Figuring out where to start when turning your new space into a home doesn’t have to be daunting. Moving into a new house or apartment can be an exciting new chapter, whether HGTV-worthy, minimalist or maximalist.
A good first step could be deciding on a budget and priorities.
This may take some trial and error. There’s no shame in starting a project and realizing it’s not what you want to spend your money and time on.
Related: 4 ways to upgrade your home
6 Tips for furnishing your home
The key to finding the right furnishings is to follow your instincts. There isn’t one universal definition of good taste. This is your taste, and where you will live.
Here are a few tips for furnishing your new home.
1. Consolidate your stuff
Part of setting your furnishing budget is identifying what you would like to keep and what you will need to purchase. This new home you’re moving into is the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to pieces that don’t suit your lifestyle anymore. (Remember WWMKD: What would Marie Kondo do?)
Start with key pieces of furniture like beds, couches, dining tables and area rugs. Review what you have. Did you recently purchase your dream bed, or have you had the frame since college? Decide what to keep and what to chuck.
You can sell or donate what you’re saying goodbye to.
2. Prep before the schlep
As a rule of thumb for interior decoration, taking up carpeting or painting the walls are much easier to do before any furniture is brought into the house.
Before move-in day, it may be smart to create a list of any changes you would like to make to the existing interior. Here are some basics to consider:
- Walls and ceilings: Choosing a paint color, patching existing holes, removing popcorn ceilings
- Floors: Removing or adding carpet, putting in hardwood floors, refinishing floors
- Appliances: Selecting kitchen appliances, bringing in a washer and dryer, installing ceiling fans and lighting fixtures
- Bath and kitchen upgrades: Retiling the bathroom, choosing a backsplash, redoing the kitchen counters
- Laundry room reimagining: A laundry room remodel could create a more efficient space or a room that has a dual function
Once you’ve made the list of changes, determine what needs to be tackled now and what can wait. You may be able to live with the blue tile in the kitchen, but maybe the pink walls in the bedroom aren’t going to cut it.
Next, determine what you can do yourself and what will require professional attention.
3. When buying furniture, start with key rooms
The living room and main bedroom are two places you likely spend the most time in, so these are good rooms to prioritize. (You don’t want to have a fully organized pantry before you have an acceptable place to sleep.)
A bed and a couch may be worth spending extra money on in order to get something that will last for years and tie the room together.
Bedroom: A good bed frame and mattress are probably your investment pieces. It may be a good idea to choose a bedroom vibe before buying new pieces so that you have a cohesive theme.
Living room: A couch is the centerpiece here, so that’s the investment piece (and a good décor starting point). Consider size, comfort and color. A big TV or entertainment center may also be part of the equation.
4. Keep things organized while you unpack
The two elements that really shape the feng shui of a home are organization and décor. An organized pantry or closet makes life easier, while a curated bookshelf can subtly affect the entire feel of a room.
See what you already have that can be functional — baskets, bins and such. As you unpack your belongings, use these tools to stay organized.
Depending on your lifestyle, organizational outlays for your new home could range from slimline hangers to a closet remodel.
5. See the big picture
Lay out all décor pieces you own, including art, books, family heirlooms, photographs, trays, candles and vases. Ideally, you’ve gone through most of this stuff in the consolidation phase and kept only things that are meaningful to you or fit your home’s aesthetic.
Once you see everything in one place, begin picking out things that go together. There are no wrong answers here. You might choose travel books for your office and a series of family heirlooms and photographs for your bedroom. This is the most forgiving aspect of interior decoration because smaller décor pieces can be easily shifted.
Once all of your belongings are in place and the art is hung, you can browse online to find some great pieces that resonate with you and your space.
It may be time to frame that print you’ve been hanging on to or to splurge on the perfect pillows for your new couch. These may seem like small additions, but they can make a huge difference.
6. Space out the purchase of big-ticket items
It’s OK if your home looks like a work in progress for a few months. Once you’ve consolidated, organized and decorated, it may be time to buy your investment pieces.
You may want to pick your three or four non-negotiables, like a bed, sofa, TV or live edge dining table, and get those into the house. Then focus on buying the art, rugs and lights you’ve been eyeing.
How much does it cost to furnish a house?
Here are some potential costs for furnishing a new home to help you create a budget. Keep in mind that these are estimates.
Painting: $500 to thousands
Paint supplies depend on the size of your home, number of rooms, amount of trim for doors and windows and the quality of the paint. Paint costs from $15 to $40 per gallon on average, but a designer brand may cost much more than that.
A gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet, and two coats may be recommended. Factor in all the myriad paint supplies to buy if you DIY.
Expect to pay a painter $2 to $6 per square foot for labor and materials, according to HomeAdvisor. So if you need 2,300 square feet painted, the cost could range from $4,000 to $11,000.
Bed: $200 to $2,000 and up
Simple bed frames are available from Ikea or Wayfair in the $100 to $200 range. You can also find medium-range selections from $200 to $1,000 at those retailers as well as more design-driven vendors such as West Elm, Raymour & Flanigan and Crate and Barrel.
Mattress: $300 to $2,000 and up
Newer brands such as Zinus, Casper and Nectar offer mattresses starting at a few hundred dollars. High-end brands like West Elm, Raymour & Flanigan,and Tempur-Pedic can run upwards of $3,000.
Sofa: $200 to $3,000
The Ikeas, Wayfairs, and Targets of the world offer numerous options for a starter piece for a few hundred dollars.
Midrange selections run from $300 to $1,000 from these and other retailers such as Ashley Furniture, West Elm, Raymour & Flanigan, Crate and Barrel and CB2. At the higher end of the spectrum, there are more sophisticated designs from Roche Bobois, Ligne Roset, Design Within Reach and many other luxury brands.
Bedroom Set: $500 to $5,000 and up
Bedroom sets can be found at most of the same kinds of retailers and run from modest to extravagant.
Rugs: $30 to $1,000 and up
Rugs are a cost that’s easy to forget about, and they can be a lot more expensive than you expect. A high-quality Persian rug can run thousands of dollars, but some of the midrange retailers discussed have area rugs starting at $100. Look out for Labor Day and Black Friday sales, too.
Organizational pieces: $20 to $300 and up
Baskets, bins, storage ottomans, vanity sets and free-standing closet systems can add methods to the madness. The Container Store offers inspiration.
When furnishing a new home, you may want to start with a budget, cull your belongings, prepare the new space for move-in (taking up carpet, redoing countertops, remodeling a closet), and identify the initial key purchases. Interior decoration and design can take shape over time.
When you’re making your new house a home, a personal loan may help to ensure that you don’t have to cut corners.
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