The moment that you get the keys to your first home, be it rented or bought, is in my opinion one of the most pinnacle moments that life has to offer. Your stress levels are through the roof, you’re seemingly stranded in cardboard city but the only thing on your mind is making the place look pretty – forget the practicalities and bring on the dust collectors! Your heart is longing to fill your brand spanking new pad with pretties from West Elm and Swoon Editions but there is one minor detail that in your frenzy you may have slightly overlooked – money.
Yes money – the bane of all lives. Why haven’t we come up with an endless supply of it yet? You see, there are so many things I wish I’d been told before we moved into our first (rented) home together. I wish I’d been given a manual; “Making a house a home when it isn’t your own (without breaking your budget)”. Those colossal bills and deposits may result in the mid century table of dreams idea being squashed (for now), but fret not! Every cloud has a silver lining.
After living in the flat for over two years now, I feel like I have learnt quite a few lessons on the do’s and the don’ts when it comes to decorating your first home.
Take Your Time
Don’t run before you can walk. I know it’s hard to resist the urge to get stuck in straight away but honestly, the best advice I think I could give (one I wish I’d been told!) is to take your time and live in the space for a while. You’ll be surprised how different a place can feel over time. There have been countless ideas of mine over the past few years that simply haven’t worked in the space when it came down to it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to accept sacrifices lying down but it’s of utmost importance to create a home that you feel good in – one that reflects your personality. Take some time to get to know how the light changes throughout the day, to figure out your style and most importantly, work out how you’re planning on using the space. It can be pretty and practical remember?
Inject A Bit Of You Into Your Home
A necessity in the transition from house to home is personality – injecting a bit of you into your home. Photos, paintings, prints, plants, it’s the little things that make your home yours. Fill your home with things you love, rather than buying something because it looked nice on someone else’s Instagram (guilty!). Those little homely touches that bring your home to life (and don’t need to break the bank). Find your own style – this may not be an instant thing but will be something that you realise over time, so be patient. Baby steps and all that.
To Paint Or Not T0 Paint – That Is The Question
When it comes to giving your home a new lease of life, a lick of paint does wonders. However, it’s not a decision that I feel can be taken lightly. Speaking from personal experience, we had an absolute mare picking paint. There I was, flicking through Farrow & Ball and Little Greene paint charts and stalking people on Instagram for different colour inspiration, driving Joe mad trying to decipher between 50 shades of grey for our Living Room. I know that it’s only paint and you can just paint over it if you don’t like it, but personally, we just couldn’t afford to not be sure. Eventually we settled on a few, and so off we went to buy some sample pots. However, when we got home and put the samples on the walls, I realised that paint shades can play tricks on you. Our 50 shades of grey ended up being varying shades of lilac and light blue – some with hints of grey. After a lot of trial and error, we went with Farrow & Ball Ammonite. All I can say is, thank god Joe made us buy samples instead of going in all guns blazing with a big tin (which may or may not have been my idea…). Note to self: samples are saviours.
Spread The Load & Consider Investment Pieces
When we first moved in we spent all of our money in Ikea (genuinely). Now, I’m a big fan girl of the store. Huge. However, part of me wishes that we’d held out a little longer and saved for those investment pieces – the things that we (I) really loved, rather than simply filling the space with countless impulse buys. We’re in the difficult situation now, where we (I) want to replace certain things already and in hindsight, we should have lived without until we found ‘the one(s)’.
One of the most important things that I’ve learnt is to start saving early – as early as you possibly can. Spread the load and buy pieces as you go. Not only will this reduce stress, it will also reduce the number of second best options that fill your home (and eventually get the boot). Know where to save money and where to splurge and don’t turn down any hand-me-downs or second hand goods (especially if you’re saving for the mid century table of dreams). Upcycling old furniture that you’ve had for donkey’s years also does wonders (you can read all about my upcycling projects here). Accept the imperfections and embrace unfinished corners. After all, it’s never going to be ‘perfect’ from the word go. Where would the fun be in that?
Inspiration vs Imitation
When looking for inspiration, the possibilities are endless and can be somewhat daunting. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed but inspiration is vast and can come in the simplest form. Whether it’s from Pinterest, Instagram, an accessory like a cushion for example, or a piece of furniture – make sure you get as many ideas as possible to help work out what you love. Be it a certain colour or style, you will definitely start to see certain themes reoccuring. Embrace them, build on them, evolve them.
This is key – there is a fine line between inspiration and imitation. Innovate don’t imitate. I admit, I’ve followed trends, I’ve taken inspiration from accounts that I follow (haven’t we all?) but probably the biggest mistake that I’ve made and my greatest learning curve is taking inspiration that one step too far. Trends come and go, things that inspire us may change. So find a style that completely embodies you – inject your personality into your home.
What are your top tips for first time buyers (or renters) when it comes to decorating your home?