Few things in life are as daunting as decorating your first home. With so many options available and so many decisions to make, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Many of us just retreat into the familiar or the expected, leaving a trail of disappointment (and Barley White paint) in your wake. Maybe invest in custom made furniture, so you get what you want from the start.
Decor confusion isn’t limited to the young. These days it’s not unusual for people to find themselves starting over in middle age, with the ending of a relationship or a move precipitated by a new job.
Whether you’re starting out or starting over, these steps can help you navigate the difficult process of decorating a home for the first time.
Decide what you like. A lot of people don’t know what decorating styles they like. It’s not that they don’t have opinions — they just don’t know how to articulate their preferences.
The easiest way to figure out what appeals to you is by looking at photos of other homes. And the most inspirational and easiest way to do that is by looking on the internet or décor magazines. Save your favourite ones in an scrap book or file. After you’ve collected at least a dozen images, sit down and compare them. What are the common denominators, in terms of colour, furniture style, pattern and density of objects in the room?
Keep in mind the architecture of the space you’re living in and the limitations that might impose. High Victorian will generally not work in a matchbox flat or apartment.
Create a budget. Work out how much you can spend. If you can’t afford to decorate the whole place at once, pick the room where you spend most of your time and make that your priority. That way when the rest of your home is in disarray, you’ll have finished at least one room, to keep you sane.
Plan your space. I know this sounds like a drag, and something a schoolteacher would advise you to do. So ask us at Mellowood to do it for you.
Pick a colour palette. Some people say you should pull your colour palette from the flooring. Others recommend starting with a piece of art. I would start with the item you’re most in love with. If that’s a rug, pull the colour palette from that. If it’s an artwork you own or an outfit you adore, let that dictate the decor. If you’re madly in love with the colour yellow, start there.
Once you have your palette established, let the rest of the decor spring from that. Use neutral colours for investment pieces, like the sofa and dining table, and put the colour in paint or accent pieces like pillows, lamps and art. That way you can change the colour palette if you feel like it without spending a lot of money.
If you’re reluctant to paint the whole place, just paint an accent wall. If you’re afraid of committing to a bold hue, choose an in between shade. I promise you it’ll look more interesting than Linen White.
Invest in the right furniture pieces. A sofa is going to stay with you for a long time, so get a good one Even if you think you’ll have it just temporarily, it’ll end up moving from the living room to the family room to the basement to the college dorm. So don’t skimp. The same holds true for a dining table. Consider having a custom made dining table, the costs are much the same as retail, but you end up with what you want.
I also think it’s worth investing in one good, super-comfortable reading chair. Choose neutral upholstery, like white, taupe or grey, for your investment pieces.
Measure everything. Measure your space before you go shopping (as well as the doorways, stairs and lift openings leading to your domicile), and bring those measurements when you shop.
Furniture will look smaller in a showroom with high ceilings than it will look in your living room. Mix and match your furniture, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a lounge suite, it can be a mix of couches and different chairs. Have different cushions for your dining chairs, or choose different chairs all together.
Where to skimp. If you need to cut costs, do it with accessories: Look for mirrors, pillows and lamps at places like Mr Price etc. The dirty little secret of decorating is that if you mix in a few cheap things among the more expensive items, no one will notice. If you are having custom made furniture, ask us to use the same wood to frame your mirrors or artworks.
Include something old with your something new. Don’t buy everything new. Go to an antiques store, or if you can’t afford that then flea markets or auctions, and pick up a few accessories that don’t look like you bought them off the shelf at the import store.
Pieces with history give a room personality and depth, and are what distinguish a home from a furniture showroom.
Consider “temporary” furniture. Lots of experts advise against buying “temporary” furniture. I don’t agree. You can mix temporary with new, as and when you can afford to replace it. It can take a long time to find just the right pieces for a home. And nobody likes camping out for six to 12 months, waiting for the perfect item to show up.
If you don’t have family members you can beg or borrow from, and the satisfaction of having something filling that spot outweighs the cost of it, then go right ahead and buy it.
Hire a pro. If you’re still unsure about all of this, you can always seek the services of a interior designer or, again, ask us. We will create a 3D plan of what your room will look like. All part of the service.
If you can’t afford a beer to champagne decorating job, then just ask for an hourly consultation. The designer will help you clarify your style, steer you toward the right furnishings and assist in the development of a long-term plan.
Chill. Your first home probably will not be your last home. So don’t feel like you’ll be living with every decision for the rest of your life. Yes, it makes sense financially and environmentally to acquire foundation pieces that will transition from your first home to your second, third and fourth. But that throw pillow is going to be around for only a few years. Same with those sheets and towels, and that table lamp. So have fun.
Thanks to Decor World, Orlando