That's not a rhetorical question, even if it's kind of melodramatic. I seriously don't know how to create a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere in the physical space of our apartment. Whenever I see pictures of where my friends live, they look like the home of real grownups - there are places for stuff, for people, and they don't conflict. Everything seems so solid, so anchored.
Whereas our apartment feels transient, unmoored, the residence of those who are still becoming, and it's not entirely sure what. I don't know how to arrange furniture so that it coalesces into a useful communal space rather than being a bunch of scattered stuff sitting around.
It probably doesn't help that I grew up in a very traditional house - like, built in 1803 traditional - where there were clearly defined rooms, and now keep living in modern apartments with big (or small) amorphous kitchen-cum-dining-cum-living spaces.
It also probably doesn't help that we don't have that much stuff. We own nothing that the two of us can't easily lift and move between us. (The worst pieces are probably the headboard of the bed and the queen-sized mattress.) That's great for moving and reducing one's carbon footprint, but not always for creating a welcoming space. That said, if the solution is "buy more/nicer furniture" I'm SOL for the moment because we don't really have the money. (Leaving aside the fact that I'm married to someone who didn't even think we should buy two plastic Adirondack chairs from Target, rather than one, because I was the one who wanted to sit on the balcony so why bother with two? It's not that he's at all stingy, it just doesn't occur to him to want these things.)
It probably even more doesn't help that we seem to accumulate piles and piles of little things - a lot of papers, but also just various odds and ends - without having much to put them in. So the clutter is endless. And without much furniture, it sits on the same few surfaces. (Including the floor, which drives me NUTS.)
But I refuse to think that the solution is simply buying more stuff (much as I enjoy buying stuff). So what do you do? How do you make where you live a welcoming place that soothes your soul and into which you can actually bring others? (I never entertain because I don't like how the apartment looks.) Is there some way I can learn how to best arrange furniture for a given space? How do you do it???