What does it mean to be 'House Proud'?
Some believe bigger is better, that home size is connected to one’s level of happiness for their dwelling.
Some believe that interiors are the star attractions – shiny new furnishings hit the mark making them social media worthy.
Still others believe their outdoor spaces and the views are the main draws.
I don’t have the perfect answer, but for us, we are feeling the most house proud since our last renovation. Being serial fixer upper enthusiasts, the 5th iteration of our home is what makes us feel the best about our house. It has had the most impact on how we live and the pride that comes with living better. This time, we dug deep to discover who we are and how we live and what would make us happy, to make us house proud.
With doom and gloom in economic reports, higher food prices and higher energy bills, our dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it used to. With so many of us still working from home, how can we be house proud without the necessary financial resources to get there?
Although I spoke of a renovation improving our way of living in our house, that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. The only resources we really need are a bit of time, some patience, some creativity and some elbow grease. Being house proud doesn’t have to cost the earth, take hours and hours nor special skills to achieve the desired end results:
- Let’s look at what adorns your walls. What can you do to freshen things up? Swap out your art. Play musical chairs with them. Take similarly sized wall art and switch them around. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the impact of doing something so simple.
- Swap out the images inside frames. Or you can color print a new image, abstract or otherwise. You can also replace your existing with favorite vacation postcards, a special greeting card or inspirational quotes.
- Corral kids’ art by giving them designated locations. Here are two ideas for allowing your kids to see their creations proudly displayed whist keeping them from getting too out of control.
1. Have a bulletin board for each child. Let them pin up their masterpieces and they can arrange them as they like. The boards are finite display spaces that keep the artwork from creeping onto other surfaces such as walls, windows or fridge doors.
2. You can also take photos of your favorites. You can utilize any software program or App to arrange them onto poster size paper formats. Have them color printed at your local printing house or office supply store. Do this for every child. Frame them up and you’ll end up with the most personal, meaningful and beautiful art for your home, and your kids will swell with pride to see their creations elevated to such a pleasing display.
- Art doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can be very meaningful. We hung up a favorite vinyl record cover. Many stores sell frames specifically sized for this purpose. We also framed a set of coasters depicting the works of my favorite French Painter, Toulouse Lautrec. We bought them at a Parisian gallery gift shop knowing we would never actually use them for wet cups, so displaying them seemed a fun idea.
- Replace incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs with LED light bulbs. 100 W=18 W LED, 1,600-2,000 lumens. You’ll have better quality light that uses far less energy and are longer lasting. Our new LED potlights don’t feel like we are on a stage nor interrogated by law enforcement! They feel more like sunlight bathing evenly in our spaces.
- Fresh flowers may be scarce commodities during the dreary winter months. But Chrysanthemums are cheap, cheerful and come in a variety of colors and styles. They last about 2 weeks and are readily available at most grocery stores. So the next time you go for a cereal run, pick up a small bouquet.
Literally remove everything that sits on surfaces such as mantles, dressers, consoles and open shelving units. Put back about 50% of the decor, some in different places than before. Let it all sink in. Put away the remaining. In a few months, rotate the items, trying hard not to exceed that 50%. Think of your home as a gallery for rotating exhibits.
- Splurge on new hand towels for the powder room or a new liquid hand soap. They’re easy, inexpensive purchases that can cheer up a small, utilitarian space. I like to indulge myself with L’Occitane Lavender hand soap. It smells so good and cleans without drying out the skin too much. We often find our friends smelling their hands after using it!
- Get a small bucket of spackle, small trowels and gentle sand paper. Repair those nicks and scrapes on your walls. Then paint the affected areas. I’m sure you have leftover paint from which you can use a dab or two to finish your repairs. This job may take a couple of hours, but it’s not high on the difficulty level and you’ll love the results.
