5 Steps to Making a House a Home (Phase 1)

While we were in Oklahoma, I got to spend some time with my younger sister and nephew. It was wonderful, and we spent much of our time together decorating her rental. She just resigned from her teaching position to stay home full time and she wanted some help making her house more of a home.

If I was more on top of it, I would have thought this through and taken before pics to show the transformation. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about putting this on the blog till we were almost done. Also, because of that lack of forethought, I had to snap these pics with my phone, and her house doesn’t have much natural light, so they aren’t the best.

Anywho, we focused most of our attention on decorative items and some cute storage. Because she lives in a rental, we made sure to make changes that could go with her to her next place, whenever/wherever that may be. She isn’t interested in asking her landlord if she can paint, so we just worked with ignored the tan/beige/dirtygolden color on the walls. Also, she had basically no decorative items so we were starting from almost scratch. The budget was small she did just quit her job and so we looked for ways to make the biggest impact possible with the smallest investment.

Here’s how we did it:

1. Focus on a focal point.

The top picture is of Andrea’s mantle. This is the first thing you see as you walk into the living room and we wanted it to grab your attention. We found the bright teal candlesticks and mirror at Ross for a song, and the chalkboard at Hobby Lobby when wooden decorative items were half off.


By having the bright pop of color from the candlesticks and the light reflecting from the mirror, it is one of the first places you notice, and the fact that it looks cute and intentional sets the tone for the rest of the room.

2. Group smaller items together to make a bigger impact.


For the long empty wall in the living room, we grouped pictures and other decorative wall items together to create a gallery wall. It’s more impactful to bring these items together into one grouping than to spread them out along the wall. Yes, there is lots of empty space around them, but that actually creates the sense of order and rest in the space. All the items on the wall were bought at Hobby Lobby, and everything was bought at half off except the red metal sign. The picture frames were black and we spray painted them off white.

*Hobby Lobby has half off sales every week. You can download the app and it will tell you what is on sale each week. 

3. Combine form and function


Before, Andrea had no designated entry. Keys were left on the bookshelves and bags on the floor. Shoes were left wherever they were taken off. With a $12 rug from Lowe’s, some hooks from Hobby Lobby half off, of course, and a picture frame that was a wedding present, now her keys/wallet, sweaters and jackets, and shoes stay safe in one place. This space functions much better for them and is super cute at the same time.

4. Use old things in new ways.


Andrea’s dining space is small so there wasn’t much to do in there. We bought some new fabric also from Hobby Lobby (I promise, this isn’t a Hobby Lobby commercial, she just had lots of gift cards for there from when she got married and so we took advantage of them.) and I used iron on hem tape and curtain clips to keep things super simple. I hung the curtains high and wide by using an envelope as a measuring tool. Andrea had left to go to cheer practice she coaches and I didn’t know where her tape measure was so I just made do.


I made a small dot with a pen right next to the upper left corner and that was where the top screw for the curtain brackets went.  Because we used curtain clips I was able to extend the rod about five inches past the brackets and have some clips on the outside and some on the inside of the brackets. The curtains are decorative only and don’t need to be able to open and close because of the blinds.

That was all we had planned for the dining room, but then I found the small picture frames in her things that she had brought home from her classroom. The pictures used to sit on her desk, and since she won’t be needing them there anymore I decided to hang them on the wall next to the window. They add a little more interest/color, are filled with pictures of people Andrea loves there’s one with me, and if I hadn’t used them, they would just be sitting in a bag in the garage.

Just because I think they are so pretty, here is a picture of the curtains up close and the metal sign on the other side of the window. This picture is probably the closest picture to the true colors of the walls and curtains.


5. Do what makes your heart happy. 


Andrea really wanted to change out the knobs in her kitchen, which is a great way to add your touch in a rental. It is super easy to put the old knobs back on when it is time to move out, and you can take your knobs to your next place. She also really wanted to mix and match her knobs. I love what she did. Red knobs on the uppers and teal knobs on the lowers. She even mixed up the red knobs on the uppers and used one for the big cabinets and a different one for the smaller cabinets.

We also found the rug, decorative plate, and salt and pepper shakers at Hobby Lobby. These weren’t half off, but she loved them so much that she bought them anyway. She did use a 40% off coupon always on the app on the plate. They add so much brightness and fun to the kitchen that she is planning on going back and getting a few more items in the set. =)

This isn’t Andrea’s dream house, but it is her right now house and these simple and small changes have helped it feel so much more like her home. She says she enjoys being home so much more now. I say: mission accomplished. =)

Do you have any tips for making a house feel more like a home? Please share.

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