How to Fall in Love with Your Home

How to Fall in Love with Your Home

I‘m living in a fairly newly built house, but I still have a crush on older homes. You may not get crushes on older houses, but I really do. I fall hard. I adore the character that comes with a charming house built before I was even born. The rounded wood doors, creaky wood floors, the chunky wainscoting, the old lanterns in the hallways.

For more tips & inspiration on how to Love The Home You Have, check out my new book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

I’ve been blessed to live my dreams in many beautiful old houses. And I’ve been infatuated with many more old houses I’ve only loved from afar. I obsess over older homes in neighborhoods and I stalk them online. When I was younger I dreamed of castles and fairytales and all that romantic girlie stuff, so it is only fitting that I’d romanticize life at home.

How to Fall in Love with Your Home

But alas, owning an old house isn’t always as romantic as it sounds. Trust me on that. With character and age come many expected and unexpected updates and repairs. You dream of decorating and furnishing that lovely old home, but in reality your money might go to exciting things like new sewer pipes, roofs, and electrical panels.

Ahhh, the romantic love of an older house can easily dim once you experience what it’s like to replace a sewer line when you were saving up to buy a brand new six burner stove for that charming but oh-so-out-of-date and non-functioning kitchen.

How to Fall in Love with Your Home

That is one of the reasons we chose to buy a new house this time around. We needed to know with relative confidence that we wouldn’t have a major plumbing repair or roof leak in the first few years of ownership.

Ain’t nobody got time or money for that.

How to Fall in Love with Your Home

We had so much else to focus on when we moved here that an old house just wasn’t something we could handle at that time. But, alas, the romance, tingly toes and giddy feelings we normally had with houses we had crushes on and planned to buy just weren’t there this time. This was more like a practical, business-like decision you make with your head — not a love affair of the heart.

How to Fall in Love with Your Home

But the saving grace with this more practical house buying endeavor was I’ve always had a bit of a secret dream, to buy a new house and give it the character I’ve always loved in my old houses. Maybe if I added some old house character I would feel those goosebumps about my new house too? It was worth a try to see if we could have the best of both worlds.

I’m not sure my new house will ever be as romantic to me as that beautiful old house in my dreams. But if I’ve learned anything at all about life thus far, it is that romance is often something we need to create. It can be right in front of us, if we only would nurture it and see it as worthy of falling in love with. It’s worth the effort to try!

How to Fall in Love with Your Home

Unless you are already living in your dream house (or have a tiny crush on your house already), your love affair with the home you have probably won’t even start until you fan the flames and flirt with it a little bit. You have to make the effort. You can’t settle for mediocre just because you don’t feel the love yet. We might need to get creative and shake things up before we even see a spark.

Maybe we need to start a 40 day love dare for our house. Do something loving for your home every single day for 40 days, and then see how you feel about your home. {update: see my new book, Love the Home You Have, where I share a 30 day love your home challenge!

If those giddy feelings of infatuation for your home are not there yet, all hope for love is not lost. Maybe you have fallen out of love with your home and are looking for greener grass. No house is perfect and circumstances aren’t always ideal. Old house, new house, rental house, borrowed house, military housing, apartment, big house, small house … they all have their issues.

How to Fall in Love with Your Home

But let’s not give up on romance, even if you don’t think you could ever truly fall in love with the home you have. If you let your heart wander a little bit to see the house of your dreams, the home you picture probably doesn’t really resemble what surrounds you every day. And maybe it is as far from it as you can imagine.

But that is OK. Real life romance is much sweeter and more precious because it is what you actually have. It is YOURS to nurture and cherish in whatever way you are able to right now. Even if you won’t live here forever, make the best of the time you have.

Whether it is having fun setting up family dinners at the table, cleaning out a closet to make room for a neglected hobby, hanging a new charming light fixture in place of a standard builder light, recovering some throw pillows in a favorite fabric, painting a wall a color you truly love, counting your blessings every day, or working on something bigger like fixing up a bathroom or kitchen — they can all add to our home’s “love bank.” It’s worth investing emotional energy in the home you have, because you’ll feel that love coming right back to you.

