Joanna Simmons, Houzz Contributor
Moving into a new house is so much more than simply relocating to a different place. When we leave behind a home, especially one we’ve lived in for a long time, we also leave behind all those years spent enjoying it. Children who were tiny when you moved in have grown into strapping teenagers under its roof. Friends have visited, meals have been shared, and the small dramas of everyday life have been played out in it, so it can be emotional to walk away.
Settling into a new home that carries traces of its previous owners also can take time. So in the rush and chaos of moving, take time to celebrate the home you’re leaving and get set to enjoy the place you’re moving into with these tips for easing the transition.
How to Say Goodbye to Your Old Home
Take photos of it. Before everything is swept up into moving boxes, take photos of your home. Document each room, so you can revisit it later. If you have children, snap pictures of them, too, enjoying the house as usual: drawing at the kitchen table, playing in the garden, chilling in front of the TV. You are aiming to capture an emotional record of your house, as well as images of its beautiful kitchen or big windows.
Snap it messy! Take pictures of your home on a typical day, when it’s not clean and tidy. This will provide a more meaningful record of your house and how you used it. You could arrange all these images in an album, with the address and the dates you lived there on the front. This will serve as a lovely record of your time there, but also as a realistic account. If you have mixed feelings about moving on, honest images of all the good and bad elements of your last place may help you feel more positive about your new home.
Leave your mark. Why not leave a little something of yourself behind before you move out? No, that does not mean a sink full of unwashed coffee mugs! Try something subtler. You could go for the classic time capsule, hidden in the attic. Or write a letter to the new owners, welcoming them to the house and explaining what you loved about it. You could even sign your name somewhere and date it, perhaps on the ceiling inside a cupboard or on the rafters in the attic.
Hold a goodbye party. Celebrate your home and the life it has given you with a goodbye party. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already started to pack — your guests can happily negotiate a few boxes. String up some lights, play some music and enjoy the house with the family and friends you’ve shared it with over the years.
Toast your home. Raise a glass to your home, perhaps during your goodbye party or simply with your family. Moving is stressful and busy, but it’s important to pause, look around and say, “Cheers!”
How to Settle Into Your New Home
Clean up. When you arrive in a new home, nothing looks, feels or even smells the same way, which can be unsettling. So start by cleaning surfaces, floors and inside cupboards with some familiar, fresh-scented products to help make the place feel like yours.
Get fresh. Fling open the windows on the first day, too, to air out the rooms and freshen up the whole house. In the evening, light a few scented candles.
Grab a few goodies. Piles of moving boxes and empty rooms do not help a house feel like a home, so treat yourself and your new place to a few goodies that will make it feel special. Arrange some fresh flowers, bought at the store on the way to the house or picked from the garden, or buy quality hand soap or a few new towels. When you are facing days of unpacking chaos, these little touches can really cheer you up.
Don’t forget the pets! Dogs and cats may also take a while to settle into a new home, so try to ease the transition for them, too. When you arrive at your new home, shut the cat in a single room for safety, with water, the litter tray and its bed. You can let your cat out at the end of the day to explore, but confine it to a few rooms so it doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Cats should be kept inside the house for a week or so to prevent them from trying to return to your old home.
Do right by your dog. You should introduce your dog to the new house. Keep your dog on a leash and take it around the key rooms, one at a time, allowing it to sniff and explore, but under your supervision. You wouldn’t expect guests to run all over the house, upstairs and down, the moment they arrived, so don’t let your dog. Point out where its bed is and even keep upper floors out of bounds at first, so it doesn’t feel overwhelmed by its new territory.
Personalize the place. Paint a wall, hang photos or buy some new blinds. Even if the rest of the redecorating will take months, a few small tweaks can really help you start to stamp your personality on your new home.
Host a housewarming. Sharing your new home with family and friends can help you bond with it, so host a party — no gifts required. You might like to invite new neighbors, too, as a good chance to get to know them, or simply keep it small and intimate.