The word home is used to designate a place where an individual or group of individuals live, creating in them a sense of security and calm. In this sense it differs from the concept of home, which simply refers to the physical dwelling. The word home comes from the place where the fire was lit, around which the family gathered for warmth and nourishment. It is also applied to all those residential institutions that seek to create a home environment, for example: retreat homes, foster homes, etc. In demography, the home is conceived as a socio-economic cell which is often used as a statistical unit and is defined in terms of the way people meet their food and other vital needs.
The term home has a curious etymology, derived from the Latin “focus” – “home” (as a place in the house where the fire is prepared) which is later extended to refer to the house itself or the family that lives in it. Of Indo-European root *bha- “to shine” (not to be confused with that also written *bha- “to speak”) related in Greek with φῶς, gene. φωτός (originally φάFος) “fôs, fotós” – “light” and with φαίνω “faino” – “to show, to bring to light”. In the West German you find *bauknan – “lighthouse”, from which the English word “beacon” comes.
In October 2016, World Habitat visited Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Ecuador. As with any UN event, much of the conference was about discussions and plans for a more sustainable future.
At our World Habitat Award exhibition stand, we sought to stimulate engagement and discussion with the thousands of people who participated in the conference. So we decided to get back to basics and talk to the public, housing professionals, government representatives and many people from around the world. We asked them what qualities make a ‘home’.
It is perhaps simple to define a ‘home’ as a physical space where we live and conduct our daily lives. Although houses come in many different forms, the physical character of a house is something that many people see in the same way.
However, the idea of ‘home’ is much more subjective, with which people relate in different ways.
The ideas shared by people at Habitat III got me thinking about our World Habitat Award winners and finalists. These spectacular projects not only provide housing solutions but also ensure that the home is a space of happiness and security.
What really strikes me is that many of our award winners and finalists have worked to create ‘homes’, even when faced with housing problems and difficulties.
Here are five of my favorite answers to the question “what makes a home” from our discussions at Habitat III, and how they relate to the work of some excellent World Habitat Award winners and finalists.
Most of our World Habitat Award winners and finalists are people-focused, with many also being self-build and community-led.
One project that stands out particularly for its strong involvement of people and communities is our 2014 finalist ‘Indigenous Peoples Build Their Homes’ in Mexico.
This project uses a rights-based approach to help low-income families living in three rural municipalities. The communities are supported to build homes using local construction methods, and innovative methods of social finance have made the homes much more affordable to the people in the area compared to other homes in the area.
For many people around the world, the word conflict is an unacceptable part of their daily lives. A home away from conflict can change lives, allowing people to achieve their right to peace and equity.
Nashira, a love song, a women-led project’ in Colombia is a finalist for the 2015 World Habitat Awards. The project works to provide a home for women that brings them peace from both displacement resulting from the country’s civil war and domestic violence. The village provides 88 homes that are both permanent and affordable, giving the women a foundation to begin the next positive chapter of their lives.
Many of our winners and finalists support those who have suffered from various addictions to rehabilitate them and continue their lives in a more positive way.
The 2012 finalist ‘Odyssey Family Housing Units’ in Australia helps parents, including single parents, in the process of rehabilitation after alcohol and drug addiction, and allows them to continue living with their children in a therapeutic community.
For households to be sustainable in the long term, their development must use the skills of local people and local materials. Our 2016-17 ‘One Roof, One Skill, One Market’ winner achieves this through the use of locally available sun-dried mud bricks. Building homes in this way reduces their carbon footprint and reduces local demand for wood, which decreases the amount of trees that are cut down.
Home should be a space where you can be yourself, feel free to do what you want, and an area where you feel accepted. However, for many, home can be a space where greater oppression prevails.
Social Inclusion and Improvement of Living Conditions of Roma in Serbia is a finalist for the World Habitat Awards 2014. This project works to ensure that the Roma community is recognized by state and municipal institutions for home improvement. In circumstances where discrimination against the Roma community is ingrained in daily life, this is an important step in providing safe homes for Roma populations.
There are hundreds of inspiring housing projects around the world, changing lives and providing homes for people. Learn more here.
The idea of ‘home’ is something in which Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur on housing rights, has a particular interest.
