It’s a deceptively simple question that nearly all designers ask at the start of a project:

“How do you want your home to feel?”

Focusing on this question yourself can work wonders. Defining the feelings you want to cultivate in your home will give your home a purpose. It will help you zero in on the results you want and worry less about each little decision along the way. Ready to give it a try? First you will have a chance to answer the question for yourself, and then we will move on to suggestions for bringing those feelings to life in your home.

Ask the Question

Ideally, ask the question of yourself, and have each person who shares your home also answer the question. Below I have phrased the question a few different ways — sometimes a slightly different angle can help unlock your answer:

  • How do you want your home to feel?
  • How do you want to feel when you walk through the front door?
  • What do you wish guests would think about your home when they come over?
  • What are the top three words you would use to describe how you want your home to feel?

Once you have your answers, continue to the tips below for bringing out those feelings in your home.

If You Want Your Home to Feel Relaxed

A relaxed home is somewhere you don’t have to be afraid to put your feet on the furniture, snuggle the dog on the sofa, and come to breakfast in your PJs. In other words, it’s part attitude and part easy-care materials.

If this is the way you want your home to feel, focus on loosening your expectation of perfection, and accept the fact that a well-loved home will get a bit dinged up. If you feel too tense having a precious antique or heirloom around, consider giving it to a family member who will take good care of it and appreciate having it.

If You Want Your Home to Feel Creative

Fill it with things that feed your creative soul. Keep your art or craft materials out where they can be easily used, prominently display your favorite treasures and tack up photos that inspire you. Play music you love, invite friends over (even if your house isn’t clean) and set an example by showing you are enjoying making the most of your beautifully imperfect home.

If You Want Your Home to Feel Peaceful

A sanctuary is a place of peace, where you can restore and revive yourself away from the bustle of the outside world. There are many different ways to make your home feel this way. See if any of these resonate with you:

  • Use cool colors and soft neutrals.
  • Keep clutter to a minimum.
  • Don’t stress about keeping things overly neat or clean — sometimes a peaceful space is one in which you can simply flop down and relax!
  • Revive your senses with interesting textures, from rough to smooth, and delicious scents.
  • Keep bothersome noises and light at bay with thick drapes or blackout shades.

If You Want Your Home to Feel Welcoming

A welcoming home is one that makes you breathe a great big sigh of relief the moment you walk through the door. If your home isn’t doing that for you, take a moment to really consider why. Do you need to clear some junk out of your entryway or add a lamp so you are greeted with a warm glow? Put up family photos that make you smile, and make sure there is plenty of seating for guests.

If You Want Your Home to Feel Fun

First, commit to having more fun at home! Carve out the time in your schedule (and away from your screens) to spend on family activities, hobbies you enjoy and just kicking back. Try to loosen up decorating-wise too — try a new piece of wall decor or a paint color without overthinking it. Let’s face it: Most decorating mistakes are not so horrible that they can’t be fixed with a little spackle and paint, or a trip to return something to the store.

If You Want Your Home to Feel Authentic

Be yourself at home, and surround yourself with things you love. Stack up your favorite books. Don’t apologize for the state of your house when friends come over. Be realistic about what level of clutter and cleanliness you feel comfortable with, and make a commitment to keep your home “good enough.”

If You Want Your Home to Feel Safe

Speak kind words to your family members and friends. Be a good listener. Boosting privacy can make a home feel more secure to be in, so consider adding privacy hedges or a fence outside, and window coverings that offer good privacy inside.

If You Want Your Home to Feel Happy

Make a list of what you imagine people in a happy home do, and pick three of these things to do this week. Perhaps for you it means having more sit-down family dinners or having friends drop by midweek, or maybe it’s having the time to sink into your favorite chair and get lost in a good book. Artwork can also provide a visual reminder to enjoy your happy home — look for original art and prints that make you happy and put them up where you will see them daily.

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