While picking out items for your home in Animal Crossing: New Horizons might seem serene on the surface, bubbling underneath is a prescriptive force – the Happy Home Academy (HHA) – ready and waiting to judge your efforts and dish out points based on style, placement, and Feng Shui.
Happily for us though, acing these tests doesn’t just net the satisfaction of a job well done – but rewards as well. There are B, A, and S ranks to gather, which get more difficult to obtain as you continue to upgrade your house – while you can collect bronze, silver and gold tiers of HHA rewards.
While there’s a lot of nerdy minutiae you can dig into if you want to max out your score, we’ll try and keep everything as clear and actionable as possible. If you stick to a few simple tenets, getting enough points for an S rank isn’t actually that difficult.
With that said though, the HHA Gold Trophy can be quite elusive, and you’ll probably need a fully upgraded house before you can stuff your abode with enough decorations to acquire it.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Academy guide – the basics
Before we get into the real nitty gritty of maxing out your HHA rank, here’s a simple checklist if you’re just trying to stick to best practices and hit a regular S rank.
These general rules will keep your score high and the Home Academy inspectors happy. Many have them have been in previous Animal Crossing games, as well as New Horizons:
- Don’t be afraid to use a lot of furniture items – you get points for each one. But don’t feel like you need to fill every single tile
- Use furniture pieces from the same set to get set bonuses – eg. Wooden-block table and chair -if you can fit all of the items from one set in the same room, then that’s extra good
- Try to stick to items that are the same color within one room
- Designate side rooms for a specific purpose, like a kitchen or bathroom, to match similar items like sinks and toilets
- Decorate the walls and floor with rugs and wallpaper from Saharah
- HHA Rewards seem to give you a lot of points if you hang them up/put them on a table
- Use seasonal items – like Bunny Day furniture – for easy sets
- Don’t leave furniture items with an obvious front – like a sofa – facing the wall
- Don’t let trash items like old tires, boots, and tin cans litter your floor
- Don’t leave your house unattended for more than a month, or you’ll get cockroaches!
Most of those ideas are easy to follow without knowing the exact science behind their working. To get a good HHA S Rank, you just need to have a well put together house that tries to keep its theme consistent, without having too few pieces of furniture.
Keeping all of this in mind when you design your house will probably land you at least an A rank, maybe even an S depending on the size of your house. The official Animal Crossing: New Horizons Companion Guide (linked) – which is a beautiful and helpful resource that you should definitely look into getting hold of – reports the thresholds for B, A, and S ranks for each size of house, as the following:
|House Size:||Points needed for S rank||Points needed for A rank||Points needed for B rank|
|House with 1 extra room on the back||35,000||25,000-34,999||0-24,999|
|House with extra room on back and to the left||47,000||38,000-46,999||0-37,999|
|House with extra rooms on the back, left, and right||60,000||50,000-59,000||0-49,000|
|House with a second floor||75,000||64,000-74,999||0-63,999|
|House with a second floor and basement||90,000||80,000-89,999||0-79,000|
This information comes directly from Animal Crossing: New Horizons files, so you can count on its accuracy – at least in the vanilla release of the game.
So while you can’t go too far wrong with the checklist above, it might not nab you that coveted golden trophy. The official companion guide also reports the bands for the HHA plaques and trophies as the following:
- Gold HHA Trophy – 150,000 points
- SIlver HHA Trophy – 100,000 points
- Bronze HHA Trophy – 70,000 points
- Gold HHA Plaque – 50,000 points
- Silver HHA Plaque – 30,000 points
- Bronze HHA Plaque – 20,000 points
- HHA Pennant – 10,000 points
To net those 150,000 points, you’re going to have to bring out the big guns.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons HHA guide – Bonuses
To maximise your HHA score, you need to incorporate specific bonuses into your interior design. Some of these we’ve already mentioned, but some aren’t as obvious.
It’d be very difficult to get all of them into every one of your rooms, so don’t get hung up on doing everything exactly right.
Again according to the official companion, there are 9 types of bonuses you can apply to your score:
- Complete Set Bonus:
As we said before, if you can manage to fit the entirety of a furniture set into a room, this will net a big bonus for your HHA score.
- Theme Bonus:
Themes are similar to sets, but give bonuses for items which are made out of similar materials rather than being exactly the same. For example, the DIY cherry speakers and pear wardrobe aren’t from the same set but both fit a “fruit” theme. This also goes for items which use flowers in a “flowers” theme and so on.
- Type Bonus:
You receive this bonus for having all of the basic types of items which serve a purpose and you can interact with inside your house. This includes a bed where you can sleep, a chair to sit on, a table to put things on, and a wardrobe to change your clothes.
- Category Bonus:
The Category Bonus rewards you for having a varied assortment of furniture in a room. Essentially, things like potted plants, musical instruments, and clocks are all different categories of items, and the more categories you add to a room the greater the bonus.
- Seasonal and Lucky Item Bonus:
Check the Seasonal tab of your DIY registry on your NookPhone to see which items are currently in. If there’s an in-game event happening, then you’ll get a bonus for that too. Lucky items are usually made of gold – like the giant robot hero you make out of rusted parts – also give you a bonus.
- Interior Design Bonus:
The Interior Design Bonus rewards you for creating vibrant rooms with lots of items. To receive it, you need to have more than 20 unique furniture items in a room, with at least 3 things hanging from the wall.
- Situation Bonus:
Again like we mentioned earlier it can be good to give rooms a designated use, so it’s easier to group similar items together for a Situation Bonus. While some are more obvious, like bathroom, living room, and musical items. Others – like spooky items, fitness equipment, expensive, and space-styled items – are very similar to the Theme Bonus. Just remember to keep your thread consistent.
- Color Bonus:
The more items of a particular color you can cram into a room give you a cumulative, coordinated bonus!
- Feng Shui Bonus:
Also concerned with color, Feng Shui has long been part of Animal Crossing design. To satisfy this bonus, you need to put certain colored items in specific places around a room. We’ll cover exactly where below.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Feng Shui – how does it work?
Just like in Animal Crossing games of the past, in New Horizons the principles of Feng Shui dictate that you should:
- Place green items at the bottom of a room
- Place yellow items on the left hand side of a room
- Place red items on the right hand side of a room
- Leave some space in the middle clear
This includes the wall space on those three walls. So you should hang green items on the bottom wall, yellow items on the left wall, and red items on the right wall.
You get extra points if the entire section of the room only contains the right color of item, but the bonus isn’t that high – so Feng Shui is really only for master designers.
The most important bonuses are probably Set and Theme since they give the biggest point scores with comparatively little effort.
To get enough bells to buy and craft all of this furniture, you’ll need to get foraging! Here are our lists of all of the bug prices, and all of the fish prices in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.