There are few things in life as daunting as owning your first home. From navigating the real estate market to finally settling on a property, having a place to call your own is a procession of difficult decisions that does not conclude at the handover of keys. The house is bare, a brick-and-mortar checklist of empty rooms just waiting to be decorated. With so many options available and so little resources to spare—be it time, money, labour or the whole unholy trinity—it’s hard not to feel a tad overwhelmed.
Fret not, as we’ve put together a list of top tips to keep in mind when decorating your humble abode.
#1 Bring out the brushes. A fresh coat of paint does wonders for transforming drab spaces into vivid extensions of your personality. This is a task best completed before moving in any furniture or boxes, as a vacant house presents an opportunity to deck the walls without the hassle of covering everything in newspaper.
One cannot go wrong with neutral for a start. White, grey and timber tones make for a versatile colour palette that can be counted on to thrive in any setting. Your home accessories will seem even larger than life when set against a backdrop of warm hues. You don’t have to commit to a whole room either. Accent walls offer a quirky alternative to the norm and are easy to replace if you change your mind about the shade down the line.
#2 Check yourself before you wreck yourself. While a lot of people know what they like, they simply can’t form a cohesive picture of stylistic preferences. The obvious way of discerning what appeals to you is by finding inspiration in other dwellings. Work your way through dozens of design websites and publications, making sure to save your favourites. After you’ve collected a respectable number of images, pore over them and look for common denominators. Is there a pattern to the colour, fittings, arrangement and object density in your selections? Always remember to tailor your choices to the architecture of your residence and its attendant constraints. Greco-Roman is well-suited to bungalows and penthouses, not so much SOHO condominiums.
#3 Emulate, not imitate. This may appear to contradict earlier advice, but you should refrain from exclusively consulting your mood board. Trying to recreate someone else’s interior masterpiece is a recipe for disaster, costing you much blood, sweat and tears in the long run. Your first digs will likely end up straying far from your original vision, so it does not make sense to adhere to a rigid ideal. Seek instead to capture the atmosphere of the model homes, the emotions they evoke when you initially laid eyes on them.
#4 Get it down to scale. Nothing is quite as heartbreaking as buying that charming bookcase you’ve had your eye on for months, only to discover that it does not fit the living room alcove the way you thought it would. You may think you know every inch of floor space like the back of your hand, that is, until you walk into a shop. Furniture tends to look deceptively smaller in a showroom with sky-high ceilings than they will in your cramped apartment. Put aside a couple of minutes to measure your space, including the exterior doorways, stairs and elevators if you stay at a high-rise.
#5 Old is gold. More than an exercise in minimising expenses, obtaining your big pieces of furniture secondhand allows you to adapt to changes in taste through the years. Never entertain the fallacy that an exorbitant amount spent on an item is an investment in your future. Your style will undergo four or five transmutations before you settle on something you are comfortable with, and that RM10,000 sofa may not have a part in it.
Plot out an itinerary of visits to antique stores, flea markets, garage sales and auctions, and pick up some gems not owned by the thousands of people who frequent a certain Swedish megastore. Furniture with history lend an air of character and depth, distinguishing your home from cookie-cutter catalogue replicas. This sounds evil, but do keep tabs on floundering hotels, restaurants, businesses and offices; in the event of closure, they are glad to offload inventory at bargain-bin prices.
#6 Embrace happy accidents. The dining table and chairs are mismatched, your display cabinet has been repurposed to store food, the rug you nicked from your grandparents still adorns the bedroom floor. Your first home will not be perfect, but neither should it be. You are learning what you enjoy living with as you go along, rather than what a stranger composed in a photo. Though it is tempting to redecorate after binge-browsing the latest magazines and blogs, sleep on your current situation for a while. Often you’ll chance upon an idea that leave no doubt in your mind that you love it.
This article was originally published on Webuildeasy blog by We Build Easy SDN BHD.