October 15, 2014

10 Things I Wish I'd Known About Decorating my First Home

I was talking to a friend who's about to decorate her first home. She asked me if there was anything I wish I'd known when I went to decorate my first place that would have saved me time or money.  Absolutely there are a few things...

1. Buy your big pieces of furniture secondhand/at lowest cost: This is not just about saving money, it's also about how your style will change as you learn what you like and don't like. Don't spend a lot on a piece by justifying that it's a piece you've always wanted and an investment in your future. The likelihood is that your style will likely change until it reaches a point where it slowly evolves.

2. Reconsider before you reject: When you move into your first place, people will be so excited for you that they may want to gift you with some of their old stuff (or they may just be trying to get rid of it!). Before you immediately reject it, make a list of inexpensive changes you might make to it. You might reupholster an old couch or paint its frame, remove a skirt or add a pillow or six. Not only will this save you money, it will hone your ability to look at a piece in a flea market or antique shop or Craig's List and see its potential.

3. Inspiration boards are not always good for decorating your first space: I've found that trying to recreate someone else's room in your first space, a space that will go through a lot of transitions, ends up costing you a lot in time and money. #ThanksAlotPinterest

4. Paint is your best friend: You can paint a wall or a piece of furniture, dip the legs of your mismatched chairs in paint to unify them or paint a block of color behind your bed to act as a faux headboard. Stencils are also an inexpensive way to bring a space from drab to fab!

5. Know Your Whites: I ended up buying a good amount of really expensive paint in a beautiful grey color. This grey goes really well with a cool white and not a warm white. And I am sure that you can surmise that my trim was a warm white....The grey made my trim look dirty instead of warm white.

6. Move Things Around:  Take the time to try out different configurations to get to the best one to live it. This even and maybe especially goes for your kitchen and where you place things in your cabinets. It can be a lot of work to move this stuff, but I think well worth it.
7. Chill out With the Color:  Neutral walls can help you do more with color without overdoing it or being too tied down to it. It gives you more room to decorate with color in a space and change your mind again, again, and again.
8. Be Patient:  Like I mentioned above with the color, I ended up painting my guest bath a neutral color. I did not know what color palate I wanted in there. Then I decided coral was going to be my color. I was excited but could never find the things I needed to decorate the space in my coral color scheme. WTH?! So then I got impatient and went with blue. Moral of this story...I still want coral.
9. Let your home annoy you: It's tempting, after a day of looking at decor mags and blogs, to want to fix everything in your space, especially when it comes to storage issues. But instead of trying to solve it immediately (which usually involves buying a lot of storage containers), live with the problem for a while. I am living with the blue in my guest bath right now. Often you'll happen upon a better solution that will end up being cheaper and simpler. Which brings me to the biggest lesson:

10. Live with as little as you can: It's tempting, when you first live alone to want to get all that stuff you've been eyeing for ages. Yes, you may be a home decor junkie but, instead of buying every pillow and flowerpot you see, take a picture of it, pin it to your Pinterest board or post it on your blog. Just wait a few months and your home will have accumulated plenty and you won't want clutter. Embrace the minimalism and ensure that you love something before you drop the cash for it. 
What do you wish you would have done the first time around?
What are some of your tips for first time home/apartment decorators?


  1. My issue nowadays is for some reason when we look for houses, I always try to picture our current couch in it and if I can't see it in the living room I bypass the house. I always forget that we'll probably buy new pieces but for now that's always my mindset.

  2. You nailed it with this post!! Almost ALL of our big furniture pieces were bought on Craigs List, hand-me-downs or in warehouse type of sales and I'm really glad we did it that way. Do I LOVE them all? No, but like you said, I didn't know what I loved when we bought our house! Now that we've lived here 3+ years I have ideas for how I'd like to update things along the way... either in this house, or perhaps a next one down the road! And definitely update/decorate as you can- its overwhelming if you try to make everything perfect all at once!

  3. Great tips! I got some of my furniture from my sister, but I loved being able to make it my own by upcycling it. :)

  4. So many good tips to keep in mind for when we eventually move! The white one is a good one because that's something I probably would have never thought of, but makes so much sense!

  5. Agh, I'm still working on that last step: my husband and I moved in during the summer, but it's taking FOREVER to slowly go through the apartment and get rid of stuff so that everything starts looking more organized and tidy and - most importantly - like it belongs. I saw an awesome quote today that read something like, "Make sure that you think everything inside your home is either useful or beautiful." :)

  6. Oh minimalism!!! That's my biggest regret. But I was doomed from the start. My family is a family of hoarders :P

  7. Great ideas, even if it isn't your first home! I am taking some of these to heart as we rent a new location in a few weeks!


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