Your first home will be the single most expensive purchase you’ve ever made – unless you splurged on a private jet first (if so, that's pretty cool)– and we’re sorry to say, it’s not over yet. Decorating a home can be expensive, but all is not lost! There are ways to put a cap on costs and update your interior whilst staying within your spending means.
Make sure you have a realistic figure in mind when it comes to decorating your new home. This may be an overall sum or you may want to make budgets room by room – by doing the latter, you simultaneously make decisions on where you want to prioritise spending your money. Two birds, one stone!
Unfortunately, the rumours are true: there are almost always hidden costs when it comes to home updates so be strict, but don’t restrict yourself so much that you just make do – a mattress on the floor will only work for so long.
1 - Create a plan
Planning is everything. Without a plan it’s so easy to lose control of budget, timescale and even what you want or need. This is such an exciting time, and it’s tempting to get carried away home shopping before you’ve even exchanged and have the keys firmly in your grasp. Hold fire, sit down, and make a plan.
The best plans will include what you are bringing with you, (helpful hint: you never need as much as you bring – be ruthless and cut the clutter, you’ll thank yourself in the long run), your budget, what rooms you’re updating, a style/look that you have in mind and the priorities in terms of spending and order of decorating.
Remember to measure up and know your room dimensions before you get started, gather style inspiration and think about how and who will use each room.
2 - Decorate first
The general rule is that if you don’t decorate first it won’t get done. Then you will spend 3 years hating that magnolia wall and ageing carpet until you can’t stand it any longer and have to move everything out and start over.Paint the walls and lay that Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT), that looks just like real wood flooring, that you’ve been swooning over. It’s amazing the difference a fresh lick of paint and a change of flooring can do to a space. You’ll feel halfway there already!
3 - Paint is your best friend
As we said before, it's amazing the change a fresh lick of of the perfect pigment can do to a property, but the benefits of paint are infinite. You can create a statement with feature walls, completely transform a room by painting the woodwork, create patterns and individual artwork, upcycle old furniture and add a pop of colour, whether it be small or large.
4 - Second-hand statement
Consider the larger furniture items and bespoke pieces before you get hung up on the finishing touches. Once you have the basics in place, let’s call them the headliners, you’ll have a better idea of which supporting roles you need.
Even though many of the most expensive gifts come in the smallest boxes, as a general rule larger furniture does tend to cost more. It's definitely worth looking into buying your main furniture second hand - often the items are still in great condition, or can be rejuvenated with a bit of TLC.
This also works both ways - sell your old furniture for a bit of extra cash to spend on new items!
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: make sure you know your dimensions. If you go in blind, deciding a layout is near impossible and you may end up with a sofa that takes up an entire room, a dining table lost in a large expanse, a chandelier hanging at shoulder height and your new home becomes more of an obstacle course than a functional living space.
Top tip: Lay out your desired furniture on the floor with masking tape, so you can have an idea of how the room will ‘flow’ before you purchase the furniture to avoid expensive and time-consuming mistakes!
Second-hand items don't need to be just for the big pieces - you can pick up some bargain finishing touches oozing with character at vintage and charity shops too.
5 - Know when to spend and when to save
This comes back to your plan, you know that bit where you thought about how your rooms will be used and who will be occupying them most of the time? Basically, if your favourite thing in the world is snuggling up on the sofa and watching a film at the end of a long day, you're going to want a super comfy sofa, so it's worth spending a little more to get the perfect product for you.
Is the living room a child friendly space? You may not want to invest in the ultra lavish velvet sofa, but you may want to invest in stain guarding your upholstery and making sure your walls are coated in an endurance paint so that they can be wiped clean in an instant. Priorities.
6 - Shop around
Please don’t try and buy everything at once, you won’t know what’s coming and what’s going and an overwhelming task may get that little more stressful. If you are going to get a large discount for buying in bulk and it’s the most cost savvy option – go for it! Just make sure your home doesn’t end up looking like the shop’s showroom (even if their products are utterly gorgeous).
When you’ve personally picked a variety of items from a variety of places, you’ll put your personal stamp on the property and you’re more likely to feel like your home is really yours. Need help curating? Just drop us a message, we've got your back!
Also, it sounds tricky and, well, annoying, but give yourself time to get annoyed by your new home. If you live with as little as you can for a while, what you absolutely need and what you can happily live without will become much clearer. Allowing yourself to be irritated highlights the problems and figuring out the solutions becomes that little bit easier. Just don't leave it so long that you start resenting your living situation - this is supposed to be a fun and exciting time.
Shop around and see what’s out there before you make your decision. Or, as we said before, we can do all this hard work for you.
7 - Small details can make big changes
Small details such as finishing touches, soft furnishings, artwork, photos and lighting can make a larger difference than you thought. These items don't need to be expensive either - this is a super affordable way to add style, character and your own personal touch to your home.
Soft furnishings such as cushions and throws will make your new home feel instantly cosier and warmer, whilst giving you the opportunity to add colour and pattern to your home.
Photos and artwork are brilliant for incorporating a personal element to your home, it's the easiest and quickest way to making a new house, feel like a home that really belongs to you.
8 - Think D.I.Y
Don't be afraid of a DIY project. Along with paint, small changes can make big differences. Changing the knobs on a chest of drawers or adding a work top to an old dressing table can transform an old product in a flash.
Not a fan of your kitchen cabinets? Make them like new with a fresh coat of paint and changing the handles from old iron to flashy new brass.
DIY. What's the worst that could happen?
The dresser in the photo above was an old cabinet that needed a whole lot of love - we added the marble worktop, changed the handles and painted it our favourite Hague Blue shade, and voila! It's a luxurious (and one of a kind) new dresser!
9 - Light it up
Lighting is so important. In fact, it's so important that we'll say it again: lighting is so important. Lighting is transformative (and imperative) when designing a room, yet it is so often left as an afterthought; it is so much more than a practical element as it adds style, character and ambience to your home.
Here, we turn to the expert of lighting, Rowan - founder of Pooky Lights, to explain how to layer your lighting like a pro: "There are lots of sources of light and they all have their own role in any lighting design. Layering of light is building up all the different sources of light, like painting a grand piece of artwork. For example, think of a church. You have light coming in through the clear glass windows, stained glass windows, maybe large chandeliers up high, candles and lower level warm lighting and you are building up this thick, rich tapestry of lighting."
So, removing ourselves from the church metaphor, your new home could probably benefit from embracing a few different light sources. Make the absolute most of the natural lighting you have available to you, add main ceiling lighting, whether it be spotlights or a statement pendant, then include some lower level lighting such as table or floor lamps to create ambience. This needn't be expensive but it needs to be included!
Also, if this is a room where good lighting is imperative (a study or dressing room) make sure you include some task lighting too.
10 - Keep the future in mind
Is your first home also going to be a forever (or long term) home? Make sure you know whether it's an investment or a means to an end, as this will indicate how much you need to spend.
If you're purchasing large pieces of furniture, make sure they're versatile and can be used in a future property - it will save you money in the long run! If this is a forever, or reasonably long term home, then you may want to invest in some bespoke furniture.
When it comes to bespoke furniture, there are definitely pros and cons. It’s definitely worth it in the long run as it is usually very hardwearing and can make the interior look and feel sleeker and make the most out of your space with clever storage solutions.
Can’t find the perfect furniture to fit in those alcoves? Built in shelving! Tight dining space and lacking storage? Bespoke dining bench! Sloping ceiling in the bedroom? Bespoke wardrobes are the answer.