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House & Home

Designer Tips: Turn your house into a home

Posted February 2

The feeling of being at home provides a sense of comfort and joy like no other place. Home is that place that looks and feels familiar visually, physically and emotionally. It is the place where guests are welcomed, memories are made and life unfolds. When turning a house into a home, it is important to focus on the design elements that inspire you and influence a look and feel of home. If done correctly, it will provide you much enjoyment for many, many years to come. Consider these designer tips for inspiration on your next home decorating project or remodel!

Thinking of home reminds me of a popular musical, “The Wiz,” which is a theatrical retelling of the classic novel “The Wizard of Oz,” the lead character, Dorothy, wakes up in a place that no longer looks or feels like home. Dorothy sets out on a journey to find a way to return to the place that she knows as home. The heartfelt performance draws the audience into the special place that Dorothy refers to as home. Within that special place is where she finds her sense of peace, comfort, and familiarity. So, imagine being the lead character entering into a new place where nothing seems familiar or connected. The place has walls, floors, ceilings and even windows, but it lacks personality and charm. Chances are… this empty place just might be your new house.

When it comes to design, your house should embody the beautiful and distinct characteristics of the lead character(s). In this case, the lead character is you, the homeowner. Closing on your first house is a very special and exciting moment. When you enter into your new home, the areas may feel like you are wandering around in the “Land of Oz.” The house just does not look and feel quite like “Kansas” anymore, it is unfamiliar. Your next step is to find a way to transform the unfamiliar surroundings into a space that looks and feels familiar; in other words, a place that feels like home. As the homeowner, it is important to take steps to personalize your house in a way that brings you peace and comfort. In fact, these are two key attributes that will help to transform your house into a home.

So you may want to know, what exactly are the steps to turn a house into a home? And where should you begin? Just follow me down the yellow brick road as I guide you through some helpful tips that will transform your house into the place that looks and feels like home.

Knowledge is power

As we ease on down the yellow brick road in an effort to design a place called home, our first visit is with a Scarecrow that is in search of knowledge. Knowledge of the design space is essential for building a plan to transform your house. Measure, measure, measure…knowing the size and dimensions of the design space in comparison to the furniture is important in order to choose an ideal furniture configuration. This will help to mitigate spacing issues which can cause limitations for the room’s functionality. My recommendation is to first focus on larger areas of the home because common areas, such as family rooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens are regularly used for relaxing and/or entertaining. The larger spaces can influence the look, feel and the design direction for other rooms in your home. If the room is intended for conversational gatherings, the furniture layout should provide seating that faces other seating in the room. In the same regard, in areas where there are focal points such as televisions or fireplaces, be sure to configure furniture in the direction of the focal point for best viewing comfort. Remember that comfort is the most important contribution to a space that will make it feel most like home.

Home is where the heart is

Our next visit is with a Tin Man who believes that he struggles with displaying heartfelt emotion. When it comes to developing a design plan to look and feel like home, be sure to consider adding sentimental elements such as books, travel items, and photos. These items will assist in creating familiarity in the space. Each time you enter into the space, you will have a heightened awareness of comfort due to the familiar additions.

It is said that the kitchen is the heart of the home, and in most cases I agree. The kitchen is typically a gathering place for family and friends to feast, to fellowship, and to have fun. My design tip for this space is to incorporate lighting that can be adjusted for the mood. Whether you are cooking and require lots of overhead light, or having conversations with friends, a dimmer switch and/or under-cabinet lighting helps to set the mood. A second tip is to have adequate seating for the guests and you will no doubt be known for having the greatest hangout spot. The same lighting and seating tip also works for other common spaces in your home. Although the kitchen is considered the heart of the home, I believe the heart of the home is truly the place where you and your guests feel most comfortable. Again, focus on the sentimental elements and the mood of each space and the look and feel of home will always follow.

Dare to be inspired

Our last visit is with a Lion who lacks confidence in his abilities. Designing or re-designing a new home can be intimidating when you are working with a blank canvas in order to update the look and feel of your home. Turning a house into a home is one of the most important, personalized things that you can do. It captures what makes you feel comfortable and at peace. As a designer, I depend on my clients to provide me information about what they like, how they live, and what inspires them. In other words, you know best about what you love. I encourage you to be inspired by what makes your house feel like home.

In summary, I recommend working with your larger rooms and more expensive items first. This helps to provide color inspiration and influences the room design and furniture configuration. Your next step is to choose colors that you love for your walls. I recommend neutrals for the majority of the space. Additional colors can be added through accent walls, draperies, and accessories. Most of all, focus on elements that are comfortable and have sentimental value. Following these design tips will help you bypass the “Design Wizard of Oz” and down the yellow brick road to a place that you will certainly identify as home.


Howard Eason, a self-taught interior and creative designer, was featured as a cast member on the second season of HGTV’s All American Handyman and became one of the 20 contestants on the show to compete in weekly timed elimination challenges. He successfully made it through to the top 12 on the All American Handyman series. Eason launched his company, HE Designs, LLC, as a full time focus in 2011.

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