Design Tips for New Homeowners

So you are the proud owner of your first home!  What’s next?
Well first, congratulations are in order!

Congratulations on your new home! Yay you!

What a wonderful (fun, long, and hopefully fulfilling) journey you are about to begin!  Your home is your 2nd biggest investment, 2nd only to YOU!  Whether you’ve purchased a newly built home,  an existing home, or a project/renovation home, there are some things you should know about decorating it (with a real life new homeowner’s project to demonstrate).

5 design tips for new homeowners:

1.  Your home was not built in a day so it’s okay to not have it fully furnished and decorated overnight.

You have just secured a long term loan on your new place and you’ve probably just dropped a mint on it too.  And although you likely won’t be there 30 years, you will likely be there more than a few.  That gives you plenty of time to buy furniture, collect things, paint and just live life!

Most new homeowners are not ready to drop a mint on decorations & accessories right away. So I suggest starting with core furnishings and your household basics.  Buy key pieces that are necessary for your life and take your time on the rest.  If you don’t already have it, get sturdy & timeless furniture – you don’t want to have to do this again for a very long time.

You can go custom without breaking the bank using online retailers such as West Elm, Joybird, & Pottery Barn – all of whom have eco-friendly options.  Scour furniture store outlets, higher end thrift stores, and model home sales for great finds for less.

Case in point, for her great room, this homeowner purchased a sofa, a couple of tables, and a dining set.  She has everything she needs but still has plenty of room to grow.

 

2.  Take your time to create a curated and lived in space.

Accessories can make or break the feeling of any space.  Once you have your basic necessities, you can live your life and collect things that speak to you.  Art, DIY projects, vintage (flea market, thrift, and garage sale) finds, and anything from your travels or hobbies can help you create a unique and beautiful space.  That’s so much harder to do if every corner is full and every wall covered! Our homeowner initially purchased just what she needed – this way she can add, remove, and adjust as she sees fit.

Accessories make the room. Get your basics, then live life & collect things that speak to you.Click To Tweet

 

 

3.  Decorate (and organize) for how you live, not how anyone thinks you’re “supposed” to.

Trends are only as good as the function they provide and model homes are just that – MODELS.  No one actually lives there – yet.  They are just there to give buyers an idea of how that floor plan can be styled.  They are NOT a hard and fast rule of how the floor plan should be used.

Trends are only as good as the function they provide and model homes are just that - MODELS.Click To Tweet

Model Home Layout

 

Our homeowner started with her core furniture pieces positioned similarly to the model home, which was set up for watching a TV that could be behind closed doors when not in use.  Even the furniture itself is very similar.  But here’s the thing….SHE DOESN’T WATCH TV.

 

Entering home BEFORE

SHE reads (and entertains).  So we changed her space plan to take full advantage of the entire great room and all that wonderful light coming in.  As time goes on, we’ll work toward adding more seating (perhaps in the form of floor pillows or low profile chairs), and more space for reading materials (a console table, maybe a wall shelf or 2).

 

Our Homeowner’s Layout AFTER

4.  Re-imagine what you already have.

You may think you can’t use some of the things already own or that you have to use items you buy for their specified purpose.  Think again.  The mirrored armoire in this great room is from the bedroom set our homeowner purchased as part of her core furnishings.  She didn’t need it in her bedroom, so we used it in the great room for storage.

And accessories!!!! Well those can be painted and altered in ways that give them new life OR the same life lived BETTER!

re-imagine

This homeowner had several art pieces – metal, on canvas, wood – but she wasn’t using any of them.  They were stuck in closets & unused bedrooms.  We pulled them all out and found a home for them.

All in all, we only purchased 2 new items – the scroll above the arch & the “Eat” sign in the kitchen.  She still has plenty of space to add things she loves, but her builder home now looks lived in.

5.  Cut the clutter.

A good purge can do wonders in any space & there’s no better time to do it than after a move. A lot of what you already own will transition to your new home, but some things will not (and should not) make the cut. If those things can’t be re-purposed, don’t keep them around just because. Donate or recycle them. INCLUDING all those boxes you just moved. Hopefully you won’t need those for a good long while so donate them to someone who might or put them out for recycling.

 

6. Start with what you have & love and let that be your guide.

Start by taking inventory of the items you were left with from steps 4 & 5 above.

Then the first 2 things I think about are paint & textiles. Both can bring color & personality into a space quickly, easily, & inexpensively.

Paint is the easiest change to make & there’s nothing to fear but fear itself.  Pay attention to what you like, to the purpose of the space, & lighting – both natural & artificial.  Paint swatches on multiple walls because:

  1. those little paint chips will not help you see the true color effect in a room
  2. if you put the swatch on the wall, you’ll have no choice but to paint (a little trick I use on my color-phobic friends)

Ultimately, it’s just paint; if you hate it, it can be modified or painted again quickly & easily.  Or get a color consultation & get it right from the beginning.

There is nothing scary about painting a room. It's just paint; if you hate it, change it. Or get a color consultation & get it right from the beginning.Click To Tweet

After that, hanging curtains, adding throw pillows, throws, and even an inexpensive natural fiber rug can go a LONG way toward making a house home.  All of these are quick, easy, & inexpensive. And even if you make changes later, they could all be adapted or used in other areas of your home.

Yes, textiles can be pricey.  Curtains in longer lengths (which I always suggest) & in nice materials (like silk or linen) with intricate patterns can definitely be scary expensive.  But check larger home stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and even JC Penney for sales & clearance or discontinued items.  One of the best places to score amazing finds on all things home is IKEA.  While you’re there, pick up some plants – no home should be without them.

 

7. Slow down and enjoy your new home!  Live in it, get to know it, and grow to love it!

Life changes & so will your decor.  You’ll add to it, get rid of things you “outgrow” or no longer love, move things around.  That doesn’t mean you don’t love it.  It means you are living real life in your home.  Every step & every change should be as exciting as the day you bought it.

Life changes, so will your decor. Make every change as exciting as the day you bought your home.Click To Tweet

 

Bonus tip: Hire a decorator to help you bring everything together.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see things any differently than you already do.  Having a decorator you trust can help you visualize and implement changes to things like color, layout, and accessories.  It doesn’t have to be as overwhelming (or as expensive) as you may think!

Hope these tips help those of you who are lucky enough to buy a new home (if not, feel free to contact me for help)!  Or sign up for blog updates below to get tips that can help you along the way.

Enjoy!

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About me

I love food & wine, paint & power tools. I am a creative introvert, programmer turned decorator, wife and mom, & mental health advocate. I am the decorator owner of Xtraordinary by Design. My mission - rid the world of builder beige & furniture sets.

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