How to make a house a home

October 10, 2017
pip's house

As I kid I knew instinctively that there are comforts of home that have the power to make you feel like you truly belong and the world is an excellent place.

For instance:

Eating a perfectly bubbly, golden slice of cheese on toast in a giant armchair, as the radio drones in the background.

Noticing the moment when the fire your parents have let you make in the living room fireplace shifts from yellow-flamed bundle of kindling and wood to full-blown, glowing cosy spectacle.

Clinking ice into long glasses and slugging blackcurrent cordial across their frosty cubes, creaking the tap on to fill them and seal the sweet, tinkly deal.

Smoothing blankets across fresh linen before sliding my sandy feet underneath, pulling book and sheets up to my chin.

Sitting at the kitchen table, opening a new notebook and brushing my fingers across the page as I bring pencil to paper for the very first, new-book smelling time.

These home-y rituals are simple, but they mark the kind of tiny, perfect moments that make me feel perfectly capable of being justme. (Let’s face it, being a human can be confusing at times, so I’ll take my capable moments when I can!)



Homebody life

As an adult I continue to be terribly interested in being home, feeling okay and being me too. I’m still steadfastly inclined to cheesy toast, fresh pages and cosy spectacles, truth be told. I remain ridiculously focused on the homebody life, to the point of annoyingly grinning and pointing when a particularly comforting or exciting home-y ritual has come into play.

‘Look how nice this is!’ I will cry as I stare at a tray full of gently flickering , mesmerizingly melty candles.
‘Doesn’t this make you feel good?’ I will urge as I dollop jam on a scone and give the teapot a bit of a swivel.
‘Don’t you just want to make something, do something, feel something?!’ I will quiz as I flip through the pile of seventies magazines strewn across the table and squintily sip G&T through an ever-more- soggy striped paper straw.

Let’s just say I am evangelically keen to celebrate the joys that good home can bring.

How to home-y

So what are these determined homebody urges all about? What are the common threads that inspire, excite and delight? What do we stand to gain from helpful, cosy homes? And how can we harness
their superpowers to ignite creative sparks or comfort creative hearts?

Let’s begin with some of the things that home should be:

  • Firstly, home should provide a retreat from the world.
  • It should also be a welcoming coven of hospitality and fun.
  • A helpful home should embody our own personal culture, the things that excite and ground us and the things that help confirm our identity.
  • Home should also offer visual and practical cues that remind us of the promise and interesting-ness of life.
  • Home should offer a grounding alternative to a super-social or noisy-busy life.
  • If we play our cards right, home is a kind of place where we feel so much like us, that we don’t ever have to adjust ourselves to fit.
  • Where the rest of the world can require a sort of behavioural hyper-vigilance to consistently do well, home is a familiar default.
  • It’s a place to relax, breathe and belong, in a world that might make us feel like a bit of an outsider at least some of the time.

pip's house


So can we optimize our home to provide this accepting, welcoming familiarity whilst still challenging us with ideas and inspiration? Why, yes! I think we can. Here’s how:

  1. Create a home that anchors you. The things in your home should remind you of who you are, what you stand for, where you’ve been, where or who you hope to be. Photos of people and places and pets are good. Mementos fromevents and experiences work too. In a world of copycat inspiration, buck the trend and make your home an unabashed Museum of You.
  2. The objects you have around you should strike a chord. Be it beautiful or useful or funny or nostalgic or inspiring or comforting, they have the power to steady you, support you or divert you, if you choose them well.
  3. Home should be a space to be yourself, where you can use your true voice and don’t have to put on a show for anyone.

pip's house

Refine home-y habits

Your home should relax and refuel you, but it should also be stocked with an arsenal that will excite and inspire – books, films, music, art, textiles, colour, texture, whatever speaks to you.

Home is not all about slowing-down, it’s about sparking up, too:

Invite favourite friends and family in for chats and snacks.
Change rooms around so that they feel more fresh and interesting (I did this ceaselessly as a child and teenager!)
Plan to move house if your current digs are wearing you down instead of restoring you.
Test out new projects.
Try out new-to- you skills.
Hatch new plans.

Setting the scene

Make your home a framework for great creative habits. Maybe it’s the room where you feel most inspired to work. The cup of tea (coffee?!) ritual that draws a line between home time and ideas
time. The step you love to sit on. The glass of wine you pour. The notebook you write in. The candle you light. The view you breathe in.

Pay attention to the home-y circumstances that create a positive spark in you. What helps you tap into the best bits of yourself? What sorts of things prime you for bright ideas, feel-good times and fresh approaches?

