What Makes a House a Home?

What Makes A House A Home

What Makes a House a Home?

Over the years, I have realized there are key aspects that transform a place of shelter into a meaningful space for you and your loved ones. My husband and I have an annual tradition of watching “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie series (yes, I am admitting it). The premise of “The Hobbit” is largely based around the importance of having a home; a place where you belong, where you enjoy the everyday small comforts of life and where you gather with those you love. The main character had a strong sense of home and all of the above. In contrast, the other group of characters had lost their home and were willing to risk everything to recapture it.

Back to reality in modern-day America, there are things that we at J Hill Interiors have done for clients to capture this concept, and things my husband and I have done in our personal house to create a home-like atmosphere. Here are just a few:


People make a home; not a structure or building. We have homes to shelter us and our families, but also open our space to others. We use homes as a place where people commune, break bread together, bond and grow. If your home doesn’t suit the people who live there or your guests, it’s something to re-evaluate. For example, if kids or pets start taking over, make sure the sofa you purchase is not just pretty, but outdoor grade or soil/stain resistant. Another example, if elderly people or those with back or knee challenges live in your home or visit, don’t purchase plush, deep upholstery pieces that make it hard to get up. Upholstery should then be on the shallower, firmer side.


Your home should be an expression of who you are, what you like, your style and what matters to you. It shouldn’t be a carbon copy design of a Houzz/Pinterest kitchen or living room picture. It also shouldn’t exude, for example, the Architectural Digest April 2019 issue, or be a display of the latest trends. If hosting is what matters to you, then your kitchen and flow of common spaces and furniture arrangements should reflect that, among other things. If you are passionate about modern architecture and love minimalistic designs, then your home should convey that. If you love traveling, sports, reading, music, etc., then your home should accommodate those things. If you love bright colors or pastels; it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. Incorporate that into your home!


Our kick-off meeting with every new client begins with a thorough questionnaire. Much of that is to personalize the home but to take it a step further, we want to utilize objects or things that matter to them. It could be an heirloom armoire, framing their grandfather’s letter from World War II, photography or symbols of locations that have meaning, family wall collages or other mementos they may have. We try and incorporate these things in a tasteful fashion that is cohesive with their home and accentuates the concept/object itself. This emphasis on what is important to the client trickles down to all aspects of the design. For instance, we do not decorate with cooking or fashion coffee table books if the client does not relate to those subjects. Moreover, the art and wall objects we place in someone’s home should strike a chord rather than something from a generalized showroom.

Function and Form

There is nothing more frustrating than a beautiful yet poorly functioning design. For example, a shower may be tiled with beautiful materials but if the showerhead is at the wrong height, or has the wrong plumbing fixtures, the client will be frustrated every time he or she uses it. Similarly, a kitchen can be aesthetically pleasing, but if all components are in the wrong place, it doesn’t serve its main purpose. Alternatively, a state-of-the-art modern industrial kitchen is great, but a traditionalist may find it too cold and sterile. Or, a house could be extraordinarily ornate and detailed, yet a minimalist would be anxiety-ridden with all the fuss. All that is to say, a home must spark joy from an aesthetic standpoint, but it equally has to serve its purpose and accommodate your personal needs and desires.


This may seem like a small thing, but real-life plants make a huge difference in a home. It brings immediate warmth and life to a space. The plants can sometimes even be the focal point.

Enjoy making your house a home!