Decorating Tips for People Who are Starting Out or Starting Over

Decorating your first home seems daunting because of the many options available and decisions you have to make. Many people just confine themselves to the familiar or the expected, leaving them disappointed with the results.

It is not only young people who themselves in this situation. These days it’s not uncommon to see people in their middle age starting over again because of a broken relationship or transfer to a new job.

Here are some tips for first-time home decorators, whether they are starting out or starting over:

  • Choose the decorating style you like

A lot of people have difficulty articulating their decorating preferences. If you are one of them, the easiest way to figure out what decorating style you like is by looking at photos of other homes. There are many decorating magazines and websites you can check out. Pinterest is ONE of my favourites and you can see many of my styling boards and ideas at   Another idea is to collect at least a dozen photos and compare them. Find the common denominators with regards to colour, furniture style, pattern and density of objects in the room.

Take into account the architecture of the area of your home and the limitations that you might face. For example, if you are living in a cracker-box condo, a high Victorian will generally not be appropriate.

  • Create a budget

Determine how much you can afford to spend. If you don’t have the budget to decorate all the spaces simultaneously, choose the spaces you will be using often and decorate them first. That way, if you find your home in chaos, you have at least one room where you can escape.

  • Draw a floor plan

With Internet technology, it is now easy and fun to sketch a floor plan. The web offers many free floor plan programs, such as Jordan’s Furniture in Boston.  This easy-to-use program offers a wide range of furniture templates and does not bound you to exclusive furniture brands.

If you want to see how your floor plan looks in real life, make use of moving boxes to create furniture, or make footprints of every item using towels, blankets or newspaper.

  • Choose a colour palette

Some people suggest pulling your colour palette from the flooring. Others advise beginning from an artwork. But the method that makes the most sense is starting from the item that you love the most, be it a rug, a piece of art, or your favourite outfit. Let of these items dictate your décor.

When you have decided on a palette, allow the rest of the décor to flow from that. Utilise neutral tones for investment pieces such as the dining table and the sofa, and place the colour in paint or accent pieces such as art, lamps or pillows. This will allow you to switch colour palette if you get bored with the existing one without costing too much.

  • Paint

Paint is the most inexpensive way to make your space your own and it also delivers the most bang for your money. Even if you’re leaning towards white, find a beautiful white that creates the right vibe.

If you don’t want to paint the entire space, limit it to an accent wall. If you’re unsure of bold colours, pick a colour in the middle ground. It will surely look more exciting that Linen White.

  • Invest in the right furniture items

You hope your sofa would serve you for a long time, so make sure you purchase a good one. Even if you are intending to use it temporarily, it will find a home from your living area to the family room to the basement and eventually to the college dorm. So splurge! Do the same for your dining table.

It is also good to invest in a good reading chair. Buy neutral upholstery such as gray, white or taupe, for your investment pieces.

  • Measure all things

Before going shopping, measure your space as well as the doorways, stairs, elevator openings leading to your home, and don’t forget to bring the measurements when you shop.

Furniture will appear tinier showcased in a room with high ceilings than it will in your living space. And avoid purchasing matching sets of furniture, unless you’d like your home to look like a sales floor featuring a sea of sofas.

  • Where to splurge

If you have to skimp, do it with accessories. Buy your mirrors, pillows and lamps at discount furniture retail stores. The key to decorating is really to combine a few inexpensive pieces among the costlier pieces. Don’t worry – people won’t notice.

  • Mix something old with something new

Do not purchase all items new. Visit an antiques store, or if that’s outside your budget, go to garage sales, auctions or flea markets, and buy a few accessories that look like they were purchased off the shelf at the import sale.

Items with history bring charm and depth to a space, and they are what make a home unique from a furniture showroom.

  • Think about using “temporary” furniture

While some experts don’t recommend using “temporary” furniture, there is merit in doing the opposite.

It will not be quick to find just the right items for your home. And it is annoying to wait for months for that right piece to arrive.

A great place to find filler pieces is garage sales. Yes, they are not the best that you could afford, and yes, there will probably not last very long. However, they will serve their purpose until you can find the exact item that you’ve dreaming about. Later, you can donate those filler items to charity.

  • Hire a professional

If you are not confident in undertaking this process, then hire the services of a professional decorator or interior designer. If a complete decorating job is outside your budget, then sign up for a hourly consultation. You can work with the designer to decide on your decorating style, point you to the right furnishings and help in drawing up a long-term strategy.

  • Take it easy

You won’t probably live in your home forever. So don’t be pressured with the thought of living with the furniture items for the rest of your life. Of course, it’s smart to purchase foundation pieces that you will take along to your second, third or even fourth home. But that throw pillow, bed sheets or towels will last only for a few years. So have fun decorating!

For more inspiration visit my Pinterest site.