So, you've finally upgraded your Animal Crossing: New Horizons tent into an actual home. Congratulations! Paying off one debt and jumping right into another is a staple of the Animal Crossing series, and the upgrade to a house adds even more features to the game. One such feature is the Happy Home Academy.
When you've upgraded to a house, the Happy Home Academy (HHA) will reach out to you with a letter congratulating you on the move. By now, the game expects you to have at least a few DIY recipes and furnishings you can use to decorate your place. But interior design is more than just placing random items in open spaces. This is where the HHA steps in; to help evaluate your interior decorating skills.
How the Happy Home Academy judges scores
The HHA uses rankings of S, A, and B to rate your decor. S is the highest rank and B is the lowest. So far, it seems the amount of points you need for each rank depends on how many rooms you've unlocked in the game. The HHA evaluates whether your house is messy, well-arranged, focuses on a theme, or utilizes any feng shui elements in the game. It might sound like a lot to consider while placing your stuff, but don't worry. The HHA isn't a perfect system by any means — some players have expressed confusion over the HHA giving high scores after they've filled a room with the same type of item for storage — but it's still a fun challenge to try if you want to get into the home décor part of the game.
Not to mention you could get a sweet trophy to display in your house.
First, the HHA looks to see if you have the basic furniture necessities: A chair, table, dresser/wardrobe, and bed. They don't have to be placed in the same room if you have multiples, but you can get bonus points if they're in the same room and double the points if they're all from the same set of furniture (such as the Blue or Cabana sets). If you're fairly early in the game and you don't have multiple furniture from the same set, try to have matching colors to help with your scores.
Easy points can be had with wall-mounted decorations, too. Making a nice clock to hang on the wall can give you a little score boost. Don't forget to put up some wallpaper and lay down some flooring as well. Pictures of your fellow villagers can also earn bonus points, so go ahead and hang up that pic of your favorite island resident. (You haven't been hitting them with a net, right?)
Event themes are the easiest way to get the highest rankings from the HHA. This spring's Bunny Day event has provided a number of DIY recipes that you can fill your house with. It might look like a pastel mess, but, hey. If it's good for the HHA, then surely it's good for the rest of us.
Later in the game, when you have access to more materials and furniture sets, you can earn more HHA points by having additional pieces from the same set. You can also arrange your furniture with the game's feng shui mechanic in mind. Basically, you place certain colors of furniture and flowers in specific parts of the room for greater points. Typically, the left half of the room is for yellow items; the right half of the room for red items; and the bottom half of the room for green items. This remains true even as you expand your home. The bottom, green half tends to overlap with the yellow and red sections; if you have items that are both colors, you can gain more points.
If that's too confusing, don't worry; following feng shui isn't likely going to make or break your ranking. It's more of a hidden mechanic of the game that has also played a part in previous Animal Crossing titles. With New Horizons being new, some AC fans are still working out how great of an effect color placement has on your total HHA score.
Mistakes that can cost HHA points
You can also lose points that will drop your HHA ranking or keep you from raising your ranking.
If you have furniture that has a front side, like a couch or dresser, and you've turned it toward the wall, that's another minus. And if your home is infested with cockroaches (which usually only appear if you don't play for a month), the HHA will tank your décor score no matter what.
There are also objects that might not cost points, yet might not give any, either. Items you can display, like shirts, simply don't count for many, or any, points at all.
Getting the HHA's approval is fun, but don't worry if your home is stuck at a B rank. The HHA is just a part of New Horizons you can either go along with or completely ignore with no repercussion. If getting an S rank home with your favorite theme makes you happy, then go for it. If filling your home with insects makes you happy, go for it.
The possibilities are endless, which is the joy of playing Animal Crossing, really.