Our house is new, and fairly large (almost 3000 square feet), two things that are working against it in my quest to make it charming, cozy, and comfortable. Now before we built this house we lived in the old cottage that came on the property, which was old, tiny, and infested with kitchen mice and attic snakes, so I am not complaining.
It was NOT charming, because it was in such disrepair, and not comfortable, because it was always cold and there was only one bathroom. But it was cozy. I will give it that. Every square inch was used, and the things of life were out on display. Cookbooks, toys, pots, homework. When the cutting garden was in season, it seemed overflowing with flowers. When we had guests, it felt full and bustling. The new house is lacking that somehow. I want to correct it. Here is what I am trying.
1. More things out
This goes against my very nature, as I like things put away. But there is no need to pretend we don’t live here, and no need to exhaust oneself putting away baby toys during naps just to take them out again when she wakes up. And “things” are proof that people live there. Fruit, flowers (from Costco, and quite beautiful), crayons, sugar and flour canisters, a basket of potatoes and onions, even a pot on the stove. They have been invited to live on the counter or breakfast table as evidence of life.
2. Less stuff out for kids.
It is well known that once kids destroy a playroom with toys, they lose interest in it. So they are being made to clean up every evening, not just because it is right, but because when their playroom is a mess they don’t use it. Also it is more of a loft and I have to see it when I go upstairs. Every night they pick up, and every Friday I switch out their toys to keep them interested. If they are in the middle of making an “important store of out of magnets”, I will of course leave it alone.
(Looks like this bookshelf needs a little help!)
3. Keeping the dining table set
So the only picture I have of it appear to be of it not set. But it is much more inviting with plates, place mats, cloth napkins, and silverware. I keep it cleared off to make it easier to wipe down after lunch, and Camilla sets it after her quiet time in the afternoons. It makes the room feel more alive. The sun shines in the front of the house in the afternoons too, and generally cheers everyone up.
4. More people, more animals
Of course nothing makes a house feel more alive than actual life! So we let the kittens in on cold days, play with the baby, and try to enjoy each other’s company. Having guests over is always nice. More babies too. I now sit at the kids little kitchen table while they color. I work on grocery lists and garden plans next to them instead of somewhere else. We feel a little more together, and I find that the more focused attention they get, the less whining there is later.
5. Books, puzzles, board games
TV is so often depressing and isolating. Why not do something that either invites a companion, or allows to you be together in comfortable silence?
In the future, I need to work on getting curtains, getting some rooms painted in warmer, richer colors, and getting some furniture in empty feeling rooms like the dining room, master bedroom, and guest bedroom. I will get there!