and unique to you. “The more photos of friends and family you have the better,” says Cisek.

3.      Introduce yourself to the neighbours

Cisek tells us that “social connections make us healthier and help us to live longer.” Introducing yourself to your new neighbours is a great way to feel more settled and have a friendly face to turn to. They’ll be able to help you learn more about the local area and where to find the nearby shops, pubs and parks. They can also share practical advice such as which days the rubbish is collected, or tell you about any community initiatives.

During your first six months…

Feeling settled comes later for some than others – with our survey revealing that one in five people only experience the homely feeling after six months. Here’s a few ways to make these six months count:

1.      Make it your own

During the first half a year, start thinking about bigger projects around the home and small investments that will help create a space you can be excited to come back to.

  • “Start adding warm and soft furnishings to create a warm, cosy and comfortable environment,” recommends Cisek.
  • Think about purchasing the right lighting, which can really set the mood around the home.
  • New furniture will help to add character to your place, even if it’s re-upholstering an old armchair with your favourite material it could make a huge difference.

2.      Surround yourself with nature

Plants make a lovely addition to your new house, and really add life to each room. Not only do they bring the outdoors in and help clean the air, look attractive and can provide a dash of colour. Cisek agrees that you should “make sure that you have some plants in your home and if you’re lucky enough to have a garden – enjoy it and use it as much as possible.”

3.      Share it with friends and family

Cisek suggests that “once you’re quite happy about your home and how it looks, have a house-warming party to help advance the transition of ‘house’ into ‘home’.” If you don’t fancy a party, why not organise a small gathering or host a dinner party to enjoy your new place with your loved ones? There’s nothing that will make your house feel more homely than filling it with your friends and family.

Home is where the heart and mind is…

However long it takes for you to make your house feel homely, you can follow some of these simple steps to help you settle in as quickly as possible. Cisek reveals that “making your home comfortable, warm, interesting and welcoming will enhance your life physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.” It’s important to remember that “home is not simply where the heart is, but where the mind is, too.”

Read Greg and Emily’s story about how they managed to make their first house a home on a budget.

[i]Research carried out by Censuswide research on behalf of Aviva in March 2016, using a random sample of 2,000 adults from across the UK.

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