Turn Your New House into a Home


Even the preternaturally calm can get crazy when moving. Settling in and setting up new digs can be equally stressful. Here are nine ways to simplify the complicated process of turning a new house into a home.

1. Clear it out. Silly as it might sound, it’s vitally important to get rid of any bad juju, sordid smells and icky psychic residue left behind by the former occupants. Open the windows and air it out. Burn some sage, light some scented candles. Hire a psychic house cleaner if you have to. Do whatever it takes to make the house feel and smell like it belongs to you.

2. Clean it up. Before moving in, wash the baseboards, clean behind the fridge and wipe down every shelf in the house. It's probably the last time anyone will have the access to these places, unless you have a killer cleaning lady who's willing to move heavy furniture.

3. Get it together. If you don’t organize your stuff as you’re moving in, you’ll probably never do it. Be methodical as you unpack and give everything a place of its own. Use generous numbers of bins and containers to store and stack loose items. And label them! Not only will you find you’ve maximized your square footage, you’ll also be able to find what you need without running around like a chicken with your head cut off looking for that roll of masking tape you know is in a drawer somewhere.

4. Light it up. Bad lighting wrecks a room faster than a hungry dog can pull a ham off the kitchen counter. Just say no to overhead fixtures that light up a room like Las Vegas. A large variety of inexpensive lighting options are available at mass retailers such as IKEA. Splurge on a fab chandelier for the dining room (and no, a chandelier does not have to be one of those glittery crystal contraptions).

5. Drop the junk. Almost every one has a junky bookshelf they’ve had since college or a coffee table they prop up with phone books. Don’t bring anything that is falling apart or that you do not actually like into your new home. Like a roach, once that hideous flower print ottoman gets in the house it will never leave.

6. Dress it up. Good furniture is expensive, so if you’ve blown all your cash on a down payment and can’t afford a new sofa, a less expensive option is to have a slip cover made of durable and washable fabric. Adding some newly purchased throw pillows on top of the slipcover will fool even you into thinking you’ve got a brand new couch.

7. Mix and match. Unless you are dying to live in a Pottery Barn catalog, do not be one of those people who buy every stick of furniture from one store. Mixing and matching modern pieces with granny’s old buffet personalizes a room and brings a sense of history to your new house.

8. Go green. Although it's unnecessary to turn your living room into a greenhouse, it’s amazing how much plants and fresh flowers add to a room. If your thumb isn’t green, ask around at your local plant store for low maintenance varieties such as jade plants and aloe vera.

9. Picture it. Posters of bikini-clad girls and neon beer signs are fine for frat houses, but not for the homes of grown-ups. Home stores such as West Elm now sell attractive and affordable art prints and flea markets are a treasure trove of funky paintings. If you prefer your art to be “real” there are several online galleries for buying photographs, paintings and other works from professional artists. Don’t forget photos of your friends and family. They’ll appreciate seeing themselves hanging on your wall.



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