Love and romance take time. You have to start somewhere, anywhere! You just have to start! Build the memories one by one, take care of what you already have, add a little more character and personality every day, and layer by layer you’ll probably fall more in love with your home.


  1. I love old homes too and was just thinking how it is over romanticized owning one as you well know and I do too after owning one for a few years. Our current house had three floors of walls covered in beige, oak trim, doors and oak cabinets. After a year and a half of painting trim, switching out doors and painting the kitchen cabinets, I love my home! The more we do, the more we dream and make it ours, the more I love it. Great post!

  2. So very well put! thank you for sharing. Little Bit

  3. This was such a great post!
    We are moving into a military base home after my husband’s deployment was cancelled and we’d already given up our lease on my favorite house ever! I had planned to move in with family but plans sure have changed!
    Anyways, I have been giving myself pep talks about this new place and trusting God is leading us here for a purpose.
    I loved all these home pictures and even though I ache for one of my own, I like the message here, to fall in love with your own home.

    • Yes, keep those pep talks going because you never know what bigger purposes you might discover in being right where you are! :-)

    • We’ve lived in quarters most of our career — 13 different addresses and I’d like someone else to fall in love with the house we’re in cause we need to sell it and pcs! LOL — and each “set” has been home. True they don’t have the charm and appeal of older homes (we currently live in a Victorian built in 1890) but that doesn’t make them less of a home, the way the home is built/looks isn’t what it makes it a home anyhow! It’s the love and care you put into it, your family,and even quarters can be cozy and charming with a little effort ….

  4. Great post!!! I too luv the charm and romance of the older home. But I too know the headache and heartache that goes along with it. That being said, we have built 2 homes. One, our started home shrtly after we were married, and we later sold it.. went in 24 hours leaving us homeless :-/ We rented it back for a few months as we quickly build another ‘starter home’ for us to live in while we search for a home in the new beach town we were wanting to move to. Wrong… my youngest had a bit of a fit. Said it wasn’t fair us moving when he was going to start High School etc… etc… So we stayed, and began to look for a home. Then the market crashed… and the market was flooded with homes. No way we were going to flip our home as we had planned. Long story short.. we are still in it. Smaller than we wanted, but it’s home non the less. We have made it ours over the years . Years later , and the market is still flooded…. youngest graduated from High school… now in college. We are still here. I am making no move for some time. This is the home I have learned to luv.
    Cheers, Gee

  5. I had to smile when I saw your Love Dare because that 40 day challenge really WORKS with counseling clients!

    Maybe we can start by being grateful for the simple pleasures we enjoy like a roof over our heads, hot water in the faucet, windows and doors that keep us safe and warm. It would take most of us less than a minute to think of 40 things we take for granted in the havens we’re blessed to live in …

  6. What an awesome post!

    So true! I love old houses and we lived in one for 7 years – it was built in the 30s. Great trim, wood floors, charm galore. The only thing is that in the 30’s people didn’t have a lot of electronics. Most rooms had 1 electrical outlet. 1.

    Our second home, which we still live in, is a rancher. Basic, but we are putting our touch on it. We are adding the charm, and this house is a keeper!

  7. This post is exactly where I am at with our current house! We moved from our 1912 house to our current 2000 suburban builder basic house when we moved from Canada to Texas. Not our dream home by any means, but since it looks like we will be here awhile, we have decided to try to make this house more us. We are slowly getting there :) And I when I feel the urge to move on, I remind myself that even if this isn’t our dream home, this is the home our boys are growing up in and this is the home of so many of their firsts. So we stay and we work on, little bits at a time…

  8. Thank you for this post. Everyday, I come home wishing we had another home, but with the market and the economy, no such luck. Thank you for making me realize that we can make it workable. I really needed this!

  9. I love this post Melissa. Living in my 110 year old farmhouse has it’s up and downs just like love!
    There are times that I love it-I love the character, my old door knobs, and creaky floors, but you are so right that money sometimes has to go to things that you don’t see or aren’t so “pretty”.
    I have had to work at contentment and “loving” my home even when it isn’t where I want it to be yet!

