Lifestyle: Making a House a Home

When people ask me where I live, its probably the most awkward of questions. When I answer “I have two houses”, I always get the same comments back: “Oh check you out!” or “Two houses? Wow“. But it’s really not that exciting. I basically bought my own house on my own, in which a couple of months later, I met my boyfriend, who had also just bought his own house.

Fast forward two years down the line, we live between both houses: Manchester and Stoke. His house is much nearer to my work, but my house is much nearer to my family and friends (and blog events and blog work!), so it means I split my time 50/50 between the two.

Yes, it’s a bit messy, and its certainly not ideal, but its how I currently live and I’m making the best of it! We literally treat my Manchester house as our ‘holiday home’ – long weekends in Manchester for going out and doing fun stuff, and basing ourselves in Stoke-on-Trent in the week for work.

Having two homes mean I’m in charge of making them both cosy abodes, yet also differentiating them. For example, our Stoke home is more of ‘the mans house’ – it’s minimal and everything was chosen by my boyfriend, Martin. It’s a big house, with a large garden and a double drive, making it more of the ‘forever home’. Mine on the other hand is a cute and girly terrace with that little bit of an old cottage style to it. It’s decorated to a modern finish, it’s clean and classic, and its pretty small, making it more of a little hideaway house of the two.

Its the perfect starter home, and its now become our ideal holiday home until it goes up for sale. So for now, here’s some little tips which have helped me make both houses two homes….

1. Choose muted, minimal colours

For a small house, keep the colour scheme neutral, muted and fuss-free, otherwise you’ll risk it looking too busy, thus making it look smaller. For my terrace, I went for a soft grey sofa with light wood furnishings, and decorated with cream cushions. If you want to make a bit of a statement, look at some bolder accessories, like initial cushions, art work with quotes and text on, or matching coasters and photo frames etc in one statement colour.

You don’t have to just stick with white wash walls to stay minimal too, you can look for cream with a darker cream stripe, or with a light pattern in a different texture, but the same colour. There are lots of ideas which give a clean, fresh finish, making the rooms appear much bigger than they actually are.

2. Let your home make life easier for you

When I first moved in, I scrimped and saved like crazy. But looking back, it ruined the quality of moving into my first home. For example, I had a little two seater grey/brown sofa for the first year, which I bought for £150 from a work friend. 12 months down the line, I opted for a lovely big grey corner sofa, and it completely transforms the room. But not only that, it makes it easier to have friends round, so they actually have somewhere to gather and sit.

If you have poor hot water flow, some people put up with it, thinking they’ll get it all checked out later down the line. But who has the time to go waiting for a hot shower? If you invest in a booster pump, you can solve this problem, and it just makes life easier.

It’s like if you have a dodgy hob or a dial on your oven doesn’t work, and you plan to leave it until a time when everything else is done. But it means you can only cook one pan at a time, or can’t oven cook your food for a while. Look at your everyday priorities and try to remember to get the things done that make life easier!

3. Add Some florals

You don’t have to buy a full blown bouquet every Sunday for the house, but one small bunch of flowers in a glass vase every fortnight makes such a difference. I’ve done this at my own house for a while, but its something we didn’t replicate at Martin’s house. Anyway, I’ve started to bring that little habit of mine over to his, regularly buying a £5 bunch of flowers every second weekend.

By placing a bright, beautifully scented bunch of flowers in one of your rooms (I always go for the dining room as its the biggest space), you create that sense of femininity and freshness, and it makes everyday feel like Spring – even though we’re creeping into the horrid Winter.

4. Accessorise to reflect you and your personality

What I love about our two houses is that they clearly define who we both are. You walk into my house, and you’re greeted with a large minimalist designed Tom Ford book, and various prints of fashion illustrations and clothing sketches. You instantly know that the home owner is related to the field of fashion, and cares a lot about style.

Walk into Martins house, and you find piles of outdoor books and walking magazines. He has some artwork around the house which is quite deep-meaning, showing he can be fairly controversial, and the fact its quite empty and not crowded with items shows just how un-materialistic he is.

Make sure you decorate and accessorise your house with a touch of you. Whatever your hobbies, interests and daily inspirations are, make sure they have a space for showing off. You want the house to wrap around you and your life, and thus, represent you.

5. Make cleaning the number 1 priority

Remember that whenever you have guests, they are always going to use that one room: the bathroom. A lot of people don’t give it much thought, but the bathroom is the one room in the house you’ll get judged on the most. And a dirty, unclean bathroom is possibly the worst thing you can have!

Always have cleaning products, whether it be quick-to-use wipes or a spray can, to hand for quick wipe-downs. Always have fragrance in the room, and always have bleach and toilet fresheners around the toilet. Try to get in the habit of cleaning it often, as its so easy to get mucky as it gets used multiple times a day, and its not particularly a room you chose to spend much time in. A product I recommend personally is one to remove and demolish signs of mould, like this mould remover spray. It’s not the nicest of jobs, but using a spray like this makes it so quick and easy, and its an effective way of keeping the bathroom clean and free from rotting.

Do you have any little handy tips which help to keep your house looking like a home, without breaking the bank? Do let me know in the comments if you like!

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