Planning to buy and then move into your first home can be very exciting… and at times stressful! Taking on a home design project for the first time is filled with many, many questions. Whether you’re doing it on your own or with family or friends; it tends to be riddled with emotions – excitement, anxiety, happiness, fear, surprise and more. To tackle a lot of the uncertainty, it’s crucial to have a plan in place.

Here are five straightforward tips for decorating your first home:

1. Plan Ahead

Planning for the interior design of your first home must begin before you move in and your decisions must complement your lifestyle choices. Don’t just make observations on how the house currently looks. Consider what you want to change and if the change is feasible. For example,

        • Is the change structural?
        • How much will the modifications cost?
        • When will the work start, who will do it and how does that impact your move date?

Tackling interior design without professional help can be daunting. You may only realize this the moment you stare down a flood of paint color options or when choosing the right furniture for your rooms. Thankfully, the internet and home design shows are full of design inspirations that can make things easier for first-time homeowners.

Don’t rush the planning stage. Develop a concrete image of what you need to work on. This will save you a lot of time later. Create a ‘Task List’ that shows completion dates, who will work on what, the cost… AND sequence the work so you don’t run out of time and money.

2. Commit To Your Budget

classy_kitchenThis can make or break your plan – so, be realistic and prioritize! Don’t let your enthusiasm destroy your budget but don’t let your budget curb your enthusiasm either. Make sure that you set your budget during the planning stage. Adjust accordingly but don’t skimp on important furnishings and fixtures. Beds, couches and major appliances can set you back a bit, but these are investments that can last for years.  Also, be smart about where and what you buy. Make sure you shop around and speak to friends and family for suggestions and their experiences. Oftentimes you can get quality second hand items from referrals; which brings me to the next step…

3. Research & Be Resourceful

Do design rules make you feel restricted? Refer to them as a guide and feel free to express yourself to project your unique style. The limitless design inspirations can be overwhelming. Which is why allowing time to research and plan minimizes the stress. Start to journal your Design Ideas, obtain the floor plan to help you with measurements and take pictures of every aspect and angle of your new home. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll rely on them when making purchasing decisions.

Contractors and handymen will prove to be very knowledgeable and useful. If you don’t already have contacts, speak to people you trust for their picks.  Always check references and ask for details of completed work. Maintaining strong communications is key. For instance, be specific about your expectations, discuss payment method, ask detailed questions about all costs, determine how you want to stay in touch and be consulted along the way.

Finally, if you’re willing and able to take on DIY projects….why not? Again, contact specialists for advice (such as experts at hardware stores). Doing it yourself also connects you deeper with your new home, as your own work and creativity will be embedded into your space.

4. Making Choices

Take stock of what you currently have and what you are not willing to detach from. Over the years, we’ve all collected furniture, décor and other items. Unfortunately, you may have to make some tough decisions about culling your current inventory to make room for a ‘refreshed’ look and feel!

When looking to decorate, highlight the beautiful features of your new home that you fell in love with. It might be the amount of natural light, open plan design or backyard. Reach out to experts at the stores for advice (for example paint, window treatments, landscaping) and go online to see completed work. Learn how to use these inspirations by paying attention to how colors, materials and designs are mixed and matched, positioned and styled. Blend different textures to bring balance to rooms – this could include a wooden bench, glass table top, plants, tiles, wrought iron spindles or crown molding to name a few.

Decide on your furniture and larger items first before purchasing décor. Don’t be afraid to mix and match furniture that did not come in a set. Let your individuality show in your design choices but remember not to over-crowd a room, as it’ll make the room appear smaller. Every room should have a focal point (such as the dining table or chandelier in the entryway). A focal point will not only create visual interest but also draw attention away from less attractive aspects of the room.

After assessing what you currently have and before buying too much, take stock of your new storage capacity, especially if you’re moving from a larger space to one that is more compact. You could also consider popular solutions that include under-the-stairs, under-the-bed storage and multipurpose furniture such as a bench or ottoman with storage. 

A fresh coat of paint can bring life to a room. Remember to bring samples of your furniture’s upholstery fabric or curtains when buying paint. It’s sometimes difficult to visualize color matches. When choosing lighting, curtains and paint colors – always keep in mind the natural light in the rooms.

5. Get Going! step_by_step

Remember…it’s all about you & your dream home!

  • Planning for your new home is a critical step! Rely on your ‘Task List’ to keep yourself on track
  • Be clear about who will help you, how and when – as this saves time and minimizes procrastination. Stay in touch with the experts and your network in case you run into bottlenecks
  • Divide and conquer – this should already be on your ‘Task List’. Prioritize the rooms and areas of focus by starting with high traffic areas (for example the kitchen/dining, master bedroom, bathroom, living room). As every home and lifestyle is different, you’re the best person to determine this
  • Maintain a daily ‘check & update’ routine by aligning it to your calendar and communications with others (such as contractors)
  • Celebrate small wins! AND have a special celebration once it’s all done!

This is an exciting phase of your life and you’re making important decisions about your future. Your home may very well be the nucleus for all your significant relationships and decisions – both in your personal and professional life. Therefore, make sure you take a thoughtful approach to decorating it. Finally, this is a journey that will open the door to other adventures…so own it and enjoy it!

… and if you find yourself stuck, we are here to help you through the process!