Creating a home that is so “you” is sometimes overwhelming, isn’t it? I’m sad to admit it took me years to realize I didn’t actually love glossy, dark stained furniture from Bombay or monochromatic everything. And brown + beige with a touch of tan does not equal relaxing. It equals dark and cave-like.

Over the years, as I’ve matured and learned who I really am as an actual grown-up. I’ve also figured out what I love and what’s actually my taste. I’ve learned what type of environment makes me thrive.

Creating a creative home. What does that even mean? A friend was helping in my garden recently and as we were deciding what to do with the space that had basically become a graveyard for garter snakes and juniper bushes, she asked me a fantastic question:

“Give me five words for how you want to feel when spending time out here.”

I’ve since used that same way of thinking for designing my entire home. Every room has a slightly different feel because it has a different purpose, but for our home as a whole, my words are: Welcoming, cozy, light, and playful yet grown-up.

I want our home to be a space that inspires us and feels inviting to everyone who steps inside our doors. I don’t expect perfection, but still crave orderly. Beautiful.

It’s a hard balance, having a home that’s affable enough we can take our shoes off and relax…yet still a space we don’t need to ask someone to take their shoes off at all. Because it’s a real house. Not a showpiece. Sometimes I’m good at welding the two together, but I’ve noticed the more kids we add to the mix, the more organized and streamlined I desire things to be. Like it’s something I can control in the midst of the chaos and business of a large family.

If I had hundreds of thousands to spend on my interior or could hire a team from HGTV (Emily Henderson or Joanna Gaines, if you’re reading this. I need you.), it’d be pretty easy to pull this off. But since I live in the real world where budgets are an actual thing so my children don’t go without important items like you know, shoes or food…I have the privilege of getting my hands dirty and act creatively in how I decorate our home.

My absolute favorite thing to use is party supplies. Stay with me here. There’s a gorgeously inventive way to do it and a way that…well, looks like Chuck E Cheese blew up inside your house. I’m hoping I’m not the latter.

Bunting and tissue paper tassels have made their way throughout our home. Garlands of colorful paper flowers sit handsomely atop the charming built-in in the kitchen and line our marble table behind the couch. We even have a disco ball resting on our mantle.

Disco BallMy favorite room in our entire house though is the kids’ study room. I don’t homeschool our children, but it looks similar to what you’d see if I were. Our white painted farmhouse table sits on one side of the long, rectangular room with outdoor benches from Ikea on either side.

The wall behind, hangs a massive world map that just needed something. It just seemed too…I don’t know, basic. The print was almost crying out for a little whimsy. So up went bunting, tassels, strings of colorful honeycombs, and satin ribbon, which I draped around and now, flanks either side.

I know what you’re thinking: That’s a room for kids. It’s easier to be creative in a child’s space. But what about the blank wall above the horribly dated headboard I recovered in a cool blue in our Master?

That portion of the wall sat empty for months. After finding a papier-mâché deer head on clearance, I decided to open up some supplies I’d been saving for our daughter’s birthday and fan them out above our bed. Layering, layering, layering. I don’t know if it’ll stay there forever, in fact I’m always moving things around, so likely it won’t. I’ll decide to use the deer head somewhere else or take the striped fans down and use them for a party and another idea will hit me. That’s the beauty though. Just because something is there, doesn’t mean it needs to remain there.

Life has seasons, the earth has seasons, and your home likely goes through seasons, as well. When January comes, and Christmas comes down, our house is often nearly bare. Decorations minimal, rooms quieted and calm. I need that after the craziness of the Christmas season. And so does our home.

Being creative in making a home that reflects who we are as a family has become a bit of a passion and (through a lot of trial and error), I’ve been able to make our surroundings reflects us as individuals and as a family.

Four of our six kids are adopted from Ethiopia so we have graphic, brightly colored maps all over our walls. The beautiful renderings of Africa, the US, and a few of the entire world are fun reminders of where our kids have come from. Now that their English has gotten better, they can point at towns they’d lived in or where other family members are from. We also have a collection of globes, my favorites perch in that random space between the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling.

In our dining room, we have three dirty, yellow jerry cans tied together loosely with twine. It may seem strange to a newcomer or someone who doesn’t know our family’s story, but one of our sons who came from Ethiopia was a Water Walk Boy. He journeyed hours every day with one of these old containers on his back, with the mission of finding water for his family. And our biological elementary-aged son is forming his own 501-C3 to help raise awareness and inspire children to change the world, after he saw a group of women and children traveling for water on his trip to Africa.

A creative home is one that evokes a specific feeling and fills you up. It should whisper adoringly to everyone who enters your door…<strong>what do you want your home to whisper? What would you like it to kindle in yourself and in others? And what five words would you use??

Teresa Anderson

Teresa is a writer, speaker, and busy mamma of 6 (2 biological and 4 from Ethiopia). She writes at Hugs and Punches, striving to see the beauty and embracing the joy within all craziness, loudness, silliness and mess that is their lives.

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