When you move into a new house all you have are four walls and a lot of boxes. If it's your very first house you might not even have that many boxes; when I moved into mine all I had were some clothes, books, and a few old prints I'd collected over the years. It really felt bare and not like home at all, but over the past couple of months I've made it a place I want to come back to after a long day at work. I've found that the one thing that makes a house feel like your own home is filling it with your own things. It's not just about using accessories for decoration; it's about what the objects mean to you.
With all the design programmes on television you probably know all about feature walls, creating space with mirrors and lighting, and keeping everything in neutral colours. The trouble is, if you make your home picture-perfect and follow all these rules, it may look good but it could also feel soulless. A tidy home has a nice atmosphere but it can look clinical and cold.
A house is only a home if you put your own stamp on it. That means putting your books on the shelves, putting your pictures on the walls and painting them whatever colour you like. If you're renting a house there will be restrictions as to what you can do. Painting for example is probably out of the question, and putting up more shelves might be against the rules too. In this case it's more difficult to make the house feel like yours (because, ultimately, it isn't), but there are some things you can do.
Concentrate on things like soft furnishings and furniture. If you can't make any changes to the fabric of the building, concentrate on what you fill the rooms with. Pictures and framed prints are brilliant for making walls look less bare, old furniture fills a room and gives it character, and candles and incense make the room smell good and inviting.
You don't have to spend a fortune on your new clutter. Avoid furniture shops and instead find older pieces. Auctions can be great for picking up things that need a bit of work, so if you don't mind some elbow grease you can find a bargain. Alternatively, antique fairs and car boot sales are the best place to go. There'll be a lot more choice and you can haggle over price.
Mirrors for example can be hundreds of pounds in a shop, but you can pick one up for a tiny fraction of that second-hand. Mismatched furniture doesn't have to look shabby; it can look quirky and add some character to a house. Wall panels, wall hangings and quirky statues can also add a lot of interest to a boring space.
Soft furnishings add the perfect finishing touch. Invest in throws and rugs to muffle noise and create warmth. With so many modern houses having wood flooring, rugs and throws are essential to balance this out and give a homely feeling. They can also add colour to a neutral space and if you move on, they're the easiest thing to pack away.