Home is where the heart is… And for most of us, it’s also where our mind is quite a lot of the time. When our thoughts aren’t occupied by the twists and turns of our career or the inter departmental drama of office politics. When they don’t turn to family; whether it’s appreciating the family we have, thinking of expanding yours or simply considering starting one. And when they’re not filled with fond meditations on your relationship and how lucky you are to have found the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with… It’s natural that our thoughts turn to the home.

Whether it’s practical considerations like whether the new addition to the family necessitates a move to somewhere larger. Whether it’s matters of necessity like getting that guttering looked at or making sure that your cavity wall insulation will keep your family warm in the coming winter. Whether it’s creative matters like how to transform your spare room into a home office or how to add a little design flair to the living room or whether it’s simply thoughts of snuggling on the sofa with your family on a dark and rainy night the home is never far from our thoughts… The trouble is, however, that we don’t always think of our home in the right way.

Many of us see the home as a finish line that’s forever being moved just out of reach. We’ve been conditioned by society to believe that with the next promotion at work, the next phone upgrade, the next big TV, upgrading to a bigger car or buying a slightly bigger house. We convince ourselves that with the next big purchase, we’ll have arrived. But life simply doesn’t work that way. Your home is a neat microcosm of your life. No purchase will make it complete and no renovation will make it perfect. Let’s not forget that life is a journey and not a destination. Your home, like you, is in a constant state of transformation and evolution. And making a happy and fulfilling life with your family in that home is not a sprint or even a marathon. There is no finish line. It’s more like a recipe for a cake that you never stop baking. Rather than keeping your sights set on an unattainable finish line, your time may be better spent simply ensuring that your metaphorical cake has the right literal ingredients. Like any good chef, you have to be prepared to improvise, make changes on the fly and keep on tasting your work to make sure that it’s as good as it looks. Here we’re going to look at some of the most crucial ingredients of a happy and healthy family home…


The key ingredient is love

Sounds like a hippy platitude? Yup, no question. Does that mean it isn’t true? Absolutely not. A happy household has to begin with love. There are no two ways about it. But love isn’t just something you feel, or even something you say. Sometimes, it’s something you do. It’s in every time you slip out of the room for a moment to make your partner a cuppa even though they didn’t ask for one. It’s on the wall when you hang the painting that they love but you could take or leave. It’s all over your mantlepiece where smiling pictures of your kids sit. It’s in the way that important dates for your partner and your kids are marked on the calendar and the way in which your kids’ rooms are each decorated in a way that captures their emerging tastes and personalities.

It’s easy to be dismissive of the importance of love in the household but it really is the driving force between not only the random acts of kindness that you perform every day in every room, but in the design choices you make.

A big ol’ dollop of respect

Respect is also an enormously important ingredient. Without respect, you can’t really have love and without love, the whole metaphorical souffle falls flat. There are many ways in which your home shows respect. Its ample in the way in which you and your partner have compromised on your home decor choices, incorporating design elements that reflect aspects of both of your personalities to create an amalgamated style that speaks not only to you as individuals but to you as a couple. If the place was originally yours or theirs, it’s in the way in which you imprinted upon their style without robbing it of their own idiosyncratic charm. It’s shown in the way you treat everyone in the home as an equal. Yes, it’s a parent’s job to guide a child and give them structure, but you run the house as a democracy and not a dictatorship. You respect and value your children’s opinions without pandering to their every whim (nobody wants to raise a spoiled brat). And that respect is reciprocated. You feel valued in your home and able to relax, speak your mind and be yourself… That’s a precious feeling that really can’t be taken for granted.  


An ounce of expression

Without your ability to make your home your own, the home is just a house. In order for you to feel truly comfortable and happy in your home it needs to be a canvas upon which you can imprint your own personal sense of style and taste. Your home should give visitors and guests a virtual tour of your mind, incorporating design elements that speak to your personality. It’s in the colours you paint on the walls, the art you hand, the lighting that goes overhead and even the books and DVDs you display. Without the ability to express yourself and make your home your own you can never truly feel relaxed and at peace.


Throw out the recipe book with a spoonful of experimentation

They say that life begins outside of your comfort zone, and sometimes the best ideas we have are the ones that are outside of the box and experimental. They say that every time you go clothes shopping you should buy one piece that scares you a little. So it is with home decor. Don’t be afraid to take risks with colours and shades, provocative wall art or statement furniture pieces. You’re a complex and multifaceted individual and that should be reflected in your home decor choices. If you’re afraid to take risks and experiment this can lead you to become creatively frustrated and that isn’t good for the family dynamic.

A generous helping of space

As the old song says, everybody needs a little time away… From eachoooOOOoooother. Time spent apart in your own personal space is perfectly healthy and natural and not only should you have a space to call your own, every member of the household should expect the same privilege. More space doesn’t necessarily mean buying a bigger home, although you’d be surprised at the affordable house and land packages on offer. It simply means that each member of the family has their own space, or at least access to their own space in which they can spend some time alone, let off steam and stop yourselves from getting under eachother’s feet. Whether it’s a home office or gym, a place where you or your partner can workout, play video games, read or watch a movie alone, or whether it’s simply ensuring that your kids have the privacy and sanctity of their own room. A generous helping of personal space makes for a healthy family dynamic. It allows you to strike a balance between compartmentalisation and consolidation.


A shake of shared responsibility

The days of the bedraggled matriarch dashing around the home like a hummingbird, making everything perfect while hubby brings home the bacon are well and truly over. In an age where most of us are working harder than ever for our money, it only makes sense for the household responsibilities, from making the beds to emptying the cat litter to be shared.

An imbalance of responsibility around the house can only lead to frustration and resentment. Even if you find housework therapeutic, it’s unfair to expect yourself to bear the sole responsibility for maintaining a clean and tidy home. Of course your partner needs to pull their weight, but there’s no reason why even young kids can’t help out too. If you struggle to motivate your kids to pitch in with the housework, you may find an app like Choremonster may help to incentivise your kids with a subtle gamification of their responsibility. The app allows you to create a list of chores on the app, and to keep track of what they’ve accomplished so that it can be rewarded. Your son or daughter has their own login with which to mark chores off when they are complete, and they will earn points by completing their chores. These points can then be used to “purchase” rewards of your choosing.


When you have the right ingredients and bind them together with love, patience and acceptance, your home will remain happy and fulfilled even as its aesthetic evolves.