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Home is more than a building, it’s a place we have an emotional connection with. In the following article, I deep dive into what home means and how it can support our mental well-being. I also cover 10 ways to make your house feel like a home.

An image of Alix Stoney, interior designer, sat on the doorstep to her home.


‘The place one lives permanently. A house or a flat’

This definition in the Concise Oxford Dictionary doesn’t cut it. To me, a home means more than that. I see it along the lines of Danish hygge (being together with friends and family and enjoying life’s quiet moments) or Dutch gezligg (a relaxed atmosphere and you are having a good time, you feel at ease in your surroundings). A home is a safe place, somewhere we can truly be ourselves. But let’s explore what home means to different people and why it is so important for our mental well-being.

What Does Home Mean to Me?

I was lucky to grow up in a happy household with my parents and my two brothers. It wasn’t perfect, there were arguments and frustrations, but there was a lot of love and laughter. My mum was always changing things around. It wasn’t unusual to come home from school to find the living room furniture rearranged or the dining table in a new position. Money wasn’t free-flowing, so I can’t remember many pieces of new furniture, but my mum created a fresh look with what she had. I often wonder if this is where my love of interiors was formed! 


Our home was relaxed. Therefore, I was surprised when I went to a friend’s house, where sitting on the sofa in our jeans was banned, for fear the dye would transfer onto the fabric. 

How do Others Define Home?

So, what does home mean to other people? I have been reading books about this topic and looking online as I am intrigued. Here are some views that caught my eye:


  • A place where you can rest and laugh

  • A shelter, a refuge, a sanctuary

  • A place where you can close the door and shut the world out

  • A place to recharge

  • An escape

  • A place to raise your family

  • It’s where you can be authentic

  • It’s safe and warm

  • It is somewhere to relax and switch off

  • It’s a healing place for the soul

  • A place that can support your wellbeing

  • A place to focus

  • It is a sense of privacy – a place we can be ourselves

  • It’s a place that offers connection – togetherness


A home is all of these things; far more than the building you live in. You could reside in a ten-bedroom villa on the French Riviera or a mobile home in the Cairngorms. What matters is the atmosphere you create, the people you live with and the memories.


So how do you create such a space? We are all busy juggling and the fast pace of life is often overwhelming and exhausting, so firstly, we need to slow down! Getting our home in order helps us deal with the trials of daily life. You don’t need to buy the latest gadget or newest appliance and keep up with a seasonal trend. Like my mum, we need to start by making the most of what we have.

An image looking from the main bedroom into the hallway and down the stairs to a window ledge filled with orchids.
A bookcase in a 1930s bungalow. The bookcase is made from birch plywood and forms cubby holes, with and without doors, and displays colourful books, ceramics and other trinkets belonging to the homeowner.
A close up image of a colourful paint chart with wallpaper and pain samples in the background.

Ten ways you can make your house feel like a home: 

1: Declutter your Home

Is your home filled with clutter that makes you feel stressed and claustrophobic?  Are your possessions making it harder to keep your home clean and relaxing? If so, pause the purchases.


We all consume too much. I am guilty of this too, however, since downsizing, I’m thinking about what I need and where it will go before I reach for the credit card. I’ve learnt the benefits of considering what I’ve got and avoiding buying anything I don’t need. That new lamp or crockery set might be lovely, but I now see it as a step away from a calm home environment.

2: Be Organised

Less clutter makes it easier to be more organised and then there is clever storage. Storage solutions come in all shapes and sizes:


  • A second-hand sideboard in your living room for board games

  • A bespoke bookcase in the kitchen for cookery books 

  • Flat-pack shoe rack in the hallway

  • A hanging fabric bag in a child’s bedroom to keep all toys in order


Creative thinking can help you find storage solutions for every room that fit the bill both physically and aesthetically. Then, introduce systems for all your family to follow. Putting shoes in the designated place when you come through the door or tidying up the toys before dinner.

3: Add Home Interior Colours That You Love

Have you chosen colours in your home because you love them? I have recently been delving into colour psychology and the effect colour has on how we feel is incredible. That’s why we need interior design that suits our personality. If the colours in a room don’t work for you, it’s time to rethink the scheme!

4: Use Natural Materials

Manmade laminates and plastics are soulless in comparison to natural materials. Stone, wood, wool, linen and cotton have textures, aromas and visual details which add subtle character to an interior. There is evidence to show that we feel more grounded when we are in contact with natural materials. They have a positive effect on how we feel in our homes.

5: Light Up Your Home

The first stage is to optimise the natural light that floods into your home. Observe how the light moves around your house throughout the day and plan the interior layout to benefit from this. Considered window dressing and clean windows make a big difference. It’s amazing how much more light shines through a clean window!


When the sun has gone down, use floor and table lamps to create little pockets of light around your home. Good lighting will create a cosy, welcoming atmosphere to relax in after a long, tiring day.

