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How To Decorate Your First House

by Craig Barrett
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When you’re a first-time home buyer, a lot of it can feel like a challenge. 

You might find yourself stuck in between all the paperwork and running around town trying to choose the perfect fit for you – young couples, families, and even solo buyers alike know the struggle.

However, once you’ve successfully accomplished all of that, you are faced with yet another situation: decorating your new home! There’s definitely a lot of pressure to make everything look perfect, but in this article, we’ll get you through the basics so you can cut out the stress and enjoy your time turning your house into a home.

Here at REX, we truly care about our clients and we walk them through the whole process— even moving day! Here are our best tips to guarantee a smooth interior design process:

Get rid of the clutter

Moving day is all about change and looking forward to new things! Especially if you are a first-time home buyer, owning a home is an exciting milestone. You may be eager to pack up everything into boxes and move right away. However, that can easily turn this incredible experience into a nightmare if you don’t prepare.

Getting rid of things that you don’t use and any clutter in your old place will make the whole moving process easier for you. 

  • Don’t do it last minute. Give yourself time to go through everything you own without any rush. You deserve a moment to decide what stays and what doesn’t.
  • Use the three boxes rule. For each room you de-clutter, make sure you have three boxes with you: (1) one for the things you’ll keep, (2) one for the things you’ll donate, and (3) one for the things that you’ll throw away. This helps keep you organized and will help you go faster.
  • Be practical about it. If you haven’t worn certain clothes in over a year, you probably won’t wear them again. If you have four bed sheets, you could donate at least two. Be mindful about the things you actually need– this might sound cliché, but less is always more. 
  • Donate as much as you can. After you have a good sense of the things you own that are in good shape but don’t offer any use to you anymore, check local organizations that accept donations. By doing this, you’re getting a fresh start with things that matter to you and also helping others in need.

Gather inspiration.

Decorating is a lot like painting a blank canvas at first— you have all these colors, tools, and ideas and it can be so hard to put them together. Sometimes, you come up with something you thought would be incredible, only to realize that it looks out of place and doesn’t make sense.

For newbies, this can be even more confusing. To avoid all of this frustration, make sure you have a vision in mind before you start designing your interiors.

Now, how exactly do you do that? Simple: Picture your dream house. What does it look like? Is it colorful? Fancy? Minimalistic? Take some time to think about this. Here are some great ways to gather inspiration before decorating your house:

  • Create a Pinterest board. This is an obvious one— almost everyone goes on Pinterest for inspiration. You can find amazing pictures and read a lot on other people’s experiences decorating their first house. We can guarantee it will get your creative juices flowing!
  • Read a few architecture magazines. We know it might sound boring, but we promise you that it isn’t. If you don’t have the time to read every article, skim through a few and look at the pictures to give you a good line of thought. We love Dwell to get tons of ideas.
  • Write it down. Think about what you actually want your house to look like and take notes on it – colors, furniture, floors, etc. Showing them to others (or an interior designer, if you have the budget) is also a good idea.

Overall, make sure you know what each room should look like – you don’t have to set it in stone, but having a guide will be amazing help.

You also don’t have to decorate or shop for everything at once! This is supposed to be fun, not stressful.

Make it personal.

Your home can say a lot about you – put your personality into how you decorate and style your home by adding details that you identify with and love.

You can give a personal, intimate feeling to your home with these tips:

  • Photographs. Portraits of your family, friends, and pets will automatically give your house some heart and show that someone lives there.
  • Art. If you’re an artist, consider hanging around some of your own work – even if it’s not professional! If not, decorate with paintings and pieces that you love or find beauty in to add character to your home.
  • DIY items. The list of decorations that you can create yourself and use to give a room more personality are endless! Check out this list and find the perfect fit for your preferences – and abilities, of course.
  • Book shelves. Books can say a lot about us, and book shelves won’t only fill up space, but can give your house a cozy vibe and showcase your favorite stories.

Add layers to your rooms.

When we talk about adding layers, we’re talking about adding comfort and texture, and making your home look warmer. Layers can help bring any space to life.

However, you must keep this in mind: we want to add layers, not clutter. Don’t bring in unnecessary items just to fill up space or you’ll end up with a whole lot of junk that looks out of place. 

Layers are meant to be a finishing touch, just small things that you’ll add that can make your home feel cozy and welcoming.

  • Cushions. They’re fun, comfortable, and inexpensive – you can buy cushion sets at Ikea for as low as $6.99. Placing them on your bed, chairs, or couch can give a friendly look to your room. 
  • Rugs. These add personality to your space and can be changed at any time – go wild! Rugs create a cozier, warmer feel to any room by adding a layer of comfort and reducing the echo in a space, especially one with tile or hardwood floors. 
  • Small furniture. Consider adding these after you’ve picked out larger furniture. Coffee tables and nightstands are good examples – they fill dead spaces nicely and can be quite useful.

Buy second-hand furniture.

If there’s one thing that we all know, it’s that decorating can be expensive.

One way to avoid budget problems is to save up for home decorating specifically. When you already have a small sum of money to design your space when the time comes, it gives you more freedom.

It’s also helpful to remember that you don’t have to buy everything at once – decorating your house little by little can be a fun process, and allows you to change your mind along the way.

