No matter how excited you are to move into your new place, your first few weeks will probably feel foreign and, well, a little weird. Celebrating a birthday, planting a garden, or decorating for the holidays will help that “new-house feeling” fade, but waiting for a milestone requires a little too much patience. Here’s how you can feel settled and happy — even while you’re living among boxes.
1. Start with the closet.
“I believe in living well from the moment you move in,” says interior designer Nate Berkus. “Most people start unpacking the common spaces first, but I focus my efforts on my closet because Monday’s are hard enough without having to search for your favorite sweater.”
2. Prioritize the kids’ rooms.
“My son is a collector of previously owned things and especially loves his large assortment of snow globes,” says Nicole Curtis, host of Rehab Addict on HGTV. “I always hand-carry the box of globes with us and then ask the movers to focus on his room first. He will spend the afternoon unpacking his collections and even though the rest of house is in shambles, he’ll be happy and that’s all that matters.”
3. Recreate familiar sounds and sights.
“I’ve had a cuckoo clock for years that sings every 30 minutes,” says Maxwell Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy. “To me the sound of the clock is home, and having it running right away always does the trick.”
4. Wait to hang art.
“I’ve spent many years gathering artwork when I travel and each piece is treasured because it reminds me of a specific place and time,” says Holly Becker, author and founder of the blog Decor8. “I unpack each piece right away and lean them against walls, sideboards, and nightstands so I can still enjoy them until I’ve decided where to install everything.”
5. Mimic your regular routine.
“My husband Bob seems to always lose his wallet and keys in the same spaces,” says designer and author Cortney Novogratz, who recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles with her husband and seven children. “As soon as we moved in, I created a space where everyone could drop their keys, bags, and coats. I even used the same hooks and bins that we used in Manhattan because they work for us. Your routine shouldn’t have to change just because your location does.”
6. Bring out all your favorites.
“For instant coziness, I light candles and play music I love,” says Becker, who always packs iPod speakers, candles, and a lighter in an easy-to-find ‘favorites’ box. “I listen to Lorde, Oh Land, John Mayer and Zaz, and some of my favorite scents are Jo Malone’s Grapefruit candle and Feu de Bois by Diptyque, which smells like a burning fire.”
7. Get comfy.
For blogger Joy Cho, everyday comforts help her feel settled: “The first thing I do when I move in is pull out all my clean bedding,” she says. “Pillows, duvets, sheets, and throws — the works. There is nothing more comforting than sleeping in your old, cozy bed.”
8. Make it smell nice.
“I need my house to have good new smells to make it feel like home,” says Ryan. “Like a cast iron pan that needs seasoning, I break in the space with an expensive steak on the stovetop and favorite bottle of wine. I love the way the heat and the smells ‘season’ my home.”
9. Don’t order pizza.
To Leah Bergman, author of the food blog Freutcake, home is a homemade meal: “I always unpack the kitchen first so I can cook a meal for my husband and I to enjoy,” she says. “Even if we’re living among boxes, eating a simple recipe on the floor; it’s worth it.”