The front door stood open. Inside was a hallway covered in large, off-white tiles. On one side was a room with light brown carpet, twelve-foot ceilings and several windows with white blinds. The walls, also white, were bare. Copia Magazine: Make Your House a Home

If I didn't know differently myself, I'd say there was nothing special about the building. But the truth was that this was a very significant building in my life. It was my very first house.

My husband and I walked from one bare room to another, touching the walls, pulling back the blinds and opening the closet doors. Though we'd dreamed about the day when we didn't have to send off rent checks to a landlord, the real question at hand was how we were going to make this house a home.

Some people dread owning a house. What started out as the freedom to make their own decisions about the place they live turns in to drudgery as household chores take priority and the garage becomes a storage room for things that don't fit in the basement. We have now been homeowners for three years, and in that time, I've learned a few ways to turn the bare walls of a house into an uncluttered but personality-filled home. Here's how we did it: Copia Magazine: Make Your House a Home

Decorate without breaking the bank.

Instead of throwing a dresser in the bedroom and a desk in my office, we thought about the personality of each room. We weren't in any position to tear up all of the carpet, retile the floors, repaint every wall or buy new furniture, so we did what we could and continue to add small touches.

Because my husband and I are both travelers, we decided to give every room of the house a destination theme. Our living room, for example, represents Africa. We've adorned the walls with cloth samples and the shelves with handicrafts we picked up in Kenya. Instead of painting the whole room, we chose two accent walls, which added just the right amount of safari-swept color.

The key to decorating is that it can be done piecemeal but with a vision in mind. Let your house reflect who you are, even if you are on a budget.

Don't overcrowd.Copia Magazine: Make Your House a Home

It's been said that if you have the space, you'll fill it up. Don't let your house overwhelm you. It shouldn't become a chore to work around piles of clutter. You'll love your home more if you keep it a home and don't let it become a storage facility.

Give your house and garage a thorough cleaning twice a year and donate any items you no longer need or use. Purchase storage containers and label them so you can always find what you're looking for. When the stuff you live with begins to stress you out, you aren't in the ideal living situation. Cut back and keep the things in your home to a minimum.

Save for a rainy day.

There will be big projects to tackle around the house. Perhaps your yard needs some landscaping or you'd really like to remodel the bathroom. Start saving now in a separate account set aside for your home, and decide what your house-to-home goals are. In our family, we save for one necessity for our house, such as replacing dead plants in the yard, and then pay for one cosmetic change, such as buying a fun new appliance for the kitchen.

In addition, once you're a homeowner, you've got to be ready to drop some cash at a moment's notice for repairs or unexpected needs. Don't forget to stow a little extra away so that you can bounce back from the damage and quickly turn your home back into a place you respect, appreciate and love.

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How To Make Your House a Home - by JoAnna Haugen