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How To Make A House Feel Like a Home – The Art of Sentimental Home Design

Sentimental home design is how to make a house feel like a home. My home reflects my interests, my past, and reminds me of the people I love.

Becoming an adult and moving into a home is a major life event. Many of young homeowners feel the pressure to decorate their homes as “an adult.” We often lose sight of the fun, quirky elements of design that personalize our space. How to make a house feel like a home is to decorate it with things that bring you joy. There is no one size fits all! Embrace your favorite pop culture, childhood memories or pieces from those you love.

My Struggle to Make My House a Home

When I was in college, my roommate and my room was nicknamed “the poster room.” We covered almost every single bit of wall space with posters. I LOVED our room because I felt like those posters really reflected me, who I was and what I loved.

Fast forward from college to moving into my first home. I threw out all of my posters and was determined to be an “adult.” But I had no idea what that looked like. I spent all of my free time scouring Pinterest and reading blogs for inspiration. I was constantly bombarded with curated, beautiful images that inspired me. What I didn’t realize was that just because something is pretty doesn’t mean I’m going to love it in my house. I purchased furniture and bedding that was beautiful, but it wasn’t “me” at all.

At first, I was frustrated that these design trends I latched on to weren’t working in my house. I thought I was doing something wrong. But I’ve come to realize that I was just going about designing and styling my space the wrong way. I needed to get back to “the poster room” way of thinking. This meant designing for me, rather than try to accomplish a look just because it was in a magazine.

How to Make a House a Home

The biggest way I’ve accomplished making a house a home is decorating with things I love. I do this through the art and accessories that are on display. I call this sentimental home design. There are various ways I’ve incorporated sentimental pieces into my design. For example, earlier this year I repainted our dining room to refresh the space. I thought it was missing a personal touch, so I added in two Star Wars prints. (similar).

traditional style dining room

It’s Okay to Get Nerdy

My husband and I bonded over a mutual love of Star Wars long before we started dating, so it’s an important part of our story. The prints are very simple and cute. I had these prints for years, but I kept them hidden. I didn’t think it was “mature” to have them hanging somewhere front and center. Now I say, screw it! I’m an adult who likes Star Wars. And if you come to my house (or read this blog) then you will know it.

star wars prints dining room

How to Make a House a Home: Sentimental Decorating

Nerdiness aside, I’m also an incredibly sentimental person. I shared this on the blog before, but a few years ago my uncle (who is super talented) drew a pastel piece for my house. The piece is of a fox, which represents my Papa. My Papa’s middle name was Foxx so having fox art around the house is an homage to him. I actually have several fox figurines around the house that represent him.

fox pastel

My other grandfather collected owls, so I have owl pieces that represent him as well. I actually have an animal for all of my grandparents. Having a ceramic animal, painting or pillow with one of these animals is my way of making my decor special to me and my family. I’ve even worked some of them into my kid’s toy box.

how to make a house feel like a home

Reliving Adventures

In addition to art made by other people, I also framed and hung several photos that I took in our living room. They are from our grand adventure to Europe a few years back. Each photo features one of the cities that we visited. Actually, two of them are from Paris because it was my favorite city. On the back wall is the Eiffel Tower at night and the Necropolis in Glasgow. The next wall features a gargoyle from the top of Notre Dame, Big Ben in London and Sycamore Gap in Northumberland National Park, UK.  Not only are the pictures reminders of the locations, but I can remember the events of the days when the photos were taken.

sectional-home tour

For example, I took the Eiffel Tower photo walking back to our hotel on one of our last nights in Paris. I had a few glasses of wine and balanced my camera on the side of a bridge to get the low exposure shot. I’m still surprised I didn’t drop it in the river! It’s really fun to be able to look up from the couch and have a little trip down memory lane for a few seconds. 

BW Paris - Eiffel Tower night

As I’ve grown more into myself and learned what design elements I like and don’t care for. I’ve truly learned how to make a house feel like a home. To me, that extends beyond the furniture and paint on the walls. I’ve learned that the things in my house I treasure the most aren’t expensive, or even something I’ve bought. They just reflect my interests or remind me of fun times or people I love. I don’t have wallpaper made of posters any more, but the spirit of the poster room lives on!

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