Congratulations! You got the house. You might have bought it easily or won it after a bidding war in a tough market. Either way, you’re ready to make your space your own.
Of course, that’s one mission that’s easier said than done. Decorating is a tough business, especially if you don’t have an eye for design or natural knack for putting colors, patterns, textures, etc. together.
Fortunately, there are plenty of designers out there who are kind enough to share their secrets so that you can make your home really feel like it’s yours. To start, here are five of the best design tips for any homeowner, but especially first-time buyers and millennials like you.
1. Choose Colors First: If you want a look that’s cohesive within the same room, floor or even throughout the entire house, create your color scheme before you start.
The first way to try and create your own color scheme is to choose from colors that you like. There will certainly be some colors that compliment each other, while some shades will create drama through contrast. Try putting paint or fabric swatches side-by-side to see how your color scheme fits.
Of course, you can use inspiration from sites like Pinterest or articles from interior design magazines to choose your scheme. Once you figure out how you want the room to make you feel, find fabrics, pillows, rugs, accessories and lamps that fit, and top it all of with a slick of paint on the walls. When you’re done with one room, move onto the next. Try and switch which colors are highlighted and which support or contrast the main hues. You’ll be so surprised to see how many different looks you can get out of one inspiration board of colors.
2. Don’t Go Too Heavy on a Theme: It seems as though vacation homes are the biggest offenders in this category, so your new place should be safe. However, it’s important to mention this after talking about the importance of a scheme: a theme is a completely different beast.
You can draw elements of the nautical or rustic or French country into your design scheme, but sometimes it can be too much to do an entire space in that particular theme. In order to play it safe, steer clear of any kitschy accessories — think a giant, rope-wrapped anchor in a beach-inspired design scheme — and always err on the side of neutral when you’re not sure if something will be too much for your space.
3. Say “No” to Wallflowers: It might be tempting to push your furniture up against walls, especially if you’re pressed for space to fit your sofa or another large item. You’ll find that floating your furniture away from the wall makes your entire space feel cozier and more intimate. It makes sense, if you think about it: nobody wants to sit and chat from a couch that’s halfway across the room from an easy chair. With everything close together, you’ll curate those social vibes easily.
4. Let There Be Light: Light has been shown to have an affect how strongly you feel emotions. Cultivate a calm, cozy vibe with light that matches that sentiment. In other words, say no to bright, stark and purely white fluorescent bulbs that make your home feel more industrial than domestic.
You might find that your favorite light comes pouring through your window thanks to the sun outside. You can harness natural light by keeping your shades open and your curtains as sheer as possible. Mirrors bring even more light by reflecting and amplifying what’s there.
5. Upcycle What You’ve Got: Buying a house is expensive, whether yours is a condo or a McMansion. You don’t have to keep the spending spree going in order to make the space feel like home.
One way to easily update the furniture you have is to paint it (or reupholster it if it has fabric elements). You won’t believe how sleek your hand-me-down wooden kitchen table looks until it’s coated in slick, white paint. Again, hit up your Pinterest boards for DIY inspiration and dedicate a weekend to making your old stuff fit into your new space.
Obviously, these five tips aren’t the only ones applicable to your space, but they’re a wonderful starting point as you decide which projects to tackle first. With a lot of personality — and a little bit of elbow grease — you can transform every space into your new house.