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What makes a house homely?

(52 Posts)
Meta4 Sun 18-Dec-11 19:19:41

Arrgghh. This frustrates me so much.

My house just doesn't feel homely to me, and I just can't put my finger on why.

So what makes a house homely - and what doesn't?!

PigletJohn Sun 18-Dec-11 19:22:51

A contented cat

people that aren't arguing

people that love each other

not too brightly lit

not too much new stuff

smell of cooking

what else?

Akiram Sun 18-Dec-11 19:24:54

Hmm I don't know. People say things like books, pictures, etc etc but I know that my last home never felt homely even with all that. No matter what I did it didn't change the feel of it. The house I live in now felt homely from day 1. We haven't got any new furniture and it isn't decorated to our taste but it has a totally different feel to it. Even friends comment on how homely it is.
Sorry that wasn't much help was it

discrete Sun 18-Dec-11 19:26:27

A wood stove.

Cozy rooms.

Smell of nice food cooking.


PeppaPigandGeorge Sun 18-Dec-11 19:27:13

My house didn't feel homely until I re-arranged the living room furniture. Nothing new, just moved, made a massive difference.

Actually, that isn't true - I bought new lamps and I think they helped a lot.

Akiram Sun 18-Dec-11 19:27:21

I think Piglet has a very good point. Lighting can make all the difference.

mistressploppy Sun 18-Dec-11 19:30:07

I think the right level of tidiness/untidiness is key. Too pristine and it feels show-homey (to me) and too messy and it feels sordid and unloved.

And lighting, like Piglet says.

And having ticking clocks and radios on in the background

fannybanjo Sun 18-Dec-11 19:30:48

Lamps, cushions, rugs, photos of family, warm colours, furniture not pushed against walls is very important in rooms where you have too much space. Flowers, not too much clutter but not clinical. Lots of pillows on beds, throws. Mirrors. Candles.

Get0rf Sun 18-Dec-11 19:31:37

I would say lamps at below waist height as opposed to ceiling lights.

It is all very personal though isn't it. I have has this conversation with my (much loved) MIL. She thinks her house is homely - but to me it has too much clutter and furniture. She thinks that my house is spartan because of the lack of curtains, carpets and soft furnishings, but to me it is very cosy.

sweetboysmum Sun 18-Dec-11 19:34:19

I'm beginning to think some colour on the walls makes a difference. We moved in to this place in a hurry and had it all painted pale cream. Apart from one wall it's still the same 3 years later. My neighbours have the same house, high ceilings etc, and there house is cosy and has some colour. Ours is a bit cold and clinical.

BastardDog Sun 18-Dec-11 19:36:33

Soft furnishings
Clean, but not totally tidy.
For a house to be a home, not everything in it should be new and pristine.
Happy, contented occupants.

fannybanjo Sun 18-Dec-11 19:40:26

Children playing with toys is what makes my house a home. Nothing lovelier than sitting on couch and watching them play nicely with jigsaws or their Sylvanian families.

DillyTinsel Sun 18-Dec-11 19:41:41

My house has laminate and I hate it! So unhomely. Lamps are important.

Get0rf Sun 18-Dec-11 19:42:21

I would disagree with a lot of these!

My idea of homely

Clean and uncluttered. No shit or ornaments or stuff.
No cushions. I think they look messy.
Books on shelves.
Lots of space, half empty rooms look cosier to me than ones full of furniture.

FriedSprout Sun 18-Dec-11 19:46:10

Lots of different textures in furnishings, some stuff on display that has been home-made by you and/or the kids and green plants that are healthy. Also soft bulbs in lamps.

PigletJohn Sun 18-Dec-11 19:47:15

I think we can all agree that shit does not help.

Get0rf Sun 18-Dec-11 19:51:23

grin ok then piglet I will change my 'shit' for 'bric-a-brac'

teacoupons Sun 18-Dec-11 20:07:43

Colour makes a huge difference. Since painting the kitchen a rich forest green with red accents it feels much more warm in there whereas before it often seemed a sterile environment.

Lighting is a big one to me. I like lamps and clear fairy lights but I'm not a fan of ceiling lights.

Rugs, photos, scented candles, the smell of baking, pets, throws, scatter cushions - things you like to personalise the space can often help.

fannybanjo Sun 18-Dec-11 20:19:16

My cushions NEVER look messy!

Alouisee Sun 18-Dec-11 20:26:08

I think that the flow is key to having a good feel in a home. Taking photographs of the rooms and layouts and looking at them rather than the room itself helps with placement.

lambethlil Sun 18-Dec-11 20:36:29

Not central lighting- ie side lamps. Real smells- cooking, fire- not air fresheners.

cantpooinpeace Sun 18-Dec-11 20:38:51

Framed lovely photos of precious people/moments.

The right temperature.

In winter a fire/wood burner.

A settee that looks comfy & is comfy.

The smell of a hearty meal cooking.

A full coat rack!

