A home is different from a house. A house is just a building, but a home represents so much more. No matter the size of your family, or even if you live alone, you can make the place you live feel like a home. Here are five things that will change a simple dwelling place into a refuge for all who enter.
When family members and friends enter your home, they can feel relaxed and happy if there is peace. I try to keep fighting to a minimum, and the feelings of moral support high. I want my children to feel comfortable discussing the things they are learning and thinking about without feeling judged. I want friends and extended family to feel welcome.
Improve peace in your home by listening more, showing patience and being selfless. Teach your family members to do the same by setting a good example. Peace in a home brings a special spirit and goes along with the other feeling that should be most present in a home — love.
Every mother wishes for a home full of love. There are many ways to show love at home. Hug, kiss and cuddle your family members, even those stubborn teenagers. Express love often with words of kindness and praise. Love is shown in baskets of folded laundry, healthful meals on the table, gifts and celebrations and time spent together. Even though my parents didn't express their love in words or affection often, I still knew of their love for me by the way they cared for me and valued my place in our family.
I tend to be a very orderly person, and I know not everyone is that way. However, order in a home contributes to both peace and comfort. It's difficult to relax together if the home is dirty or overly cluttered. Order can be taken to the other extreme, where a home is so clean and tidy that it feels sterile and unwelcoming.
Use order to your advantage in your home by having places for reading, playing games and relaxing, teaching and learning and privacy. Children adore having their own space and will enjoy decorating it and making it their own. My sister's family of five has lived in a very small home for over 10 years. It's a beautiful, functional space. When my family visits and all 11 of us are there, it doesn't feel too crowded because there is order.
Even if your home doesn't have the perfect floor plan or the newest finishes, it can always be comfortable. A comfortable home is one that people want to stay in. Place furniture in arrangements that allow for good communication and flow throughout the space. I like to have comfy pillows and throw blankets on couches so my family and friends can curl up for reading or even taking a nap.
Take care of your home so it is energy efficient and can be cool or heated as needed. Consider curb appeal and add flowers to the front of the home, as well as houseplants inside. Plants make people happy and clean the air. Your home is not a bed and breakfast, but a spirit of hospitality will make your guests and family feel comfortable.
The last element I'm defining as playfulness. It's the idea that everyone can be themselves at home. Kids like to be goofy and silly sometimes, and parents do, too. Home should be a place to relax, unwind and feel free of the pressures the outside world brings. In my home, playfulness is manifest in dance parties, wrestling matches, loud singing, games of hide-and-seek and hanging out in pajamas well past morning.
Don’t despair if your home isn’t worthy of a magazine cover. It can still be a place of comfort, peace, order and love.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.