Making a House into a Home

Hand-drawn-quote-by-The-Inspired-Room-blogOkay, okay, so I live in an apartment, not a house, but bear with me, all right? “Making an apartment into a home” just doesn’t doesn’t have the same ring to it.

What would it take for you to transform your house into a home? Do you think there’s a difference, or are they one in the same?

I hadn’t really thought about it until just recently, when looking further into ways to declutter, reevaluate, reorganize, and make the most of my spaces as I continue through the possessions focus of my Project 7 adventure.

Have you ever walked into someone else’s house and instantly felt comfortable, safe, relaxed, or at ease? Did you feel, in other words, at home?

While a house can merely be a dumping ground for all of life’s stuff, a home is so much more. Home is a place we come to at the end of a long day to unwind, relax, and find comfort. It holds part of our heart, is filled with memories, and occupies a special place in our hearts.

I want my home (currently this apartment, but at every stage of my life going forward) to welcome others in and to welcome me in at the end of my day. I don’t want to be stressed about maintaining it, frustrated trying to find things, unsettled when it seems like things just aren’t arranged optimally, or just dissatisfied with the general impression of a place that is lived in but not especially loved.

In thinking of what I wanted my home to look like, I asked myself what I wanted the dominant feelings conveyed by each room to be— the mood or atmosphere, if you will. I want the purpose of each room and the desired atmosphere to guide how I fill the space. Instead of haphazardly placing things around the apartment, creating a mis-matched, aimless grouping of my belongings, I want to be more intentional in creating a calming space that welcomes people in.

What makes each room special? What do I love about a particular space? What don’t I like the look or feel of? What would I change? What kind of story would I want my space to tell a stranger about me?

I’m going to keep these questions in mind as I survey my apartment one room at a time and try to slowly transform it into a place that feels more like home. Will you join me in doing the same with your space?

What do you want your home to feel like or look like?


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Why We Keep So Much Stuff

imagesDo you ever wonder why we keep so much stuff in our homes? We know we have more than we need, often more than we even want, but we have a hard time letting go just the same. Why is that?

I think many of us feel guilty wanting to get rid of things that have some sentimental value. We feel connected to things that remind us of the past or connect us with a loved one, and we think it somehow would be disrespectful to get rid of said thing. But the memories we have of time spent with those closest to us don’t reside in possessions; we can get rid of things we don’t use or love and still hold dear to our memories.

I am not my stuff; we are more than our possessions.
Our memories are within us, not within our things.
Holding on to stuff imprisons us; letting go is freeing.
You can take pictures of items you want to remember.
Old photographs can be scanned.
An item that is sentimental for us can be useful for someone else.

I don’t think sentimental items are bad, or evil, or that holding on to them is wrong; I think the danger of sentimental items (and sentimentality in general) is far more subtle. If you want to get rid of an item, but the only reason you are holding on to it is for sentimental reasons—and if it is weighing on you—then perhaps it’s time to get rid of it, perhaps it’s time to free yourself of the weight. That doesn’t mean you must get rid of everything, though. – Joshua Fields Millburn

That’s not to say we can’t keep anything that is sentimental; it just means we don’t need to keep every birthday card or every piece of our grandma’s jewelry if they’ll just sit in a box in our closets. We need to evaluate items outside of the sense of nostalgia they carry and choose to keep just the ones that really mean the very most to us.

We may keep gifts from friends and family members because we feel bad about donating or selling them, even though they’re not things we particularly like or use. We hang onto them because we’ve created a sense of shame surrounding the idea of getting rid of gifts from loved ones. We think they’ll notice if we don’t have their gifts around our house, but the truth is they really won’t. And they’d likely feel bad for making you think you had to keep something just to appease them.

Maybe we hold on to things with the intention of maybe using it someday in the future. But if we dug a little deeper and asked ourselves how often we’ve really ended up using things we’ve stashed away for that “just in case” situation, we’d maybe be more willing to let things go. The truth is that we rarely need the things we keep by this kind of justification. We make ourselves feel better for holding onto things we don’t need by saying we may one day need them, but we often never do. And, frankly, many of such things could be easy to replace if we find out we do surprisingly need them ten years down the road, and we would have saved ourselves the storage space for those ten years in the meantime.

