12 Simple Ways to Make a New House Feel Like Home

Inside: When you first move into a new place, it feels like an exciting fresh start. A clean slate. But that can feel a little… lonely. Here are the ten best ways to make a new house feel like home

You have your keys, your paperwork, and a car full of boxes. Sure, you’re excited about a new space. But then you open the door for the first time and see those open, empty floors, the scuffs on the wall that were hidden before, and all those paint colors picked by someone else.

View of a neighborhood from a porch with hanging flowers, potted plants, and sunny skies.

And you feel…weird. Your old house, for all its flaws, was your home. You’ve been dropped into a new place, and it will take some getting used to.

1. Pick One Room to Unpack First

Get one room set up, 100%, on day one. Since the kitchen is probably too ambitious, the master bedroom is a good choice. That means everything from furniture to a tissue box on a side table in one particular room should be set up right away.

Why is this a good technique for making your space homey? When your whole house feels out of sorts and chaotic, you feel out of sorts too. And you get that feeling of doing a lot of work and not really making any progress. Each box you unpack seems to make more of a mess and makes things look worse, not better.

Bright bedroom with a wooden bed, patchwork quilt, large windows, plants, and pastel-colored walls.

When one room is totally unpacked, you feel like you’ve made real progress. It gives you the motivation to keep going and a nice comfy place to rest when you need a break.

Make sure your first memories in your new home are nice ones by giving yourself a space that feels good right away. Okay, you can set up your internet. First things first.

2. Make it Fun for the Kids

It’s important to take special care that your children are excited about your new home and neighborhood, too. Once you move, plan a list of family activities to try each week. Enjoy a picnic at the park and ice cream at your local creamery, or a trip to your local craft store so the kids can paint canvases to decorate their new rooms. 

Children playing on the grass in a sunny yard surrounded by trees and houses.

You also want to dedicate lots of time to playing in your new house so it feels like a fun and exciting change. A family game of hiding and seek will have everyone scrambling to discover the best new hiding spot.

However, if you choose to celebrate your new home, prioritize family time throughout the move to help everyone relax and get excited.

Click the image below to download this free kids scavenger hunt for the first few days.

3. Pack a First-Night Box, With Extras

You’ve probably heard of this concept before: instead of rummaging through your silverware to find a roll of toilet paper, pack a box that holds very everything you need the first night for easy access. So you’ll want coffee supplies, a few dishes, and, yes, the bathroom essentials.

But we can do a little better than this, right?

Add your very favorite books, your best family photos, and anything else that will make you feel happy on day one. Be honest about this! If you don’t like reading or family photos, pick something else! Candles, a movie, your coziest slippers? Just choose some things beyond the necessities to give your new place that extra home feeling.

4. Go to the Local Grocery Store ASAP

Unless you’ve moved down the street, you probably have a new grocery store. Exciting! Really. Go check it out and stock your fridge. After all, nothing says “fresh start” like a brand-new set of condiments.

Whether it’s a new city or just a new neighborhood, getting familiar with your local surroundings helps that new house feel more comfortable.

And when you leave and then come back over and over, coming back starts to feel like coming home.

5. Hang Art on the Walls

This is standard new house advice, so common that it’s easy to dismiss it as overly generic. But it’s so, so true. Nothing says “just moved in!” like bare walls (except maybe unpacked moving boxes). Pictures are so awkward and bulky that it’s just as easy to hang them up to store them somewhere else. Have an artwork hanging kit easily accessible, and hang them as you come across them. You can perfect the locations later. For now, just get them up.

6. Eat in the Dining Room

Yes, those first few nights will be eating takeout and using a box as a table. But try to limit the time you’re doing this to a few days. As soon as you can, set up the eating area, you’ll be using in your new house.

Dining room with a checkered tablecloth, set table, floral centerpiece, and plaid curtains.

If it’s your first week in the new place, for the love of Pete, make it a simple recipe.

7. Open the Windows

There’s something symbolic about fresh air and getting enough light into a space. Out with the old, in with the new.

8. Add Living Things

This is a classic way to bring life (literally) to a house that feels a little cold. It can be anything from your dog to some fresh flowers from the grocery store. If you’ve moved into a place with a yard, try introducing some greenery from the outdoors. As in, cut some green stuff from outside, stick it in a glass of water, and put it under the kitchen window.

There’s something magic about flowers and greenery and what they can do to make a new house feel lived in.

The Joy of HomeThe Joy of HomeFeels Like Home: Relaxed Interiors for a Meaningful LifeFeels Like Home: Relaxed Interiors for a Meaningful LifeA Home to Share: Designs that Welcome Family and Friends, from the creator of My 100 Year Old HomeA Home to Share: Designs that Welcome Family and Friends, from the creator of My 100 Year Old HomeMemory-Making Mom: Building Traditions That Breathe Life Into Your HomeMemory-Making Mom: Building Traditions That Breathe Life Into Your HomeMaking a House a Home: Designing Your Interiors from the Floor UpMaking a House a Home: Designing Your Interiors from the Floor UpHouse + Love = Home: Creating Warm, Intentional Spaces for a Beautiful LifeHouse + Love = Home: Creating Warm, Intentional Spaces for a Beautiful Life


9. Family Photos +Personal Style

Even a new home that feels very unlike you will start seeming homier when adding your personal style. If you’re comparing the new house to the old one, remember how different the old one looked when you moved out and it was stripped of your personal belongings.

Paint colors, plants, and other small details in home decor will add up over time and make a huge difference.

10. Invite People Over

Being the host makes you feel at home. When guests arrive, you are in charge of your new place, which helps you settle in. They call it “housewarming” for a reason. Having a gathering of close friends really does warm the place up.

Besides, seeing familiar faces in a new space is cheerful.

11. Leave for Awhile

There’s something about leaving your home behind that makes it really feel like home when you get back. After a day or so away, you’ll see that new place through fresh eyes. It won’t seem so new anymore, just familiar. And that’s a good thing.

12. Take Pictures of Your Rooms

This is one of the best ways to get a realistic look at what your new house looks like. Super cluttered? Bare? Leftover boxes in the corner of the kids’ rooms? A camera doesn’t lie. If something still feels off, take some quick phone snapshots of each room; any glaring issues will be obvious.

How long until my house feels like home?

Annoying answer: it depends. Every time I have moved, it’s taken about a year to really get there.

Cozy reading nook with a floral armchair, plaid pillows, small table, and a stack of books.

The more time you spend at home, doing simple everyday things like rearranging your photos and cleaning the fridge, the faster you will get there.

If you are feeling sad about leaving your old home behind, know that this is totally normal. Even if you were excited about this move and disliked your previous home, change is still hard. There will be new memories here too.

Enjoy your new house, and enjoy the adventure of making it inviting and happy. You will get there.

12 Simple Ways to Make a New House Feel Like Home

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