What distinguishes a house from a home? The people in it, the ambience, the whole feel of lived-in comfort and the sense of belonging associated with a place one lives in day after day. Home, effectively, is life’s base camp. It is where one feels most at ease, “at home” with oneself and the world. Four walls do not a prison make, wrote Richard Lovelace in To Althea from Prison. Well, they don’t make a home either. Home is where loved ones sleep and eat and play and spend a good part of their everyday lives.
A special place like home deserves special attention. A living room with drab furnishings not only makes you feel gloomy, it doesn’t evoke the spirit of well-being that every home should radiate. But do it up in a splash of warm colours–throws, cushions, curtains and drapes–and it is transformed into a haven you look forward to return to every evening after work. A deeply cushioned couch in front of the television, your favourite paintings on the walls and soft, effective lighting can make your living room the perfect space to unwind.
The master bedroom can be done up in soft shades for a romantic feel, or in playful greens and blues for a quirky twist. Pamper yourself with a down mattress and huge futon, or stick to crisp sheets that cut an elegant silhouette. A bedroom with a view, or even with large bay windows to let the moonlight in, lit minimally and with aesthetic decorative sense, is on everyone’s wish list.
Be sure to throw in colourful warm rugs, or straw mats for summer. Use light-coloured, breezy curtains in hot weather and velvet-satin ones to keep away the cold. Cushions can liven up a room like few things can. Be adventurous, grab that zebra printed bean bag for your TV area, and that little wood chest for a coffee table. And you may jazz up the side tables with everything from pebbles to pine cones and dried flowers, to curios and souvenirs.
Most importantly, keep everything clean. If you have too much furniture and odds and ends, make sure there’s a method to the madness. A home should feel like it has been lived in, not like a hotel room. That special photograph on the mantle, your kid’s painting on the wall and perhaps a vase your grandmother passed on to your mom who passed it on to you–these are the tid-bits of home improvement that turn a house into a home.