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Interior Design Tips for the First-Time Homeowner

You’ve just bought your new home. From the moment you first stepped over the threshold, you could just picture yourself living in the house with your decorations, furniture, and belongings arranged just the way you want them. No longer do you have to treat the walls in your home as rental property.

You have so much freedom, in fact, that you start to feel a little overwhelmed. Just how are you going to decorate an entire house by yourself? Before you start to panic, keep reading. You don’t have to be a professional interior designer to make your space look great.

Take it In Doses

Approach your home design projects like you approached projects in school (well, like the teacher told you to approach projects in school): divide them into parts and handle them a little bit at a time.

Decide which room you want to tackle first—it will probably be a room that visitors will see, like the kitchen, living room, or dining room. Start small by deciding on the interior design style you want to implement in your home. A few of the many stylistic options you can choose from include the following:

  • eclectic
  • minimalistic
  • country rustic
  • Victorian
  • contemporary
  • vintage
  • art deco
  • Asian
  • coastal
  • French
  • Mediterranean

If you don’t know what style you are looking for, hit the books. Go to the library and find home décor books, subscribe to home magazines, and visit home design websites (Pinterest will be your best friend!) and find out more about each option—get inspired! Once you’ve picked a style, decide what colors you want to use in the room you are starting with. Then you can start forming a specific design plan.

Follow Basic Design Rules

 

You’ve probably heard tidbits of decorating advice here in there throughout your life; things like “only put one type of wood in a room,” or “never paint the walls a dark color.” While it may be useful to consider each home décor adage, the “rules” you will want to follow will depend entirely on your design style.

No matter the scheme, however, there are some basic design principles that will help you create a beautiful interior.

  • Pick the textiles you want to use in a room and then match your paint to the fabric—not the other way around.
  • Use a variety of texture to give your room dimension and layers.
  • Make sure the room is balanced—whether you want it symmetrical or asymmetrical. Move things around until the scales are even.
  • Include contrast not only in textures, but also in color, patterns, and size.

Avoid common decorating mistakes by following these guidelines:

  • Have plenty of light. Every room should have three sources of light (source: Apartment Therapy). Light makes a room appear bigger, illuminates your interior design, and helps you see better.
  • Cover your windows. Window treatments soften the hard edges around window frames, help diffuse the light and protect your privacy inside your home. They also do a great job of covering up ugly blinds.
  • Measure the furniture. Furniture that doesn’t completely fill a room will look just as bad as furniture that is too big for a room. Measure your space, decide how big you want your sofas, beds, and chairs, and take a measuring tape when you go furniture shopping.
  • Pick a focal point. To keep rooms from looking cluttered, pick a focal point and base your design efforts towards it.

As you spend time in magazines, books, and websites looking for inspiration, you will pick up more basic home décor “rules.” Remember Picasso’s words—“Learn the rules like a scholar so you can break them like an artist.” Be open to suggestions, but go with what looks good to you.

Use a Budget

 

When you are buying art prints, cabinet knobs, and draperies, it’s easy to overspend. If you don’t have a very large budget, to begin with, pace yourself.

Also, keep in mind that buying the most inexpensive options isn’t always the wisest strategy. Some furnishings—like beds and couches—are a solid investment and will be worth the price.

Remember, your new home is yours—decorate it however you want to (not how your mother-in-law wants you to). Keep basic design rules in mind, get inspiration from a variety of sources, and let your personality shine through your design.

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