On her website she explains:
“Housing is the mainstay of life and human well-being. Home is much more than four walls and a roof. It is a place to live in peace, security and dignity. Although it is increasingly treated as a commodity, housing is a fundamental human right. The right to housing does not mean that everyone has a right to a home provided by the state immediately. It means that governments must ensure that everyone – particularly the most disadvantaged groups – has access to adequate housing. Housing is only adequate if it is affordable, if it has potable water, sanitation facilities, electricity and other basic services, and if it is close to schools, health services and employment opportunities
Leilani is currently talking to people to share their testimonies about what a home and the right to housing means, and you can share your story here.
Aromatic plants, essential oils or citrus fruits are your allies so that your house breathes a pleasant and natural smell. Follow our tricks and breathe clean and healthy air!
Fill it up with water and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Stir before use. You can also use lemon juice: dissolve two tablespoons of bicarbonate in hot water and add half a glass of juice. Let it cool down.
The most common ones consist of a candle that heats a base into which the essential oils are poured. The oil evaporates through the effect of the heat of the candle and diffuses its fragrance throughout the room. Do not leave it lit when you leave the house.
Heat one cup of vinegar, add coarse salt and baking soda and pour into the sink. Let it work for half an hour and rinse with hot water. The sink will smell better and you will also unblock the pipes. If these give off bad smells, pour hot water in which you have boiled citrus peels.
Cut the lavender before its flowers wither. Tie up the stems and hang upside down in a dry, dark place for a month.
Cedar wood has a pleasant aroma and is also able to neutralize bad odors inside the closet. That is why many firms make their cabinets from cedar. An alternative is to put bags with little balls or sticks of cedar inside.
Choose woven fabrics, such as linens or organza, to let the fragrances “pass through”. Stuff them and tie them with string. Use them in drawers and cupboards.
When you want a room to smell good, put a pan of water to boil, over a low heat, with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. When it boils, remove it and place the mixture in a glass container in the room you want to aromatize. Other express tricks? Make toast or prepare coffee: they neutralize bad smells.
A clean house is essential to achieve a pleasant environment. The solution is not to “cover” the bad smells with chemical air fresheners, it is necessary to clean and renew the interior air.
Ventilate daily With 10 minutes is enough to air the house. If you can create a better cross ventilation.
Homemade tricks like cleaning the floor with hot water and lemon make your house smell better. To spread the aroma of natural air fresheners throughout the house, place them next to the windows: the current will circulate them.
It is very pleasant to notice a fresh and delicate aroma when entering the house.
No bad smells Place a container with vinegar where it cannot be seen: it will absorb bad smells from the hall.
Choose natural and fresh smells from preferably natural air fresheners – lavender, pine – that are not cloying.
It is one of the most effective and decorative ways to enjoy a pleasant smell. Choose fragrant flowers like daffodils, roses, jasmine or gardenias.
With dry flowers Make centers with pots and put a few drops of essence when you notice they have lost their aroma.
Textiles absorb bad odors. Sprinkle bicarbonate on the carpets and let it work all night before vacuuming. Wash the curtains often and hang them up a little damp so that they give off the smell of fabric softener.
With steam, faster Use the steamer to remove wrinkles from the curtains and, in the process, the bad smell from the curtains without having to take them down.
Decorate the kitchen with some aromatic pots (thyme, basil …). Touch them from time to time while cooking to spread their aroma.
If you are going to fry, put a slice of apple or a lemon peel in the oil and remove them when they turn black. Scrub the pans when you finish cooking.
A good trick for when you cook foods with a lot of smell is to boil water with vinegar in a pan and add citrus peels. It is also effective to prepare some coffee: its aroma is more powerful than the other smells.
Lemon multipurpose Its peels, inside a bowl with hot water, eliminate the odors of the oven and the microwave.
Clean it every three months in the fridge with a cloth impregnated with vinegar and it will not have unpleasant smells. When it smells like food, leave a halved orange or a bowl of bicarbonate inside.
The dishwasher rinses the dishes well before placing them. When you notice unpleasant smells, do a vacuum wash with vinegar and a little bicarbonate.
❶ Of lavender
It has soothing properties and also promotes sleep. That is why it is advisable to have it in a spray on the bedside table and to spray the pillow before going to sleep.
❷ Lime or lemon
They are citrus fruits that purify the air, lift the spirits and give joy. Therefore, they are recommended for moments of apathy and discouragement.