6: Add House Plants To Your Scheme

There is nothing like a few houseplants to bring a room to life. They improve air quality and add a fresh pop of green. I know people say they kill every plant they buy, but find easy care plants, position them favourably and follow the directions on the label. I will warn you, this hobby is addictive! I currently have over 70 houseplants in our small home and my daughter is following in my footsteps.

‘You do not need as much as you think to have a meaningful life. The path to peace is not linked

with possessions.’  Michelle Ogundehin – Happy Inside

A 1920s oak side table displaying houseplants, magazines and a vase.
A detail image of a peacelily houseplant infront of a framed screenprint map of London.

‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’

William Morris

7: Add Some Warmth and Softness to Create a Cosy Vibe

Soften the edges of your space with tactile rugs, cosy blankets and, ideally, a roaring fire. Add sumptuous cushions to your chairs, sofa and bed so that you can sink into them at the end of the day. You can never have too many cushions. I repeat, you can never have enough cushions!

8: Include Your Favourite Artwork

Fabulous artwork is a great way of adding colour to your home, without redecorating. My top tip is to collect things over the years rather than going and buying every picture from one shop. Have a look for local artists, collect posters when you are travelling or buy a print from an exhibition you love. A collection built up over time is much more personal than a one-stop shop. 

9: Books Are an Invitation to Sit and Browse

In my world, nothing is more inviting than a shelf of books; it’s another passion of mine. I know we live in a digital world, with everything available in a click, but I relish having a beautiful book in my hand. Positioning a few on a coffee or side table will invite you to sit in an armchair with a cuppa and switch off for five minutes.

10: Incorporate Your Collections

What’s in your collection? Maybe it’s pebbles from the beach, a piece of pottery made by someone you love or a child’s drawing from their first day at school. Collections don’t have to be valuable but they are meaningful. So, why not incorporate your collection into your scheme? This will personalise your interior design, make you smile and be a talking point for visitors. 


You could hang a print tray on the wall and fill it with shells or create a gallery wall of postcards, prints and tickets from your travels. You could have a shelf of ceramics or a corner for houseplants. However, don’t overdo it! A few choice items that you love are a super focal point, whilst too many become clutter


When I drive down our lane at the end of the day, I always have that sense of relief. The knowledge that I can shut the front door behind me and relax. Do you feel the same way?


If you are not, something needs addressing, as our homes should be a place to retreat and recharge. I am not suggesting getting an architect to plan a massive extension, in fact, quite the opposite. It’s often the case that we believe we need more space when we just need less stuff. Bigger is not always better. 


In her book, Happy Inside, Michelle Ogundehin writes about seeing things as they really are. Then we can come up with solutions rather than complain about the situation. For example, if your kitchen feels cramped, with minimal space to prepare meals, what needs to change? Do you need all those cookery books? (I rarely look at more than two or three recipes in each book, so, I copied them and donated the books to a charity shop).

If your cupboards are packed with kitchen gadgets and crockery, have a clear out. Then, consider the options for maximising space, such as utilising the dining table as an extra work surface. By accepting what you have and getting creative, you will see solutions.

If your home isn’t relaxing, visit places that are; a local coffee shop, a favourite hotel or a friend’s house. Sit in the space and think about how you feel and why you like it. Is it the colour scheme, the way the light comes through the window, the acoustics or the comfortable chairs? Make a note and consider how you can replicate it at home.

‘In the end, modern living should be about investing yourself in the home you have. Only when you devote yourself to it will it devote itself to you. It may not be the perfect home, but it is yours.’

A Modern Way To Live – Matt Gibberd

A detail image of a gallery wall showing prints, textile artwork and postcards.
A detail image of Alix Stoney reading a design book.
A detail image of Alix Stoney styling a throw in the living room of her home.


In ‘My Hygge Home’, Meik Wiking quotes a survey conducted by Anglian Home Improvements where they asked 1000 people exactly what makes a house a home. 


This is the top ten:


  • Happiness 57%

  • Love 51%

  • Security and safety 50%

  • The sound of laughter 44%

  • Meals with family and friends 43%

  • The smell of cooking 43%

  • A comfy sofa 42%

  • A bath AND a shower 40%

  • Freshly laundered sheets 39%

  • A well-stocked fridge 39%


These points are all based on a feeling of safety and refuge. We need our homes to look after us, to shelter us from the wind and the rain (especially if you live in the UK). Our homes protect us from the turmoil of the world news and give us a break from the relentless pressures of the digital world. This space is all about us. Forget what your neighbours are doing or magazine photoshoots. Create a home with the things you love, arranged in a way that allows you to live a contented life. Embrace your own story.

To view some of my completed projects click here.


If you are feeling a bit out of sorts with your home and are unsure where to start, I can help. Contact me for a chat about how we can make things work for you. Let’s take a look at what your family needs for the space to work and for everyone to feel at home. My suggestions on furniture layout, colour schemes, organisation and lighting will help create what you are craving. 

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