Curb appeal - still love the look of my house each time I pull onto the drive <double fronted like the pictures I used to draw as a child>

exoticfruits Sun 18-Dec-11 20:38:56

Pictures, photographs, lots of books, indications that people have interests and hobbies and not ones where the carpet comes before people!
Also Christmas cards at this time of year, not where people don't put them up because 'it spoils their decorations'!

sarahfreck Mon 19-Dec-11 13:32:26

Books and plants make things more warm and lived in I think.

HughBastard Mon 19-Dec-11 13:33:41


Bonsoir Mon 19-Dec-11 13:34:31

Being clean and tidy.

Having comfortable furnishings: soft sofas, deep armchairs, thick rugs etc. Materials with depth and texture. There is nothing less homely than lots of hard surfaces, especially synthetic surfaces.

jalopy Mon 19-Dec-11 15:11:46

Lovely smell
Warm colours
Subtle lighting
Cosy textiles/furnishing

SardineQueen Mon 19-Dec-11 15:21:01

Not too pristine - having some things around that show that people actually live there.
Houseplants? I love houseplants.
I like to have some unusual or colourful things about the place.

A bit of character I guess - to suit whatever your character is

LoveInASnowyClimate Mon 19-Dec-11 15:27:59

Warm lighting. Books. Different textures in textiles.

BoffinMum Mon 19-Dec-11 22:55:43

Shun flatpacks.
Contrive a fireplace and light the fire regularly.
Spit in the face of magnolia paint and choose colour instead.
Collect antique and shabby chic furniture at every opportunity. The local tip is your friend - I have got some amazing stuff there.
Avoid anything that looks like a Next or IKEA roomset.
Make your house appeal to each of the five senses.

madmomma Tue 20-Dec-11 00:19:49

Furniture or objects that have history and meaning. I think homely homes have a sense of used-ness. Not too much new, or matchy matchy stuff.

MarTURKEYSTEWart Tue 20-Dec-11 00:24:06

I think all the above posts show it is subjective!

To me? Pets, a bit of clutter, foody smells.

mumblechum1 Tue 20-Dec-11 00:30:22

My house is homely. Warm colours, fires, woodburner, always have nice candles lit every night, huge sofas with lots of big cushions (sorry Getorf!), lots of lamps giving soft lighting. Big old rugs on wooden floors.

Went for dinner not long ago and I honestly thought they were in the middle of building work - laminate floors, no rugs, leather sofas with no cushions, no pictures, no curtains or blinds, only decoration a spiky metal fruit bowl, all white. Felt bloody horrible. And a bright ceiling light.

PastGrace Tue 20-Dec-11 00:45:59

All of the above, but especially photos, nice curtains, and rugs/cushions.

Also, it sounds silly, but I think investing in a few "nice" mugs (not necessarily expensive, but matching and big enough to wrap your hands around) and a teapot. A house is homely whenever there's a pot of tea and a mug waiting. And maybe a plate of biscuits.

My friends always used to comment that my student flat felt like a proper home - the only thing I did differently to anyone else was having a proper teapot.

Janni Tue 20-Dec-11 00:47:58

Relaxed, contented people, smell of cooking, comfortable furnishings and rooms that aren't too pristine, clean toilets, plants/flowers, photos

countlessbabychams Tue 20-Dec-11 00:51:16

A few shoes about,newspaper and school books on the coffee table,a cat stretched out on the settee and a nice coal fire.
Warm colours and textures.
A bit of well loved scruffiness about the place.
Washing drying on the radiators.
Just a sense of people leading their lives.

CeliaChristmasFete Tue 20-Dec-11 08:59:35

Warmth - a fire or central heating
Ambient lighting
Family photos on display
Personal nick nacks (not generic stuff from Next - it makes everyone's house look the same)
Warm colours - neutrals with a rich colour like plum, raspberry red or chocolate brown
Enough "clutter" to look lived in but not messy
A feeling of "I can take my shoes off (or keep them on if I wish!!) and put my feet up here and RELAX".
I've been to friends' houses that are immaculate and beautifully decorated, but I can't wait to leave because I feel I can't move, breathe or sit back in case I muck up their cushion arrangement.

BoffinMum Tue 20-Dec-11 10:41:09

Funny, I have never thought of the teapot thing, but there's something in that.
I have a lovely Pink Plum Emma Bridgewater teapot and some outsize cups and saucers that I got for a wedding present that serves exactly that purpose!

wasabipeanut Tue 20-Dec-11 16:12:21

For me, it's all about stuff! Rugs, throws, cushions, lots of older bits and pieces. I don't like lots of hard surfaces. I think if you buy stuff you love and don't worry too much about stuff matching then you won't go far wrong. I love my knackered, red Roberts radio too.

Several people have said they love our utility room - which is a bit odd. We use it as the main door and its full of boots, shoes, coats, school bags etc. plus veg rack, egg bowl and laundry stuff. It has a big red and white stripey rug (machine washable!) The cupboards are covered in soaked off wine labels - and one wall is a wine rack. blush People seem to like it because if you wanted a snapshot of our family, it's about as good a starting point as any.