Its refreshing aroma helps you breathe and promotes memory. Use its oil in work areas or when you want to concentrate.
❹ Of patchouli
It gives energy to body and mind. Relieves stress and tension. Its aroma, a little bit special, does not please everyone.
❺ Of rosemary
Its essential oil is effective in treating fatigue and mental exhaustion. Its wild and fresh smell is indicated throughout the house.
Ventilate the room in the morning for at least 10 minutes and air the mattress daily.
With your perfume a few drops on the pillow will help you rest better. You can also put them on the bulbs of the lamps: when you turn them on, the heat will extend their fragrance.
Fresh scent Place a softener-impregnated towel in a container in a discreet corner of the bedroom. You can also impregnate cotton balls with essential oils, vanilla extract…
Don’t keep the clothes unwashed or unventilated as they leave their smell in the closet and are preferred by moths.
Lavender flowers, inside bags, are the best choice in closets and drawers: with a pleasant fragrance, they are effective against moths.
Put soap bars between the linen. Inside their wrapping, they do not dirty it and give it a pleasant aroma. In the drawers you can also put scented stones or wood that are sold in bags.
Dry your apples in the sun and put them inside bags in the closet with cinnamon sticks.
With aromatic Lavender, thyme, rosemary, mint… A sprig of any aromatic inside the cupboard will make it smell good.
For shoes, avoid its smell with a little bicarbonate. Sprinkle it inside and let it act for a few days before shaking it.
Always keep them dry and perfectly clean inside boxes with the anti-dampness bags that come in the box when you buy them.
A container with chalk, rice or charcoal absorbs moisture and bad odors in the bathroom.
The pipes can smell bad if the house has been closed for a while. If so, let the water run for a few minutes.
Dry the towels well before storing them, so that they do not smell musty, and leave them spread out after each use. Change them every week and use vinegar as a softener; they will be softer.
Fragrant soaps such as sandalwood naturally aromatize the bathroom. You can also light aromatic candles when you take a bath.
Place in a bowl a gauze or cotton impregnated with vanilla essence. If you want to keep it, add a few drops every 6 hours.
Boil three pine branches, two laurel leaves and a nutmeg. For the aroma to remain for a while, you must boil it over a low heat. Freeze the mixture and use it again another day.
Cut an orange in half, empty it and fill the inside of each half with coarse salt or silica pearls. Place it in a container so that it does not spill.
❹ Of rosemary
Boil rosemary leaves for one hour accompanied by lemon slices. Add a few drops of vanilla essence, to taste. Until it cools down it will aromatize your home. You can use the mixture for two days.
❺ Dried flowers
Cut into large pieces rose petals, bay leaves and eucalyptus, thyme, sage … Mix them well and use them in bags. When the fragrance weakens, add a few drops of alcohol or rose essence.
Let’s be honest, we all love it when our house smells good. And for that, without a doubt the best option is to have a good air freshener that provides us with freshness, and a good fragrance throughout the house. We bring you the best options to air freshen your house.
At the time of choosing air freshener for house, there are many options and many different fragrances, that if a diffuser of essential oils, that if an automatic air freshener, or even aromatic candles, are options that we found in the market to make of our home, a pleasant and fresh space.
What better sensation is there than to arrive home after a hard day and find yourself in a clean, appetizing and smelling good environment? That’s why we bring you the keys and the differences between the different types and ways of perfuming your home, there is something for everyone!
This is perhaps our favourite way of creating a good smell in the house, because it is the most natural, subtle and effective way of creating a good smell in the house.
The essential oil diffuser is a humidifier, to which we only have to include water and a few drops of essential oils of our favorite fragrance, and activate the apparatus.
In this way the whole room where the diffuser is located will be quickly flooded with the aroma and a sensation of super pleasant freshness.
The best thing? That it is super silent and that it can last up to 10 hours in a row.
+ essential oil pack
And also, so that you always have the fragrances at hand, you can get this pack of essential oils. It includes 12 bottles of oils with different aromas, among them: lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, incense, cinnamon or lemon, among others.
They are 100% natural and pure, especially for humidifiers.
Mikado type air fresheners are one of the most famous, because aesthetically they look good in a corner of the house, on a shelf or a table, and are perfect for the bathroom. In addition, they are very fragrant and last approximately 3 months.
You only have to introduce the sticks in the bottle, and let the aroma flood your room.
