We were just married and on the same day we signed a lease for a small condo. Entering our first new place was like a horror novel. Upon opening the outside closet we discovered a pile of feces. (And, I’m not sure that it wasn’t human.) But, the goodies didn’t end there. We ventured further- the first room, the living room, was supposed to have new blinds up. Instead, the white blinds were lazing on the floor doing little for our privacy. Next was the bedroom, another set of blinds on the floor, but that wasn’t what was bothersome. Connected to our room was the bathroom, with NO door. Before I could get too torn up about the “no door” situation, another entirely different situation assailed my nose. A unholy stank hit me with staggering force. Braving on, we peeked into the bathroom. On the floor was a crumpled white t-shirt, or it would’ve been white had it not been for the brown streaks. I prayed silently, “Please be paint.” It was not. At this point the smell was almost too unbearable to stand, but we had more to see. Clasping each other’s hands as if contesting who could cut off the other’s circulation the fastest, we pressed on. That horrid smell, it was coming from the toilet. Mustering all my strength and will power, I used one unfortunate finger to flip the lid. What resided in that toilet was the most murky, ungodly, gagging thing another human could possibly make. It took weeks to scrub away the smell and ringed evidence from the criminal act that was committed on that poor toilet. I would like to say the horrors stop there, but they don’t. A couple days later I did laundry. After washing and drying a load I pulled the pile out, along with something else. That something, fell onto the floor. It looked like a little fuzzy lint. I put the laundry on the bed before leaning down to inspect the little fuzzy thing. It was the dried carcass of a brown mouse. And yet, we were so thankful for being able to rent a place, we didn’t complain. Now, we live in a much nicer dwelling (easy to do from where we started.) That being said, I never really made that apartment home. So, when we moved to this apartment, I decided I wasn’t going to wait until it felt like home to make home happen. In fact, I’m pleased with the results. My home, where I spend the majority of my time, is now a haven verses a prison.
My Top Ten Homey Touches.
1. Keeping the peace. I know it can be hard when you have baby puke in your hair, two screaming babies, and a house that may as well be the home of the Adam’s family. But, experts in phycology can look at your environment and only account for 10% of you happiness. That is all! I’m not discounting an environment, because I know it still influences us, but how much more can we influence our environment? Peace isn’t something that occurs because everything is perfect, it occurs because we choose it. The center of a hurricane is known as “the eye of the storm” inside that raging beast is a peaceful and calm center. That is what I try to choose, and even if I fail to remain calm, I’m still encouraged that I’m more peaceful now than I’ve ever been. This attitude papers your home’s walls with something much more beautiful than any décor.
2. Clutter free. I’m not going to lie, I will never win the cleanest house, or even most-of-the-time-clean-house. Nope, my house is frequently messy, even if I clean it several times a day. Blame it on the kids, my creative spirit, or plain laziness, but that is the truth. However, it isn’t so bad with toys scattered hither and thither if I don’t have those sneaky piles of junk that goes who knows where. Mentally, I keep telling myself, everything has to have a place. I’m not perfect on this, but my constant quest to de-clutter has made our little apartment more than tolerable. And slowly, it is looking more and more comfortable.
3 Photos. The power of a picture should never be underestimated. Little baby hands, wedding kisses, and my brother and sisters’ goofy smiles can make a day bright even in the darkest of times. Not to mention, it is encouraging to see my family and myself growing and changing. If I’m grumpy with my husband looking at photos of us immediately makes me mushy and sentimental towards him (same with my kids!)
4. Making my bed. I have done this ever since reading an article about 5 Things Happy People Do. It was super helpful. Even if my house is a disaster the bed being made makes me happy and feel just a little more in control of the surrounding chaos.
5. Artsy Fartsy. I love art. I love to see it spilling a creative vibe and whimsy onto my plain white walls. I love buying prints and am so excited to see someone’s talent bless me and my home with inspiration!
6. Function and beauty. Everything I own I try to not just make beautiful, but functional. An apartment only has so much room and storage, so if you aren’t using it, and it isn’t necessary, you may not need it. Luckily we can often up-cycle an item to make it more functional. For example, the changing table. It wasn’t being used for babies and it was taking up space, but I wanted somewhere to put shoes, toys, and on top something fun like a coffee center. I’m pleased with it being still useful and pretty!
7. Oh the smells we smell. Isn’t it crazy how everyone’s house has a unique scent, (or sometimes a funk.) I really like to make my house smell nice- I clean more, I feel better, and it can cover the strange odors a baby can make. When we first got married we were super short on money, but I took $15, which was a lot to me, and bought a box of bath & body wallflowers, candles, home oils, and home sprays that were listed on craigslist. To this day I use the same ones I bought and have yet to run out!
8. Curtains. I bought my curtains after receiving an electric bill last summer that topped $300! The Oklahoma heat ramped up to 100 F most weeks and we could not keep cool. The little AC unit in this apartment is not large enough for the space- even on full throttle it wouldn’t get down from 75 F. We decided to invest in power saver curtains (and get curtain rods) to hopefully offset future bills. They have helped a little with the bill, but mostly they are beautiful and look much nicer then the sheet we tacked up in our last apartment. Curtains are a homey touch that takes away the “temporariness” that is easy to feel in an apartment.
9. Contentment. This one took a long time for me. I have kids and being in an apartment, at times, made me feel like I failed. I know it is silly and plenty of families live in apartments instead of houses, but it took time to adjust my thoughts on it. It kind of goes with the “inner-peace thing,” but it is a little different. For me it involved not being embarrassed of my little dwelling and owning it. This is my place! I live here and I’m happy with it. I still want a house, and someday will have a yard and our own place, but in the meantime I am content.
10. Have a C.S. Lewis moment. A tea pot and a good book. Perhaps this is entirely a “me” thing, but a hot mug and a nice book is my way to relax and feel right at home. Fall is upon us and we are often burrowing into our home and thinking Hobbit thoughts. My cute little tea pot and china cups bring me a sense of home and hospitality. It’s cheesy, but images of “Pride and Prejudice” pop into my brain. Hot beverages and a great story make everything much more cozy and welcoming no matter where you are at!