My husband always finds the most interesting articles! It probably has something to do with actually knowing how to use Twitter, but I digress—he’s the best at finding information that I love. Today an article popped up in my inbox titled The Subtle Design Features That Make Cities Feel More Hostile: Think your city doesn’t like you? You’re right. After reading it, I wondered if there are ways that we make our homes feel hostile without even knowing it. Here are the top 6 most common mistakes that I’ve discovered, making our homes feel unfriendly, even if we aren’t aware of it and how to fix them to make your home more welcoming:
1. First Impressions
You know how important it is to make a good impression for a job interview, and you might have even heard that the first impression sticks with a person throughout their whole relationship, despite the changes and maybe misunderstandings of an initial meeting. The same is true with your home: the first impression is everything! Typically, you would think that your home’s first impression always lies in the entryway and foyer, but let’s start with the outside first!
Take a walk outside and look at the exterior of your home. Sure, the landscaping might not be perfect, the brick might need re-pointing, the list goes on and on. The real question is about your entryway: is it covered or open to the elements? An awning or some kind of roof for your guests to take shelter under (while they wait for you to answer the door) is the single most important thing that makes people feel welcome in your home. So, if you ignore the rest of this post, make sure to remember that!
Maybe you can’t afford an awning right now, here’s some great ideas to make your front door seem more welcoming:
- Add furniture! So much exterior furniture looks like interior furniture now, try adding a lovely chair or a cafe table!
- Plants and planters: Bright and cheery colors or soft, draping florals are a perfect way to bring a little life to your front stoop and welcome your guests into your home through a tunnel of smiling buds.
- Welcome mat or exterior rug
- Lighting! Make sure that your entryway is well-lit to create an inviting home impression.
2. The Foyer
Now we can move onto the foyer area. This is your second chance for a first impression! My tip for making your foyer more inviting is to make sure that all your guest’s needs are met right there. Sometimes going to someone’s house (especially for the first time) can be really intimidating: should I take my shoes off, is it weird that I’m not wearing socks? Where does my coat go? Do I take my purse with me? Do they have a dog? The list goes on and on…I think some pretty absurd thoughts when I’m visiting a home for the first time! So, let’s make sure to calm all of those fears without saying a word: make sure that they have a place to hang coats and purses, take off their shoes (if you’re a no-shoes kind of home) and maybe even sit to take care of all of that business. It’s great to provide all these things and “stage” the area with a coat or scarf, even a pair of shoes, so that they don’t need to ask where things go!
Maybe you’re one of the majority of people that doesn’t have a proper foyer—maybe your front door walks right into the dining room, living room, or kitchen—that’s OK! Try separating the space with an area rug or small room divider. This will help the space feel like it’s a cozy foyer without adding walls to the space.
Have you ever walked into a house that is covered in pictures of the owner, their dog, their everything? You may have noticed and thought to yourself holy cow, this is just one big shrine to these people and felt really weird! On the flip side, you may have walked into a home walls totally bare of anything personal and wondered if anyone even lived there. There’s definitely a balance to personalizing your home. And I’m not saying to never add personal photos to your home—it’s certainly so homey and a wonderful way to start conversations with guests and family members. My suggestion would be to have at least one piece of art (that fits your style) for every 2 family/personal photos. This will give you a nice balance of larger, colorful pieces and personal family photos.
4. Sense-ible Design
Interior design is all about the senses: how are your senses taking in the space around you and how does that make you feel in the space? So, creating hospitality in a space is really about how the space is interpreted. This could vary from space to space, but there are some general guidelines that (most) humans share.
You’ve heard me talk about scale before and you’ll hear it again, I’m sure! Scale is so important, but most people wouldn’t be able to pinpoint that as the reason that they feel uncomfortable in a space. As with most things, scale runs on a wide spectrum and really depends on the size and scale of your home: if you have a large home, cathedral ceilings, and giant windows, you’re going to get away with large, overstuffed furniture. Standard sized furniture is going to look dwarfed in that type of a space. The same is true in something like a studio apartment—oversized furniture is going to look huge and take up the whole space, you’ll be looking for something with clean lines and small scale for a smaller space like that.
See how weird this love seat feels in this large room alongside of an over-sized coffee table? Now it all makes sense…
Now, before I start this one, I don’t want to be accused of being afraid of color! I’m not saying that color is bad, but I will say that over-saturated colors are not inviting to everyone. Anyone that has walked into Walmart in the past 2 years and stared at their neon-blue walls wondering why they were suddenly nauseous will agree with me. Color is incredibly powerful and very saturated hues can even have physical effects on people. So, next time you’re re-painting, maybe consider taking it one shade lighter if you’re not sure about how saturated your color choice is.
There you have it! 6 mistakes that (most) all of us make in our homes that might feel hostile or unwelcoming. I hope that this list has helped you pinpoint some problem areas in your home and given you some ideas for creating a more welcoming space. What are some things that you have found feel unwelcoming in homes that you have visited? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!