We might even delude ourselves into thinking we’ll use miscellaneous items for a rainy day craft or fix our collection of broken things, but most of us likely don’t follow through with those ambitions. We store up boxes and boxes of craft supplies, scraps and tidbits of various things we can’t justify throwing away, hoping we’ll get to make something beautiful out of them eventually. We ought to be more realistic, keeping what we’ll actually use, but realizing we’re probably not going to take the time to fix most things (unless you’re especially gifted with upcycling, then more power to you!).

We keep things out of fear of not having enough down the road. We think that if we let go of something, life’s circumstances will take us by surprise, throwing us a curveball we don’t know how to react to. But we need to realize that holding on to more and more stuff isn’t the answer. Facing the underlying fear is a much better solution. And it will free us up to get rid of the unnecessary things that are cluttering up our homes and our lives.

What other excuses do you find yourself making for keeping things around? Will you join me in letting go of the guilt and fear?



Fear Is Why We Have Too Much Stuff by Leo Babauta,

How to Let Go of Stuff Guilt by Ruth Soukup,

10 Ways to Let Go of Your Stuff by Erin Rooney Doland,

Letting Go of Sentimental Items by Joshua Fields Millburn,

How to Simplify Your Stuff and Honor Your Memories by Courtney Carver,

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When Less is Really More

Do we own our stuff, or does our stuff own us? I’ve gone through my possessions multiple times in the last year, trying to purge my home of things that aren’t used enough or valued enough to keep. But it seems like excess and materialism keep rearing their ugly heads, filling up spaces with unnecessary things time and time again. Whenever I turn my back, I give them margin by neglecting the act of intentionally curating my belongings.

When you have less, you appreciate the things you do have more. Consequently, when you value having less, you crave things less, lending yourself more to generosity. Living life in pursuit of owning fewer material possessions frees you to focus on experiences and allows you to invest in more than temporary things that will never satisfy you.

Having too many things creates unnecessary clutter– both physically and emotionally. I know I can’t focus when my workspace is cluttered; seeing unorganized spaces actually stresses me out. In college, I would take study breaks to clean my room because I just could not focus on my school work in the midst of a messy room. On the flip side, having a place for everything is soothing. And it’s much easier to find a place for everything when we only keep what is useful or beloved.

When considering new purchases, I weigh the cost. If I don’t really like it or know I will use it, I put it back. The same line of thinking ought to apply when I turn to the things I have previously purchased. Instead of acting on autopilot, stashing away everything that comes my direction, I’ve realized that I must take a more careful, intentional approach to sorting through the things that cross my threshold. I should question whether something will actually get used enough to take up valuable space, if it is worth the monetary cost, and how much I truly like it.

Maybe it’s spring cleaning fever, or perhaps I’ve been bitten by the minimalism bug, but whatever it is, I am feeling compelled to once again take a good, hard look at what things I’m filling my home with. I think my possessions are a reflection of my priorities and values. If someone were to take a look around my apartment, I want them to have an accurate picture of who I am.

As I sort through trinkets, papers, clothes, shoes, and craft supplies– just to name a few areas of weakness and subconscious accumulation of clutter– I’m aiming for keeping things that are truly useful or particularly meaningful to me. I’ve come to notice that buying one new thing (be it a kitchen tool, pair of shoes, or book) makes me want to buy more because getting new things is exciting. But I don’t want to continually accumulate things simply because of the rush of adrenaline I get, and I don’t want to feel discontent with what I have. So I will take time instead to appreciate what I have and let go of what is no longer valuable to me. Knowing that everything I keep is truly important and carefully chosen will ideally keep me from buying extra things on impulse and filling my life with unnecessary purchases that will inevitably sit in the back of the closet until my next round of cleaning.

While this truly is proving to be an on-going process and really more of a lifestyle and attitude change, my goal in this season is to create a place for everything, curating a collection of things that I’ve purposely chosen to keep. Instead of looking at my belongings and asking what I should get rid of (my default approach), I’m trying to rewire my thinking to ask what I would like to keep and why. If I can’t come up with a good reason to keep something in my home and my life, it doesn’t deserve to stay. Someone else might get greater pleasure or more use out of it, and it’s taking up valuable space in the meantime.

Now I must bid you all adieu and dig into my closets, drawers, and cabinets to see what things will get a place in my home and which will get the chance to begin again in someone else’s. Wish me luck!