By CATHI AYCOCK
A 1960s ranch-style home can have it. A million dollar mansion might not. Even a tiny apartment, decorated on a tiny budget, can have it.
Ambiance, that nearly undefinable attribute that gives your home a feeling of beauty, comfort, and charm, is not about how big your house is. Some of the most comfortable and welcoming homes are filled with ambiance. So much so, you forget to notice if the floors are hardwood, the counter tops granite, and the furniture high end.
We give you the five elements that anyone can add to their space to create ambiance for the home — no matter the budget.
Take a look at your favorite home decor magazine. Yes, wide angle lens and perfect lighting make nearly every room look amazing. But the one element that every photo will also include? Plants and/or flowers, the epitome of living things in your living space.
Some of my favorite plants include hardy succulents to add a touch of modern-vibe greenery or maidenhair ferns for an airy, romantic feel.
While fresh flowers may seem like a splurge, a bouquet of flowers can be broken up into several bouquets and sprinkled throughout the house. Since grocery store bouquets average around 10 bucks, you can have three vases of beauty for the cost of a fast food meal.
Scent of home
Ambiance is about engaging all the senses, and nothing can give your home ambiance, or take it away, like scent. Even a beautiful home will lack ambiance if you smell yesterday’s fish.
Beyond basic cleanliness, a subtle fragrance, via candles or a fragrance diffuser, is a wonderful (and inexpensive) ambiance booster.
I adore candles and have different scents for different seasons of the year and different areas of my home. But I am equally obsessed with the new fragrance diffusers that are hitting the market.
These diffusers emit a subtle fragrance that covers a larger area than candles. Basically, a magic little box that you pop in a fragrance pod, you push a button and the aroma is released at regular intervals. (Especially nice if you don’t have time for a candle to scent your home before guests arrive.)
Whatever method you use, adding a subtle scent to your home ups the ambiance and gives your home sensory luxury for pennies on the dollar.
Pottery Barn understands tactile trends like no other retailer. In the spring, they home decor and lifestyle retailer offers linen pillows and lightweight throws. For fall, they roll out velvet pillows and chunky knit blankets and throws. Winter, and sherpa lined blankets and wool pillows, fill the shelves.
Adding elements that are touchy-feely, the true definition of tactile, create ambiance in your home. Add a linen runner to your kitchen table in spring. A gossamer-thin throw for your sofa. And when fall comes, add velvet pillows and chunky, knit throws in the den, and a vintage, crewel tablecloth to your kitchen table.
These change-with-the-seasons elements, that look and feel inviting, are perfect for adding ambiance.
And if Pottery Barn prices are beyond your budget for seasonal updates? Look at Home Goods or other discount retailers and find the look for less.
Have you ever attended a live performance and felt the thrill of having the lights dim as the show begins? A dimmer switch can give the same drama to your home, especially your dining space or family room.
When evening comes, overhead lighting can seem harsh. Who needs to see every scuff mark on the wall or faded patch on the sofa when soft lighting adds so much more romance, yes?
Welcome to my home
The fifth element that creates ambiance is possibly the most important. And though it is wildly inexpensive, many times it is sorely missing.
No accessory, furniture, or luxe design can compete with a home that is genuinely welcoming. Welcoming guests, and giving yourself permission to be enveloped in the ambiance you create in your home, is an art.
How many times have you been invited to someone’s home and they constantly apologize for the flaws. (That, until they were pointed out, you never noticed?)
Or, you are a guest in a home that is so perfect that you can feel the homeowner flinching if you move a coaster a smidge off center.
Allow your home to be lived in, with a few ambiance inducing elements, and welcome guests with the focus on a comfortable, warm experience.