Mom, you were right.

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White Bedroom
Credit: Unsplash

When I think of home, I rarely think of a place. For me, home is found in tiny moments that saturate my everyday: the stacks of dog-eared books on my nightstand, the faint smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the ribbons and medals from past victories bleaching in the noon sun that always shines so brightly in my bedroom. It’s a feeling that has followed me to every house, dorm room, and apartment, and it’s a feeling that I always trace back to my mom.

My mom has always been able to find the homey charm in any space. With seemingly small details, she has turned a house in suburban Chicago into the backdrop of my life—complete with height measurements on the laundry room walls to prove it. As I move away from my hometown, I aim to foster that sense of home in new spaces and new cities—but no matter how far I go, I find myself coming back to these five special tips.

Remember the Five Senses

...Especially smell. Be sure to embrace the natural aromas that enter your house, and feel free to add a few of your favorite scents (like just-baked chocolate chip cookies). Don’t underestimate the power of a soothing candle or room spray, and look for ones that are linked to specific memories or emotions—like freshly cut grass in the summertime (try this candle).

Put Your Memories on Display

Try not to banish all of your photos to an album in your garage. Although barely detectable, scattering images of your friends and family around your home will unconsciously remind you of the important people in your life. Be sure to include every aspect of your life—yes, silly pictures are encouraged!

Don’t Let the Television Control the Room

Dispersing books, games, and pieces of art around your living room will offer more options for downtime. Plus, kids and guests are encouraged to really interact with each other instead of collectively staring at a screen.

Create a Home, Not a Museum

Purchase furniture to enjoy, not to look at. The most special pieces in my home are as dynamic as we are—molding under us, collecting chips and scuffs like scars, each with their own unique stories.

Let Yourself Shine Through

It’s okay to deviate from decorating trends. Allow your home to be a reflection of you and your family, a place where personalities and styles can clash in perfect harmony.