    Thanks for this great post : )

  10. Oh, this post speaks directly to my heart. Two years ago, we moved into our “newer” home for practical reasons. My husband will admit to anyone he’s not handy, so we wanted a home with, hopefully, fewer maintenance issues and repairs than our first home that was close to fifty years old. We made several changes to age the home like installing traditional wood floors and brick pavers in the entry, but I just don’t have the warm feeling I had toward our tiny ranch. Hopefully, as we make more memories in this home, my fondness will grow. I suspect I miss the time in our life of the old home rather than the house itself. I am so grateful for our new home, but I am hoping to fall in love with it. Thanks for this post!

  11. Melissa-
    I am a dyed in the wool ‘older home’ lover! –currently living in an older home, but seeing the practicality of living in a new one.
    We’ve lived here 17 years. JUST NOW…it dawned on me. This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere.
    I’ve been feeling the pangs of a new move–for all the wrong reasons. I’ve been here so long, I’ve taken my house for granted.

    I certainly did appreciate reading this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and this statement:
    “take care of what you already have…you’ll probably fall more in love with your home.”

    Love it! Pat

  12. Danyelle Franciosa says

    I really love the words you used there in the last image.
    I would like to pin it. We really have to love the house no matter what it is because a house full of love is a home. Sweet♥

  13. susan maclean says

    Mine is 200 years old…. and looks like a child’s drawing from the front – 2 windows up, 2 windows down, door in the middle and a chimney on top. We moved in with every room painted differently (orange peel walls in the living room; dried blood (colour, not real!) up the stairs, salmon pink kitchen, purple and navy blue small bedroom, jade and silver large bedroom….etc.) But gradually, we are getting it right. We loved it anyway, it just needed some TLC and slowly, slowly we are find colours that suit it. My powder room/downstairs toilet will be on my own blog very soon!

  14. …nothing…nothing…nothing…will ever compare to dragon fly cottage…i still covet that house…blessings

  15. Your 40 Day Love Dare is a great idea! I think I’ll have to write that down and then do it especially as I’m trying to downsize and, eventually, get the farmhouse/farm ready for the sales market. As to the sewer…as with most of life, it’s easier to prevent than deal with…have the tank pumped every few years and that helps…tremendously!

  16. Thanks for sharing those thoughts! I too have gone from living in a beautiful old home that cost a lot to restore to living in a brand new home with a very similiar layout to yours. I find lots of inspiraton in your post because I long for the house that I no longer live in. We moved to another state for my husbands work. I just didn’t have the energy to work so hard on an older home again.

  17. I laughed out loud at your “Wow, I’m going to pin that sewer line to my dream house board” said no one. Ha. So true! :-)

  18. I have to admit that even though my home isn’t the grandest in our community, I absoluely love it. The style is completely different than what you would normally see here. It looked like a plain drywall box when we moved in, but I knew with a little TLC it could be something special. Every project gets me closer to what I always knew it could be.

  19. Great post! I too love the character of older houses, but not the headaches. We live in a 1996 ranch that if we stay in, is going to get some updates and changes to give it more character.

  20. Melissa, thanks for reminding us to be thankful for what we have been blessed with … to include, of course, our homes. I’ve been renting my house to my son and his family for the past three years (they needed the room more than I during this time). I hope to “reclaim” my house at the end of 2014 when his oldest daughter graduates and leaves for college. I’ve missed it so and find myself day dreaming about all the things I want to do when I move back. During these three years, I have fallen more deeply in love with cottage style and can hardly wait to begin my home’s transformation. Maybe living in rentals has made me appreciate more what I know is waiting for me. Regardless of all the work it will take, it will be time and effort well spent to achieve my dream home … once again.

  21. I’ve just recently (two days ago) found your blog and love it. And I actually work at a historic preservation organization (National Trust for Historic Preservation) and we talk a lot about loving old homes. I think the way you express it here is really lovely, and inspiring, and real!

