We’re starting to feel settled in our new home—it’s been 10 months since we moved in! We moved in immediately after closing and did not do any renovations before then (a first for us!). Slowly over the months we painted, wallpapered, ordered furniture, moved around rugs and started to decorate. We did not take on any major renovations this year except for adding wood floors to our (formerly carpeted) upstairs. Instead, we did lots and lots of smaller projects.
Finally, I am starting to see a glimpse of the home I was imagining the first time we viewed the house. It’s beginning to take shape and feel like home. I’m cheesy levels of grateful that we get to live here everyday. I feel so lucky.
Here are 10 purchases (both big and small, save and splurge) that have helped make our house feel like a home. Some are functional, some are beautiful and most are both!
1. Outdoor benches for our front porch.
Our front porch was kind of just a weird empty space for a while. We decided to add a few benches and a few plants and it made a huge difference. I choose these affordable wood benches. I sit out there pretty often and watch Jeremy take the kids for a spin in their little ride-on car and lately we’ve had a lot of deer in our yard, which is SO cute! Easy upgrade and they look great year round!
2. Affordable curtains that made a big impact.
When we viewed our house, I noticed that there were basically no curtains anywhere. When I brought it up to Jeremy, he was hesitant to add curtains, especially to the large windows and sliding doors that look out to our pool area. For months, I would insist we needed to add curtains and he was worried it would look bad. After showing him lots of inspiration pics, we went for it and both instantly LOVED them. They changed the whole vibe of our rooms and made them feel cozier, more pulled together, more “grown up,” if that makes sense. The best part is that I was able to find affordable curtains, so adding them to the eight windows that needed them ended up costing us around $1,000, which might sound like a lot but it’s a bargain for eight huge windows, as many of them have four panels instead of two.
When I showed them on Instagram, it was one of the strongest reactions I have ever received. You all loved the difference they made! Anyway, I can talk all day about curtains, what is wrong with me?
Here’s what we used: Affordable linen curtains, gold rods, gold rings (you will need seven rings per curtain panel), and gold tie backs.
3. Supernova essential oil diffuser.
I love diffusing essential oils in place of candles 90% of the time. I ended up purchasing three of these diffusers to use throughout our home. I enjoy the ritual of adding water and oils each morning and it’s something that makes our house smell like home. It’s very comforting to me. I specifically love the Supernova diffuser because, well, obviously the name charmed me and also I love how the light glows through the little holes. It has different color settings and I like to leave mine on warm white.
One thing I noticed: The light is too bright for bedrooms, so for sleeping I prefer this diffuser. It also comes in a lot of great colors.
(This is what the water filter looks like installed in our garage.)
4. Whole house water filter.
For years, I dreamed of and planned to purchase a whole house water filter. I ended up going with Aquasana and I am happy to say it’s everything I hoped it would be. Every faucet in our home has filtered water now, so no need for a filter or bottled water—ever. The other thing I love about it is that even our showers and baths have filtered water. It was absolutely worth the splurge to me. We’ve had it more than a year now and I drink so, so, so much more water every single day!
5. Montessori toy shelf
When we moved into our new home, I knew I wanted to have some aesthetically pleasing toy storage on our main level. I love the idea of swapping out toys seasonally or when they are not being played with. I splurged on a toy shelf from Etsy—it was the middle of the pandemic and I was like, “Oh well, it’s cool to support an Etsy seller.” It took a while to arrive because so many families had the same idea as me. It has been a great upgrade to our space. The kids always know where to find toys and where they go when it’s time to clean up. Our other solution is we have a bunch of baskets hidden behind the sofa in our movie room, but that’s more for block and sets. On the Montessori shelf, I store their cute wooden toys and dolls. I enjoy redoing it each season. I highly recommend it for anyone with toddlers. All the toys are on their level and you can put out a small collection of toys instead of endless toys that create clutter (we have those too, but it’s nice keeping them away from our main living space most of the time).
6. Quality pool towels.
Our almost-daily pool routine creates LOTS of wet towels. I never knew there was a big difference in pool towel quality until we started using them so often. Over the past year, we’ve honed in on our favorite, which dry us off well. Plus, the towels dry quickly (so we can use them again the next day—there’s nothing worse than trying to reuse a soggy towel). I found Slow Tide last winter and just ordered even more so we can use them pretty much exclusively. They work great, dry quickly and age VERY well. This is the exact one I got—I really like their cotton towels and I love the subtle rainbow print.
7. Stick-on tile in our kitchen.
I kind of did this project on a whim, not knowing just how much of an improvement it would make! I spent $246 on the stick-on tile material and I promise you it makes me smile every single day! It was such a huge improvement and gave our kitchen a personality that she so desperately wanted. You can read full details of this project here.
8. Bar Keepers Friend.
Where have you been all my life??? I just used this to clean all my copper pots and WOW—they look brand new.
9. Round wood coffee table.
I love this coffee table. It’s so easy to wipe and clean, no sharp edges for our kiddos to bonk and it’s beautiful. I love the subtle woodgrain texture. We used this table in our movie room and it’s a great coffee table to pair with a comfy sectional.
10. Salt lamp nightlights.
I swapped to buying these last year when we moved and I LOVE the pink glow they give off. Our previous night lights were LED and they put off a very cold and too bright glow. These are super cozy. We use them in our kids’ room and bathroom and around the house.
I had so much fun putting this list together. I’d love to hear what your best purchases have been, especially if they are surprising or you feel very passionate about them (like me with my cheap curtains and water filter).
Thanks so much for reading! I’m available to chat in the comments if you’d like to hear more about any of these items. If there’s anything else you’d like to hear a review of, just let me know! XX! Elsie
Credits // Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Kelly and Elsie Larson.