If you're looking to buy your first home or have just signed on the dotted line, congratulations! Gone are your days of cramped rental apartment living—you now have a place to make all your own. Although, if you just spent a large chunk of change securing your new abode, the thought of decorating it may be totally overwhelming, and we get it.
Between selecting the best white paint (Eggshell? Off-white? What's the difference?) for your bedroom and splurging on a new sofa that will fit your living room, there's a lot to consider even before you start packing up your boxes and loading them into the moving truck. Whether you're starting from scratch or you already have a few ideas in mind, let this guide be your go-to for home decor ideas you'll want to remember.
Begin With Paint
Nothing will both transform and personalize your space more than a fresh coat of paint. When it comes to paints, your options are really limitless, so spend some time thinking about what kind of vibe you want each room to have. Are you more in the market for warm neutrals or are you learning towards something bold and bright like a sunny yellow? On the other hand, you may want to experiment and go dark.
"Gray is one of those timeless colors that always has a great air of elegance," designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard told MyDomaine.
Painting the walls is something you should do before moving in any furniture and boxes. Believe us, painting an empty home is about a million times easier than it is post-moving in and having to cover everything in plastic.
Choose a Bed
If you're truly starting your decoration process from scratch, picking a bed should be on the top of your list of furniture to buy. And these days, there are more mattress options than ever with brand names like Casper, Tuft and Needle, and Fleep. We've found that an eco-friendly mattress makes for the best night's sleep.
Remember to measure your room and make sure the bed and frame combo you're dreaming up makes sense for the square footage you're working with.
Invest in a Sofa
Because it's the anchor of your living room (in addition to being a good spot to nap, get work done, and have the occasional TV dinner), a sofa is a piece definitely worth investing in. Now that you have your own place, you don't need to worry about picking a sofa that will travel well or fit into a variety of different rentals. With that in mind, select a high-quality couch at the perfect size, scale, and configuration (if you're going with a sectional) to suit your home. You may be shocked at the price, but it's well worth the investment.
Lay a Foundation With Rugs
Area rugs are wonderfully versatile pieces that add personality and texture to a room. A large rug in a natural fiber (like seagrass or sisal) is a relatively inexpensive way to cover your hard flooring. It can also be enlivened when layered under a more vibrant patterned rug.
Now that you know you'll be staying in your home for a while, consider ordering a rug in custom dimensions to make sure it's just the right size.
Splurge on Lighting
Once you've selected the big pieces for your home, we suggest spending some time choosing overhead and wall lighting to make your new place feel like your own. Switching out light fixtures in rental apartments can be tricky, but in your first home, you have more freedom and flexibility. Plus, spending money to have an electrician hang an eye-catching fixture is worth it for the visual impact.
Personalize With Textiles
Side tables, accessories, and unique textiles are next on our list of items to invest in for a custom look. Though you may have opted for more basic pillows and throws in the past, you've now painted your home and selected quality furniture and lighting, so it's a good idea to choose pillows and throws that are more in line with your permanent style.
Add Character With Art
A fine art collection takes time to acquire, but just because you're waiting to find the perfect piece before making a bigger purchase doesn't mean your walls have to go bare. While we wouldn't advocate buying inexpensive pieces you don't love (just for the sake of filling your space), we do suggest keeping your eyes peeled for cheaper artwork to get your collection started.
Art is incredibly personal, so you should buy what speaks to you most, not what necessarily looks best in a space. Unlike furniture, art doesn't have to flow perfectly with the rest of the room. In fact, it makes more of an impact when it stands out.
Make Easy Upgrades for a Custom Look
Though a full bathroom or kitchen renovation might be a few years down the line, you can make relatively inexpensive changes that will give your home a custom look for less. Plain subway tile, faucets, new hardware, and new pendant lights can do wonders for a kitchen—even if it means living with the linoleum countertops for a few more years.
Consider an Accent Wall
Similar to paint, wallpaper has a unique transformative quality that can instantly elevate the look and feel of your space. Whether you're after chic chinoiserie, bold patterns, or soft hues, applying wallpaper on just one wall (or even the ceiling) is an easy way to change a room. We recommend peel-and-stick to minimize the fuss (and mess) of applying it, but also because you can easily swap it for another pattern when you're sick of it.
Don't Forget About the Details
Once all of the big furniture pieces are in their rightful places, pick out the smaller items that make a house feel more like home. Whether you're into vintage vases, leather-backed books, or delicious candles, the little details will make each space feel more personal.