A trick? If you feel it’s starting to wear off, just flip the rods over and voilà!
You also have plenty of fragrances available, for all tastes. We have chosen the aroma of red fruits, but we have also been captivated by two others:
Green tea and lime mikado air freshener (available at Amazon for 9 ?)
Lavender mikado air freshener Ambientair (available at Amazon for 13,90 ?)
Also, if you want a more sophisticated one…
You have this Betres On fresh rose air freshener, with a beautiful design for your home, which all your guests will be fascinated to see.
It is made with natural essential oils and its effectiveness ensures 4 weeks of long-lasting fragrance at home. It also has a great quality/price ratio.
RITUALS The Ritual of Dao Large
The Ritual of Dao line is specially designed to take care of your Yin energy, helping you to restore peace and tranquility to your busy daily life. This air freshener is very durable, has a subtle perfume that will fill your home without recharging.
If you have any space in your house or car that doesn’t smell too good or that has a lot of humidity (damp drawers, the shoe rack, the cat’s sandbox room, the storage room, etc) what you need is an odor neutralizer, instead of a fragrance air freshener itself, which will only mix the good smell with the bad.
For that, comes this wonderful cushion that we assure you that works (you only have to read the comments of the users) and that will eliminate completely any trace of bad smell, and in addition to that, since it has the shape of a cushion, you can place it anywhere without bothering aesthetically.
Spray air fresheners became very fashionable some time ago, because the advantage of them is that you can program how often you want the spray to trigger the fragrance (3 different modes).
It is important that you take into account that the spray must be placed in a high furniture such as a shelf, so that the shot comes to atmosphere the room.
This one we have chosen has an aroma called “summer delights” that subtly changes its fragrance with every shot, with a mixture between jasmine, mango and vanilla.
If you are a fan of candles, then your best option is to get a pack of scented candles like these, which bring fragrance with combustion.
Aesthetically they look great, and these we have selected have a nice and elegant design so you can place them around the house. Keep in mind that scented candles also neutralize bad odors, and some fragrances like these serve as an anti-stress method.
This pack has four candles, with scents of lavender, roses, tea tree and mint.
Our secrets… in the open! Discover the tricks, ideas and tips for decorating El Mueble’s houses.
It is a safe bet to give it color and character with details. Bet on walls and sofas of light tones and leave for the cushions, paintings, carpets and small accessories the notes of color to highlight and give personality. In addition, they are the easiest (and cheapest) to renew according to the trends.
And also of space. Because a room with a symmetrical distribution of furniture, like this one, will always look visually more ordered and spacious than one in disorder.
We like personal tables, but also tidy. That’s why it’s always better to have two large objects that understand each other than many small pieces. This way, you avoid a confusing and messy result. Some photography or art books that you like to look at, a natural bouquet or trays where you can group the different objects are a good idea.
Or the seats. They are a practical resource, to protect the sofa, as well as decorative, especially if you bet on natural fabrics. Linen is one of our star fabrics for making covers, because it has movement, weight, is very natural and, despite its wrinkles, is elegant.
Neither few nor many. Ideally, you should put one more than the seats on the couch. That is to say, if the sofa is three, four cushions will be enough.
A plaid or a blanket in winter will help you to give more movement to the sofa and, if it is very straight-lined, to reduce its rigidity. Place them informally on the armrest and the living room will look more alive and welcoming.
Look at it: there are never any shortages in our homes. Baskets are not only very practical for storing sofa cushions, blankets or plaids, or even the magazines we are looking at, but they are also decorative in themselves.
To do this you must breathe. How? By combining books with objects that give air (a photo, a plant…). But without overdoing it, because 60% of the space in the bookstore should be occupied by books. 30% should be empty. And the remaining 10% can be decorative objects.
In the living room, creating three points of green, either plant or flower, is key. For example, on the side table, the coffee table and the mantelpiece. However, they must have a connection, like the same flower or sharing colors.
Almoneda or recovered pieces, like this coffee table, give character to any environment, making it more alive and personal. If you are good at crafts, you can also tune them yourself.
In El Mueble we like the curtains to rest on the floor, that’s why we always add about 10 cm more to the length. And one trick: if you are afraid that the fabric will shrink after the first wash, add about 5 cm more to the length “just in case”.
