west elmOver the past 12 years or so, I've lived in many different places -- about 6 different apartments, and two houses -- and I've learned a thing or two about decorating. It's an art, really; one I, myself, am yet to perfect, but I definitely understand the keys to making your home as comfortable and relaxing as possible.

Perhaps it's the lighting-obsessed, OCD neat freak in me, but I feel fairly confident doling out advice on this subject.

Here are 5 super easy ways to make your home instantly more comfortable.

1. Get your lighting right. I am a freak about lighting. I truly believe that light, or lack there of, affects the overall feel of your home, as well as your mood. In my home, I've opted for drapes -- which are open until the very last bit of sun goes down -- to allow for the brightest possible light during the day. And then at night, when it's time to wind down, I go with lamps, as opposed to overhead lighting. It makes a huge difference.

2. And speaking of lighting ... invest in light fixtures. My husband and I bought our first home this year, and the majority of the house isn't recessed lighting, but fans with lights or ugly fixtures. We've replaced a few of the less attractive light fixtures with ones to our liking, and it's, hands down, one of the things that changed our home the most. Yes, you have to pay for an electrician to do the installation, but there are affordable hanging lights, such as this one from Ikea.

3. Hang shelves. Most people I know don't have enough room in their kitchen cabinets, including us. Hanging shelves in or near your kitchen is the perfect solution, as long gone are the days of needing to store all plates and bowls out of view. This shelf from West Elm is a little pricey, but so, so pretty. Think of how cute it would look with glass jars filled with pasta, rice, and beans!

4. Have a place for your mail. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm pretty OCD about my house, but the one thing that always seems to be lurking around is piles of mail! Bills, catalogs, fliers! There always seems to be a neat pile of papers somewhere near my kitchen that tends to be moved to different spots. Having something -- a box, a file cabinet, one of those wall organizer things -- is the perfect solution to getting rid of paper clutter (ick!) and staying on top of your bills.

5. Only buy what you really want. I've learned the hard way over the years that it doesn't pay to decorate your home out of convenience -- IE, you want to have a rug in your house for a big party you're having. Take your time and save money for the things you really, really want. We moved into our home in May, and we're nowhere remotely close to being finished decorating. But at 8 months in, I'm still in love with every piece that's been careful selected. (Except for the Ikea chairs I bought in haste one day!)

What tips to do you have for making your home feel comfortable?