  22. Ah, so reminiscent of the old drive-by days at TIR! Lovely and timely post! Ours is an old house of 35 years so its not charming like a cute cottage built in the early 1900s. It badly needs a paint job, new gutters, garage doors….but I love it for the same reasons Linda mentioned. It gives my family warmth, a place to belong, a place my children will always call home even when they are long gone to their own homes. I stenciled one of my favorite quotes (by Oliver Wendell Holmes) above my breakfast table, “Home, where our feet may leave but never our hearts.” Says it all. Thanks for reminding us to love what we have even if it needs a lot of work. xo, Faith

  23. Melissa, my house is 147 years old, and we bought it about 3 years ago. It is a historically designated home. It was a 4,500 sq ft mansion that was converted to a 3 unit apt building. We then reconverted in back into a single family dwelling. It has 5 fireplaces and tons of mouldings and wood work. I do love it, but it has been an unbelievable challenge. The first 3 years have been re doing the major stuff. I laughed when I saw your post about the sewer line because whenever we repair something, it is usually the basics and I can’t say “Come see all my brand new expensive copper plumbing in the basement”. It is getting better but it will be a lifetime of repair and upgrades. People buy old historic homes because they actually love them, not because they want to flip them. The good news is, I really feel like every time I finish one room, the house whispers to me to “keep going”, so I am compelled to make it happen. It is definitely a journey and labor of love.

    • Even though a sewer line isn’t pretty to photograph or show off to your friends, there is a certain sense of satisfaction in knowing you’ve updated that now and it won’t likely break again while you live there :-). Such a labor of love owning an older home but it is rewarding! I do miss it, but am still grateful for where we are now. It was the right decision for this season.

  24. I love old homes too! But you’re right, the unexpected repair costs, as well as lack of insulation, are reasons for buying a more modern house. There are os many great things you can do to make your house your home, it will just take a while! =)

  25. Well, we had two older houses that we lovingly fixed up, and then moved into a newer house. Once that new house hit the 10 year mark, everything started breaking. They don’t make anything like they used to, so now we spend most of our house money on replacing air conditioners, dishwashers, ovens, refrigerators, and the list goes on and on. My refrigerator and oven died on the same day! We have a bucket in the living room catching drips from an upstairs plumbing leak, but it’s going to have to wait for the budget to catch up. And this house got great reviews on the inspection when we bought it. I think I liked living in the old houses better — repairs were more staggered, you could trust the quality more, and I didn’t have to work so hard to add character. :) Nevertheless, it’s still home, and I painted the bookshelves in the living room to draw your eye away from the leak-catching bucket. We make the best of it. :)

    • Yep, older houses generally were built better! Fortunately we’ve lived in our house now for four years without anything major going wrong, which was all we had really hoped for! Nothing lasts forever, though, especially in a newer home. I’d move back to an old house again if we could, but for now, we do make the best of our new place and count our blessings to even have a roof over our head! Sorry to hear your plumbing is having issues, that is annoying!!

  26. The appeal of old homes is in their character. Unfortunately a lot of new builds can be quite symmetrical and bland. A house needs character, even if it’s quirky shaped rooms or architectural features, but like you said, its possible to manufacture these things. If you had the money you could even build a new house to look like an old house! :)

  27. I love the charm of older homes, no newer home would ever make me happy, they are so cold and “McMansion yuppike” like. The new home construction today , wiring and plumbing is so shoddy and poorly done that most new home owners end up redoing everything by year 5. If your smart about buying an older home that has been updated you never have a problem. My home was built in early 1940’s, I have been in it for over 20 years and never one problem. It had updated everything done before I moved in, to the plumbing, wiring and such. I love the fact my home has a history in my town, it has reflection of character that new homes never have and such a beautiful attention to detail,wood carved staircases, stained glass everywhere,glass front cabinets, large pane windows, high celings,built in shelving with belved glass , natural wood beams,natural walnut hardwood floors, columns outside that speak to another era, a gorgeous well planned out landscape done by the elderly lady who owned it before with heirloon plants and flowers that thrive today. Its a history, feeling of love and a true home that cannot be matched in a new home. I’ll take my old home any day over a cold cookie cutter tract home.