- Sort out your shoes! I’m sure many of you have a pair or two that can be thrown out or donated. Those who enjoy a ‘no shoes in the house’ policy often end up with shelving units by the front door, crammed with footwear. It’s unsightly and smelly! Our small house doesn’t have a front hall closet, but we installed wall mounted shoe storage units which hang nicely near the front door. They don’t hold many pairs, but the rest sit in a closet under the stairs.
- Treat your olfactory nerves with a scented candle or essential oils. They will relax and give you a feeling of a fresh smelling home. Scent makes an incredible impact!
- Create a nice atmosphere with soft music or even have your TV set on the fireplace channel! It’s cheesy but most people love that kind of cheese!
- Find some really interesting house plants and pots. My Mexican Fishbone Cactus is always the talking point of any gatherings. Propagating was free and it’s fun to watch another one growing from a tiny clipping. We happened upon the pot in a cute home décor store. It reminds us of Harry POTter! The other plant is called a Pilea, and the planter is from a chain furniture store. Love how it looks like an uber cool man with a good coif!
- Remove everything on your fridge doors. Give them a good clean. Then walk away. See if you can live with it that way for awhile.
- If you are upset about not displaying the cute fridge magnets acquired from vacations past, try grouping them as framed art.
- Create a binder for all takeout menus. I did this years ago and it was literally life changing! We used to just stuff them into a drawer unit. And when we wanted to order some food, we often found the restaurants closed years before or that 50% off coupon didn’t work anymore. We also found multiples of the same menus from various restaurants. It was such a mess! Finally I came up with the idea of a binder. I inserted clear plastic sleeves so I can easily pop the menus into them back to back. You can categorize by cuisine as I have done. Now when we get new menus in our mailbox, I let them pile up for a week or so, then go to the binder and replace the old with the new. If I have menus which haven’t been used for a long time, I get rid of them. This way, the binder always has up-to-date information for the perfect takeout evening meal.
- Are you saving magazine or newspaper articles? Are there piles of them in various corners of your home? Try digitizing them. Each time you want to save something, simply take a photo of it. Create a digital folder on your computer or saved onto an external hard drive for all the “clippings”.
- Make your coffee or tea break a really special moment. Enjoy your hot beverages in Grandma’s antique cup and saucer. Turning everyday activities into something more elevated will make you smile.
- Use the good towels and bedding. You are more important than occasional guests. Also bring out the good cutlery and use them for everyday. Don’t save them for others on special occasions. What is more special than celebrating life with those near and dear?
- Kindly say no to well-meaning friends and relatives who offer you furniture and other “stuff”. Unless you can really see a piece in your home, it’s best left to the donation centers.
- Purchase a new doormat because being house proud begins outside your front door.
- Create a feature on your balcony or backyard so that when guests look out, they’ll see something really pleasing as a distant feature. We have a flowering crab tree which sadly died a few years ago. Instead of cutting it down, we trimmed the branches then wrapped the tree with white twinkly lights for all year round.
- Corral all those cords! There is nothing cute about seeing a jumble of cables and wires. Find creative and sensible ways to manage it all by hiding them inside a basket or consolidating them with a power bar. This will help with dust management as well!
- Wash and iron your curtains. They often get forgotten when house cleaning. We don’t see how they can get dull and dirty over time.
- Take some time and do a good purge of your bathroom sink cabinets. There are bound to be empty bottles and tubes of products. If you have full bottles you’re not likely to use, there are many shelter organizations that would love toiletry donations.
- Look up…look waaay up and see where there may be cobwebs on ceilings and light fixtures. Your home doesn’t need to say “early haunted house”.
- Keep your eyes and minds open whenever you’re out and about. You’ll never find what you’re looking for when you desperately need it. Keep a mental list or one on your phone for reference.
- Steam clean area rugs and upholstery. We purchased a small, handheld device last year. Its compact size is great for our needs and it was very affordable. You can also rent larger versions from supermarkets.
At the end of the day, the secret to being house proud is how to be. Be good to yourselves. You are your home’s most important guests and all it takes is a bit of time and imagination to get there.