The problem is of course that it takes time to build a house like this rather than go to Ikea, Next etc. and buy lots of cream and brown stuff.

I love the cats too. If we have been away and the cats are in a cattery, it doesn't feel like home until they are back.

Sloobreeus Tue 20-Dec-11 16:16:47

The house being warm at this time of the year. No harsh, centre lights i.e. use standard lamps or table lamps instead. If your furnishings are shades of one dull colour, get some bright cushions. If no real fire, get something with a flame effect (there are some quite good electric fires that look like wood stoves, try Dimplex). Agree with whoever said a cat asleep on the rug or chair. Books. Lots of them.

MarshaBrady Tue 20-Dec-11 16:20:09

Good solid wood.
Tidy, clean
Warm. Very warm lighting not harsh at night. Many sources, lamps etc.
Sunny and light in the day.
Good paint on walls and thick sumptuous curtains.

cat64 Tue 20-Dec-11 16:22:01

Message withdrawn

33goingon64 Wed 21-Dec-11 22:29:47

Agree with all this. DH's old house felt really un-homely. All the furniture was from Ikea (not knocking Ikea per se but there was just too much of it and it was all that orangey wood), no second hand stuff, awful generic prints on wall, no rug or lamps, cheap curtains, it just felt like an office not a home. Dsis's house is all very expensive sofas, cushions and everything matching and it has no soul. No books, no personal things anywhere. The other thing that many others have said is that you need warmth, the sound should be not bouncing off all the hard surfaces, it should be clean but not pristine and there should be personal things around to tell a story.

Chumpalina Thu 22-Dec-11 10:04:24

Colour, and things that don't always match, and time to settle.

This sounds a bit mental but I found looking at rooms through a mirror (standing with your back to the room, looking into a mirror at the room) gives you a totally different perspective, 'new eyes', as if you were a guest, and things stand out - nice parts and bits that look rubbish - the wall with no picture on as there's a zig zag electric cable behind it in my case.

DonkeyTeapot Thu 22-Dec-11 11:34:07

Family, according to a badly embroidered cushion the MIL gave me when DD was born.

Before anyone jumps on me, it isn't a hand made cushion that she has spent hours pains-takingly sewing as a special gift for me, it is machine made and embroidered with the words "Family makes a house a home" but the letters are all different sizes. The cushion itself is only about 5x7" so also too small to be of any actual use.

Sorry to hijack, I just thought everyone ought to know the cushion's answer to the OP's question.

racingheart Thu 22-Dec-11 23:34:00

Our house always looks 100% more homely when I give it a bit of love. Tidy everywhere, hoover and polish, fresh flowers, a bit more space and much less clutter and it shifts from looking dreary to looking beautiful.

Depends on the house though. Ours is old and knackered so keeping it looking bright makes a huge difference. If it was new build I'd do the opposite and soften the edges by growing plants up the outside walls and putting rugs down on the floorboards.

Then the atmosphere is up to you. A snoozing cat, fresh coffee and baking bread, radio on, warm laundry smells, toys in evidence but not dominating every room are what makes our house feel happy and welcoming.

echt Tue 27-Dec-11 23:16:41

I second the unmatched look; none of our sofas and chairs match. Side lighting, not overhead. Rugs. Tons of books and quite a lot of art - paintings and sculpture. Flowers in vases. Big squashy sofas. Cushions. Lots of fleecy throws for cuddling up to watch the telly.

Oddly, despite being an avid gardener, no plants in the house, but they can be seen from the windows. Being in Australia means there's always something in flower and or leaf.

butternut234 Wed 28-Dec-11 14:12:49

Ohhhh DonkeyTeapot I was given that cushion too. No idea what to do with it. Currently a pillow for a random soft toy I think...

Ponders Wed 28-Dec-11 14:21:53


housemum Wed 28-Dec-11 18:04:57

A friend of mine has a lovely album of photos on Facebook that she called "Home Things That Make Me Happy", I think the key to homeliness is having things around (which does not necessarily mean clutter!) that make you smile. Things I can think of that make me smile/make my house feel homely to me include the patchwork quilted throw on our bed, the nice bookcase full of children's books, our dining table, an Emma Bridgewater butter dish in the kitchen. Stupid things, but to me they are homely

DonkeyTeapot Wed 28-Dec-11 19:32:52

Butternut I chucked it behind a chest of drawers put it in a safe place.

Littlepurpleprincess Sat 31-Dec-11 20:39:39

I'd say:

toys all over the rug in the lounge
a box of colouring pencils on the kitchen table
children's artwork on the fridge
books, lots of them
wicker baskets
rugs, blankets and cushions
a tea pot
mugs scattered here and there
candles that have actually been burned a bit, not just for show
soft lighting
a pear tree in the garden (quite specific that one)
the smell of cooking
washing on the line
a dog

I also agree about colour but unfortunately live in a rented house, so no colour, and no dog...oh and the bathroom is horrible.

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