To make the windows look taller than they really are, simply place the curtain rod as close to the ceiling as possible and not just where the window profiles end. Not only will you give more height to the room, but it will also look wider!
They are a must in a furniture house. Hanging, on a piece of furniture or even supported on the floor. In the latter case, as they are slightly inclined, the mirror will reflect part of the ceiling and the space will look wider. It is a good trick for the wall at the end of a corridor, the entrance or the dressing room.
This is what El Mueble’s houses are like: lively, personal, cozy, with DIY details… A piece of furniture recovered, a composition of photos, memories of trips or family outings… Your home is your refuge and you should feel completely at ease in it. Don’t be afraid to express yourself through decoration, on the contrary! Make use of it.
They can’t be missing from a furniture house. Not only do they create a more welcoming and intimate atmosphere, but they also highlight areas that went unnoticed. If you choose them with aroma, you will also perfume the house. A very decorative trick is to place lanterns with candles along the corridor -one every meter- and light them in the afternoon. You will see how the space transforms.
They are a classic in a very El Mueble house. Not only do they decorate by themselves and make a space more welcoming, but they are also good natural sound insulators, and guarantee a more comfortable footprint. In addition, they contribute to delimit spaces, as it demonstrates hall with dining room, in which each atmosphere has been delimited with a carpet.
And they better be pretty, so that everything looks visually ordered. You can cover them with thick gift paper, so that they can support the wear and tear better, and the studio looks like another one. A cheerful print paper (flowers, paintings, moles…) will give you a more youthful touch and one in pastel shades, more serene and feminine.
Three is a magic number in decoration. Make trios of objects and they will work for you for sure.
We love them and in a furnishing house they can’t be missing. If you bet on the seasonal will be cheaper. A tip: if the flowers are small, you can use cups and glasses of different heights as vases. It is better if they are made of transparent glass, because this way the water’s shine stands out more and it gives more sensation of freshness.
In El Mueble we like lived-in houses, which change and adapt according to the needs and tastes of those who live in them. And why not, that are permeable to the seasons, with small changes that make them more welcoming and secluded in winter and cooler and more cheerful in summer. With a simple change of cushions and textiles in the living room, for example, you can have a new living room for very little money.
Choose it with presence. It’s amazing how a dining room changes when you put a good lamp in it. It has to have a strong volume, proportionate to that of the table so that it doesn’t look either exaggerated or too small. Materials such as linen, paper or natural fibers are precious when light passes through them. Glass, like this lamp, creates attractive effects and reflections.
For special occasions, at El Mueble we love to use a raw or white linen tablecloth up to the feet. You can add a tablecloth or placemats to give a touch of color. Think that by covering the whole table, it becomes more rounded, the corners disappear and you sweeten its appearance.
Personalize your celebrations with creative details: make individual ones with paper, original napkin rings with fabrics or ribbons, put your guests’ names on handmade labels, put a centerpiece with a cut flower… The possibilities are almost endless. The most important thing is that whatever you do, the table reflects the love you have given it.
The kitchen can sometimes sin of cold, for the steel of the appliances, a hegemony of white… An easy and very effective way to make the most welcoming and warm is with textiles, such as kitchen towels, or by splashing it with green dots. In this sense, aromatic plants are a very good option.
If you have shelves in the kitchen, take the opportunity to display some special dishes, insert some cookbooks if cooking is one of your hobbies, put a jar with cookies… These are details that will make the kitchen look more alive.
For the basics, like the sheets or the duvet cover, white or soft colors are always a good choice, since they give a sensation of freshness and transmit a feeling of relaxation. In addition, they are the perfect canvas to give color to the bed with the accessories, either with the quadrants as the blankets or plaids.
To make the bed more voluminous and mobile, and more appetizing and tasty, it combines cushions of different sizes and textures. You can use the cushions to give more warmth or freshness to the bed: velvet in winter, linen in summer. And dare to mix plain and printed.
Pill soaps are a doubly useful resource. Place them in transparent bowls to decorate with their different colors and shapes and, at the same time, to aromatize the bath.
It is a way to give aesthetic unity to the bathroom, since you avoid having boats of different brands and sizes, which would give more sense of disorder.
If the towels in the bathroom must be visible, turn them into decorative assets. Keep them rolled up, like rollers, and opt for smooth designs in different colors. Another option is to combine terry towels with other linen ones.