How you make a house a home is not so much about amazing décor as it is about the sense of comfort and emotional connectedness that you create in it. Yet when the moment comes that you’re staring, bleary eyed, at the jumble of boxes hiding everything you need and cluttering a completely unfamiliar space, what are the first things to do? AHRN.com has some suggestions!
1. Start with a Survival Box
It begins before you move. I actually find this to be one of the more fun tasks. Pack a few boxes of the key items you’ll need to have at hand for the first night (up to a week) after a move. Here’s a sample list:
- Sheets, pillows, comforters for all beds (not guest rooms).
- If no overhead lights, a lamp for the living and bedrooms.
- A zip bag with just enough of the family sundries, important medicines, first aid and all toothbrushes!
- Towels and soap, toilet paper
- Scissors, extension cord, a pack of light bulbs, maybe duct tape, a few basic tools (you will need them), a few rolls of paper towels and some garbage bags – both white and black.
- 1 pot, 1 pan, 1 spatula, coffee, coffee pot and mugs, a good knife, paper towels or a dish towel, corkscrew, silverware, depending on how many people. You may live off pizza and swing by a drive through for coffee but it doesn’t hurt to have these handy
- Your computers/ipads/phones and PLUGS
- Important papers.
You get the idea. Take them separately with you, or ship ahead to someone you know. Whatever it takes. You’ll be REALLY happy you did this.
2. Set Up What’s Most Important First
Figure out what matters most to you; Getting that squared away first will pay off big time in positive psychological effects. For some, it’s getting your kids rooms set, so they’ll be settled, which may make you most grounded. For others, it’s internet and cable, or the coffee maker – or both! For a person who works at home who has to hit the ground running once moving day is over, it might be a minimally functioning office.
But for almost everyone, it would be their bed. The trials of moving and unpacking are many, and it makes a huge difference when we can fall onto that familiar mattress, with our just-right sheets, our favorite comforter etc. Bonus points to get nightstands on each side, with at least your lamps!
TIP: If possible get the beds unloaded and in place early on, if not first, then make them up soon as you can. Trust me, it’s better to do them early, because when you get the last box in and shut the door you’ll be exhausted. I have moved about 40 times and one of the things that keeps me going is the thought that that bed will be fresh, clean, soft, and smelling like all I know…. And all I have to do is crawl in!
Find super simple DIY ideas by checking out 17 Ways to Make Your Bed the Coziest on Earth from Buzzfeed.
Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s also a top area to set up. Often more than any other room, the biggest challenge is figuring out where to put what. It helps if you can start by sketching or taking pictures of the drawers, cabinets and closets available as you do the walk-throughs, so you can plot out what goes where before you move in.
First, work out where the most frequently used things will live – the coffeemaker/toaster/microwave, your glasses, dishes and silverware, things like knife set, dish towels /napkins, cooking utensils, critical pots/pans and plastic wraps. Less used gadgets, mini-appliances, larger pots and baking tools, all can go in areas further from the sink and stove.
Get practical. Dishes and silver should go in storage closest to the dishwasher/sink to make putting them away a breeze. Stow spices/oils, cooking utensils, lids, and potholders within easy reach of the stove. Store like items together, ie: Tupperware, canned goods, snacks. etc… For some great DIY ideas, read 18 Genius Kitchen Organizing Tips on Kitchn.com.
The act of actually making and eating your first meal will go a long way to making you feel you’re home.
3. Get One Room “Finished”
Once the lions’ share is put away, you will see what’s missing from each room to make it feel done. You probably got rid of certain things, and not all your old stuff will fit in the same configurations. So pick a major living area and finish it, before you go on to the next. This is deeply satisfying. I remember when I lost much of my belongings in a fire, I moved and managed to do one room fully. Every night I found myself coming down to stand for about 5 minutes in the quiet, just looking at it. It gave me the sense that everything would come into order at some point! So If you only have a couch, focus on get the coffee table, end tables and lamps. Hang pictures, get window shades or drapes up, lay an area rug down and voila! One room has order. Get the TV hooked up and suddenly, you have a home…
4. It’s The Little Things
Family heirlooms, framed photos, art and other treasures on display act as reminders around every unfamiliar corner just who you are and what matters to you. Once you find the place you’ll drop your keys, mail, sunglasses and the like, it will somehow make your place feel lived in, and establish daily routines that subtly attach us to a place. For some it might be adding life and color with indoor plants. For others, it’s accumulating a little positive clutter – once the kids sports equipment or shoes pile up in the mudroom, drawings and lists litter the fridge, your books and cd’s begin to get jumbled and family photos or collections pepper the place, it will feel like it’s truly yours.
5. Invite People Over!
There is no faster way to make a house a home than to have people come by – for a dinner you cook there (even a pot luck or order-in pizza), movie night, or to watch a big game. It doesn’t matter what. Filling your new space with people you love, laughter, and merriment begins the process of memory-making. As does sharing the milestones and having important talks.
TIP: Take a little time to think about what is most important to your sense of comfort, and make that the priority. It can cut the stress of the first weeks in a new place in half. And that leaves you positive reserves to give to all the other areas of life that don’t get put on hold during a move.
Home is a place to be safe and warm, to care for a family, pets, a garden. It’s where you will experience some of your worst times as well as your best. All in all, it’s a place in which to both seek refuge and to grow. Focus on what matters most to you and be sure to bring it in to a special corner of your new house – or every single one!
Meet Your Contributor:
Rochelle Joseph is a Writer and Image Consultant who has had experience marketing, renting and buying/selling her properties for over 20 years. She has written and edited for several publications, including the Boston Book Review,The Emerson Review, ZooBorns.com, WildLife Magazine, the Houston Zoo, The Wildlife Center of Texas, One Spirit Interfaith Seminary as well as AHRN.com. She currently writes at her great gifts blog at http://lookyhereu.blogspot.com and her animal blog at http://naturegirrrl.blogspot.com