For me it’s things like making a perfectly delicious cup of coffee, working in front of big bright windows, having lovely green plants around the place, shelves stocked with zillions of books, the sound of birds, cosy soft furnishings to feather my nest, nice music or the drone of the ABC, colourful art on the walls, fresh flowers, fragrant candles, a laptop loaded with good things to watch, a pot of soup on the stove, the promise of good snacks in the pantry… Maybe some of these are on your helpful home habit list too?

A room of one’s own

Maybe it’s a particular room or a favourite piece of furniture that tip you over the edge, creatively or homebody-wise? You are in good company as the following geniuses suggest.

“My house has a living room that is at the core of everything that goes on: it is a passageway to the cellar, to the kitchen, to the closet where the phone lives. There’s a lot of traffic. But it’s a bright, cheerful room, and I often use it as a room to write in, despite the carnival that is going on all around me,” Charlotte’s Web author EB White says.

nigella library

Anyone who’s seen writer and cook Nigella Lawson’s vast and cosy home library featuring thousands of books would be thoroughly tipped in the direction of comforting, bright ideas.

My own great-grandfather, the essayist FW Boreham, credits not a room, but a reliable armchair with providing much more than a nice place to sit.

“In this chair… I have spent hundreds of delightful hours… If we listen with sufficient care, the old armchair is talking to us… It is reminding us.”

Our homes and the people, pets and things we choose to fill them with with really are reminders – of who we are, why we are and where we’ve been… A home is a reminder of how to be us.


  • Reply kate August 21, 2019 at 7:19 PM

    been drawn back here for a dose of comfort, homey-ness gosh I just love this post so much.

    cheers Kate

  • Reply Kristy October 12, 2017 at 7:39 AM

    Oh I love this post!!! Our home is a little retreat much as you’ve described, complete with snacks, piles of books and green things. Next plan is to make it easier for friends to come and stay, or to drop over for a garden beer or two, so we can have the best of both worlds. Your home looks bloody gorgeous!

  • Reply Alison October 10, 2017 at 10:52 PM

    Super-hygge. A home says “Welcome, I like you just the way you are. Come sit a while and be cosy with me”

  • Reply paula October 10, 2017 at 7:12 PM

    love this post! are the first pics your home? if so, love you have vinyl.

    • Reply Pip October 10, 2017 at 9:14 PM

      They are all my house, yes. Except the Nigella one! Thank you for reading, Paula! xx

  • Reply Maya @House Nerd October 10, 2017 at 6:36 PM

    I LOVE this post! And I love your living room Pip…. what an amazing photo. Not just the cosiness of it and the late afternoon light but also the warmth that emanates from it. What a beautiful home.

    • Reply Pip October 10, 2017 at 9:14 PM

      Aw thanks Maya! It’s my fave place! x

  • Reply Annette October 10, 2017 at 10:25 AM

    Oh Pip. Yay!
    This post is written in my mother tongue – homeyness!
    I think you and I have super similar home vibes, though our places naturally look quite different, just like we do.
    Thank you for extolling the home-y life.
    I’m in. Life member!

    • Reply Pip October 10, 2017 at 9:14 PM

      We are twinning, then! Homey twins! x

  • Reply Rachel October 10, 2017 at 8:30 AM

    Great ideas here. Thank you.

    • Reply Pip October 10, 2017 at 9:15 PM

      Thank you for reading, and for commenting too, Rachel! x

  • Reply Kate October 10, 2017 at 8:27 AM

    You had me at the title pip. This is the post I’ve been waiting to read and didn’t even realise I needed. I’m at a place of transition or change or something and right now I think I’ve lost that home making skill. I go through the motions still but it isn’t quite working. After reading your thoughts I feel like either it’s time to find new digs, not easy when the hubster is opposed, or its time to get back to really simple rituals and change my thinking. Right now our house feels like my place of work, rather than my sanctuary from the world. Could this be because it doesnt actually reflect me any more? Or am I just an ungrateful complaining wrench?
    Anyway thanks for writing this piece.
    I love it
    Cheers Kate

    • Reply Pip October 10, 2017 at 9:16 PM

      You are not a complaining wench! No!! Sometimes if you start small, with one little area, and make it nice/cosy/cute then the rest follows, bit by bit. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just chip away! x

      • Reply Kate October 11, 2017 at 5:51 PM

        Thanks for your support and advice pip. I keep coming back here to read again because I feel at home here.

    Leave a Reply