    • I agree a completely updated older house with character and charm is always my first choice, and would be in much better condition and quality than most new homes! But in our local area we don’t have many of those, unfortunately, so it wasn’t even an option. And even when we lived in Portland if you bought a beautiful older home that was completely updated it would cost you a FORTUNE. So, not everyone has that luxury! Your home sounds like a dream, but for the rest of us not living in our dream home, we’ve got to improvise!

  28. Thanks for the reminder to not settle for the mediocre in our homes (& lives) Melissa. I’m going to do your 40 day home love dare instead of looking for greener grass!

  29. Great post!! Are you going to do a 40 day love dare?? That would be cool. :)

  30. You are so right! Thanks for the important reminder! It’s difficult sometimes living in an apartment that seems so temporary as we save to buy a house of our own. But, that doesn’t mean we can fall in love with it as our HOME, rather than just a temporary living space. There are definitely things we can do to bring a bit of “romance” to our space. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration!!

  31. oldhouselady says

    After building and living in 2 brand new houses, one which I designed, we, on a whim, looked an 1840 brick Italianate and bought it. Next came an 1833 Greek revival in dire need of help to it’s 18 beautiful high ceilinged rooms. We stayed 9 years and said the next had to be older for us to move. This, our home of 7 years, was built in 1762, 251 years old, of brick and stone in the Dutch style. It is amazing, parts like a museum, untouched or changed thru the years, totally comfortable, air conditioned when needed, 3 fireplaces when its cold, and totally one of a kind. So much so that it’s been published nationally. The plumbing is fixed as is the electric. The roof, heating and air are new and it’s decorated comfortably with an electic mix of old and new. It is no different than being in a new house except it has amazing charm and personality! And no, we do not have a lot of money, we’re totally handy and creative! And,,,,, most of all we’d NEVER go back! The older the better!!!!!!

  32. I have always wanted to buy an old historical home, but we chose to live in a newer home, much like yours, Melissa. For all the same reasons as you. We did go through a rather long and arduous and expensive building of a cottage recently. So one day as we were driving through an old character neighborhood and I commented, “oh, wouldn’t it be nice to live in one of these old homes…” my husband responded with, “oh, you can live in one of these old homes…with your NEW husband!”, that pretty much ended the conversation right there!

  33. So inspiring!! As with anyting in life, we often fall into the “grass is always greener” mentality. But learning to love – and SHOW love – to our own homes is such a lovely way to live. And I’m a firm believer that if you love your home, it will love you back.

    For me: I rent a little apartment in Manhattan. It’s not “mine” but…it’s mine. ;) I love it. I nurture it. I take care of it and remind myself of little characteristics that I adore about my little space. I think that sort of attitude creates a sense of peace and comfort. Thanks for the reminder of how important that is!!

  34. Melissa..I love older homes, vintage charm, antiques. Unfortunately, I married a golfer not Bob Villa! We bought a 70’s home with a great open concept 32 years ago and we are still here! It’s home. It is in a great neighborhood with a nice big yard for gardening. We have updated and changed things (several times!) . It has graciously accepted my cottage style. It was a great choice for newlyweds and is still great now that our son is grown and gone out on his own.Do hope do do hardwood at some point.Another supporter of love and be thankful for what you have been blessed with

  35. I just love the 40 day love dare for our house idea!!!!

  36. So true!

    When I sent the link for this to my husband, he asked if you know our life, as we’re in the early stages of gutting our kitchen, but have had to (completely) replace our septic drain field at the same time. $$$$$$$

    Thanks for the dose of reality and humor!

  37. Thank you for this wonderful post! My family is about to embark on our third corporate relocation in an eight year period. I do love house hunting, and I also love looking at “dream” homes. My husband keeps me grounded on the house hunt, and reminds me that though I have a vintage farm house fantasy, it may not gel with everyday reality of suburban family life. We’re hoping to find a home with just enough character, minus the sewer line problems. :)

  38. I love this post, though I to love older home, my sweet hubby has to deal with the work. Sooo after 30years of sweet marriage we build a new home with lots of old character touches, long before was the fashion.. My pantry has an old screen door that I change out for glass in the winter, lots of hardwood and warm colors. I hang drapes in the doorway of my library in the winter as well. I often say a house only becomes the home as we live and breath and give life to it. Thanks for your blog!

