Moving into a newly purchased home would seem to be an ideal situation. There’s fresh paint, clean carpets or flooring, and all that empty wall space waiting like a blank canvas for your first decorations. But trust me when I say it’s not that easy to make a new home feel warm and inviting. It can take years before a home really tells you what it needs.
A home is a work in progress, ever changing, always evolving. Styles change and people eventually crave improvements, even with the best chosen furnishings and fabrics.
I think the thing that holds us back from creating a warm home environment is uncertainty, but there is also this misconception that a home looks better when sparsely furnished. Unless you happen to prefer the look of a museum or a mass-mailed furniture catalog, nothing could be further from the truth. A home looks and feels better when it has a more personal appearance, one that has evolved over time.
So how to avoid impersonal décor and furnish/decorate your home right from the beginning? I’ve put together some ways to help you identify the usual culprits of decorating a brand new home and some solutions to apply on your own or with the assistance of a decorator.
Resist the temptation to discard any furniture or accessories until well after the big move. You may “think” you don’t like an old chair or desk or lamp but in reality those old pieces may have just the aged appeal your new home needs. Further, don’t break the bank purchasing a bunch of new things for the spare rooms. You can always discard your old items later but for now, wait till well after everything is unpacked and placed.
Place the biggest pieces first: the bed, area rugs, the sofa, the China hutch, the dining table, and the entertainment center. Place these correctly before proceeding. Don’t place anything on angles. That idea is passé and never worked well to begin with.
Think of big pieces of furniture as anchors. When placed correctly, these anchors will “feel” like they’ve been there “forever”. Like matured landscaping, they give a space a sense of “permanence”.
Once the biggest pieces are placed properly, you can place the smaller items such as the sideboard, armchairs, accent chairs, cocktail and end tables, lamps and dressers.
The most common mistake in decorating a new home is to under furnish it. Nothing looks more impersonal than a home without enough furniture or accessories. Still, when prioritizing your budget obviously its best to buy the home first. From a financial standpoint, homes generally increase in value whereas most furniture doesn’t.
In the living room, if the space is large you’ll need two to three seating arrangements: one dominant and one to two subordinate. For small spaces one to two seating areas is plenty. Accentuate each area with at least one accent table and/or lamp. Floor lamps are nice where space is limited providing they’re placed near a wall. You don’t want any exposed cords for people to trip over.
The second most common mistake is to overlook window treatments. Unless your architecture and views are outstanding and the windows are to die for, you probably need a little fabric on them by way of draperies, sheers or valances. Wooden shutters and blinds are a wonderful option too but they can look unfinished without a pair of stationery draperies or a tailored valance.
Steps Four and Five
By now, it’s time to gild the lily. You have your big anchor pieces and small accent pieces placed. Now you get to place accessories and hang pictures. These two steps will actually take more time than the previous three.
I like to start at the beginning, the entry. From there I like to move on to the formal living room, then the dining room, then the master bedroom, then the family room or den if there is one, then the kitchen, spare bedrooms and bathrooms.
I like to work in a circular fashion viewing my rooms as I go, from the point of entrance. Try and mix up styles and eras as you furnish and accessorize each room and aim for a balanced “coverage” throughout.
Lastly, think about how the size of your furnishings relate to the rest of the things in your rooms. Think about texture and line. Vertical lines impart a formal look while horizontal lines are casual and restful. Though paint is the easiest, quickest way to decorate it’s also the most over used element of design. Control the use of color when choosing paint. Paint colors should pull your interiors together, not dominate them.
If your home or room is missing something that you can’t identify, chances are good that it’s scale, texture, fabric, or greenery.
Little things can make a big difference in a new home, like new faucets, new light fixtures, and new doorknobs. I notice these tend to be dated in many homes. I think the reason for this is because they weren’t chosen well to begin with. When you’re ready to take your home to the next level, here are some nice little “upgrades” that can take your home from fair to fabulous and not break the bank.
Custom vanity mirrors
When bigger improvements are a consideration, think about the value of the home and whether or not it can realize the investment of upgrading. In design school way back in the mid-nineties, we were taught that kitchens can be remodeled at about 5-10% of the home’s market value and retain or improve its value but I’m not sure this still applies in our new economy. This would be a good topic to discuss with your realtor at the time of purchasing your new home.
Kitchen and bath remodels (cabinets, counters, etc.)
Stainless steel kitchen appliances
Energy efficient doors and windows
Upgraded fireplaces, hearths and mantels
For women with arthritis, other things come into consideration that lend to convenience, stability and stress management. For more information, google Universal Design or hop on a 15-minute discovery call with me to talk about a few of your biggest concerns. Email me at [email protected] and write Discovery in the subject line.
Live beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree’
And if you want more arthritis related design and wellness guidance, click here… “Pain Free Design and Wellness” and you’ll get a free chapter of my powerful new book that helps women with arthritis create beautiful, functional homes and take better care of themselves every day!