Your home decorating budget will go further if you buy second-hand furniture.

There’s really not a need to splurge if you don’t absolutely want to, and you can get some great deals from second-hand sellers. This is a sure fire way to buy gorgeous furniture that is in great shape for at least half of the price you’d pay for an original one. 

  • Look around as much as you can. Make sure you’ve visited a lot of yard sales and gone through sites like Craigslist before you buy something. This is so you get the best deal you possibly can.
  • Pay attention to details. Check how the furniture is built, if there are any damages, if it has been fixed before, and inspect the materials. You don’t want to buy something just to throw it away a few weeks later.
  • Think about refurnishing. An upgrade could make a piece of furniture look as good as new, and no one will even notice that it’s not first-hand. You could give a nice artistic touch to it, or maybe paint it again, fix something that could work better – it’s your call.
  • Test it. Don’t bring home anything without sitting on it, opening all the drawers and doors, and seeing how much weight it can carry. You have to know exactly what you’re buying.

Keep lighting in mind.

Unless you’re very lucky, your house won’t come with an incredible set of lights.

Why is this so important? A well-lit environment is a key part of your interior design. It can open up the room, make it cozier, feel larger, etc. – it truly depends on the ambiance you want to set.

Our main tip would be to go with white light rather than yellow ones. White light can make your space look bigger and fancier.

Other than that, lamps and light pieces can fill up those small blank spaces in the room that you don’t really know what to do with.

  • Keep measures in mind. Make sure you know how tall your ceiling is or how large your room is before you buy any lamps.
  • Choose warmer lighting for hallways and bathrooms. You won’t want any bright lights in your face when you leave your room in the middle of the night. Go with a softer light that will be guiding instead of blinding.
  • Stay consistent. If you want lighting that will make your room feel clean and airy, you shouldn’t place it in a space where the walls are too dark. Don’t forget about the other elements of your home when you’re picking what kind of light you want.

Liven up the place with natural elements.

If you’re in the final stages of decorating and noticed that your home has too many white walls and or still looks a little empty, plants are an amazing option for you.

Plants add a natural vibe and can bring your house to life. They’re also your go-to if you want to add more color but are afraid of the contrast it could cause with the other tones of your space— plants add a spot of green, but doesn’t conflict with other colors.

This article (https://www.thespruce.com/ways-to-decorate-with-plants-4049334) talks in-depth about different plants you can use to decorate depending on what you want for each space. 

When we’re talking about natural elements, we can also mention wooden materials. They’re easy to match with other furniture and look great almost everywhere. 

Invest in storage furniture.

Even if you just bought a new house and you’re excited about organizing and enjoying that feeling of having your stuff together, we know that it is easier said than done.

The things we own can easily pile up – books and clothes are the most common. Filling your house with clutter can happen faster than you think if you’re not prepared to deal with the reality of organizing.

  • Book shelves. This is where you can put together your books, notebooks, and any old-school DVDs or CDs. Some people like to organize their shelves by genre, color, alphabetic order— it’s up to you.
  • Closet organizers. You won’t regret investing in items that maximize closet space, especially when you look at that pile of clothes on your bed. Smaller drawers can help you organize clothes that don’t necessarily need to take up a hanger. In addition, shoe racks are perfect for using the space at the bottom of your closet and keeping your shoe options visible.
  • Plastic boxes. They’re easily placed anywhere and can be super useful for organizing. You can even add labels to each box so you know where to look for when you need something.

Make the best out of your outdoor space.

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, you should definitely plan on making great use of it whether it’s for your personal relaxation or for entertaining family and friends.

  • If you have a deck, consider placing chairs or a small sofa on it – this will give you a comfy space outside to relax during hot summer days or when you have guests over.
  • Flowers, flowers all the way! Potted plants and succulents can bring your yard to life and add color in any season.
  • Keep your grass in check. A yard that looks put together and trimmed can give your house a sophisticated vibe, while one that is not taken care of can do the exact opposite.

Buying a house for the first time is an incredible milestone and you should allow yourself to enjoy the good parts, like decorating. 

Be creative, stay consistent, and don’t be afraid to give your home character! Remember, there’s no rush to do it all at once.

Here is a brief summary of everything we’ve discussed:

  • Declutter. Move into your brand new house only with things that you need. Donate everything that you don’t.
  • Plan ahead. Envision your dream house and take notes on it so you’ll have a guide when picking out your items.
  • Make it personal. Add your own personality to your home to make it look like it’s lived in.
  • Add layers. Get yourself a nice set of cushions, rugs, curtains, and small furniture to compliment your space.
  • Research furniture options to save. You can find incredible furniture for half the price if you look for second hand items. Don’t be afraid to test them, ask questions and visit as many yard sales as you can.
  • Don’t forget about lighting. A well-lit environment can make or break your decoration. It’s worth the investment, trust us!
  • Take advantage of natural elements. Plants and wooden materials will give your house a clean, light vibe and they’re easy to match with just about everything.
  • Invest in storage furniture. You don’t want to panic when you realize your house is just too messy and there’s no space for anything. Shelves, closets, and bins can go a long way.
  • Make the best out of your outdoor space. If you have a backyard, make it a nice space to relax or entertain. Add some chairs, small tables, plant flowers—go wild!

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