  39. I still have a little bit of thing for old houses, but enough experience now that I feel the same way about them as I do about boyfriends who don’t call when they’re supposed to…

  40. Melissa, that’s one thing you and I have def have in common…a love for old houses. Would love one but I’m a little afraid of the “money pit syndrome” striking. I did the same thing you mentioned the last time I bought a car…went with practical and not tingly. I’m still craving tingly. ~~sigh~~

  41. My husband and I are currently in the process of selling our over 100 year old house. I fell in love with this house and i am so sad that we can’t pick it up and move it to the new city we are currently moving to. I agree with you and i am so nervous to purchase a newer home for fear of missing all that wonderful character that older homes have. But like you i know that older homes cost money to update (new electrical, hvac, roof anyone?) so when we finally do find the second home of our dreams i will keep this in mind!

  42. It’s taken me 17 years to fall back in love with my house. I loved it the first time I saw it, but something happened after the first few days here, i didn’t love it anymore. all i could see was a big league makeover and i was overwhelmed. worse yet, i wasn’t interested in doing any of it. my husband did a couple of rooms by himself, top to bottom, even shopped for the furniture and accessories. then it sat and i lived “around” it. recently, god tapped me on the shoulder and showed me all of the wonderful memories and happy family events that have occurred since we’ve lived here. I felt ashamed. i looked around one of the rooms my husband had re-done and it was love at second sight!

  43. If you like old houses, mine is 500 years old (skeletons included under the sitting room floor)
    I do love old houses too.

  44. I love this post! Such a great reminder to love what we have. I actually wrote a love letter to my old house (creaky floors, low water pressure and all)

  45. Thank you for a wonderful post, it was the perfect thing for me to read right now. We bought our first home 5 years ago, and all of my pent up decorating dreams have actualized into rewiring and installing drainage. I have such dreams for my house but not the budget to achieve them, and lately I find myself daydreaming about selling up and buying again. Thank you for telling me to go back and reignite the spark of our original vision!

  46. I am still trying to love our 200 plus year old home. How did we ever buy a house this old with all the fireplaces torn out with barely a sign of one left. When we bought, the yard was overgrown. When we redid the kitchen we uncovered the history of linoleum. And on the list could go on and on. Thanks for all the encouragement Melissa and Ladies. I think I will have a go at 40 day love dare even though it is April!

  47. Hi Melissa! I stumbled across your website today while searching for help in making this house a home. This post speaks right to my heart, right from all of the dreaming of the old home full of character to the practicality of doing what you need to do out of necessity. I have given up on romance many times in the 7 years we have been here. I have painted EVERY wall in the house at least twice and done a little on the renovation side. I am searching for something that will help me with getting this home to a place I love to come back to every day. I have not hung pictures or curtains for fear of it not working. I am really good with someone telling me what looks good and what flows since I do not have an eye for that. When I do something in one room it does not flow through the rest of the house. Just looking for some help.
    Do you know if there is anything like an online designer that can help with this? If someone just told me do this, do this and do this then I can do it, but as far as DIY ideas they are just all over the place. I need something that I can use to flow through the entire house. So glad I found you today and congratulations on 6 years of blogging!

  48. M Brisson says

    I think this blog post came at just the right time. We are experiencing some growing pains after the purchase of our “new” old home. I would love to fall in love with this house but I think it might take some time, money and a little effort on our part. Patience is key. Thanks for reminding me.

  49. It is so important to maintain such a positive attitude. I love that you have decided to make the home into something you love to talk about and come home to. In reality, the biggest chore is making a house become a home that you cherish and love, despite the little outer appearances that may not be up to expectations. Thanks so much for sharing, I love your outlook!

  50. Thank you so much for this post, it is exactly how I have been feeling the last 7 years in my home. I have painted every room at least twice and de cluttered KonMari style, but still no spark. So I am going to try the 40 day challenge, try to think outside the box and see what I can do for my home, instead of the other way around. Thanks so much.

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