HOW TO FILL AN EMPTY HOUSE
Purchasing your first home is an exciting, tremendous, grown up thing to do. It throws you into a world of agents, lawyers, and finances that is often unfamiliar territory, and you emerge with a place to live and a mound of debt. Once the papers are signed and the excitement fades, you move into a phase of anxiety about how to fill and decorate it (on a tight budget) so it actually starts to feel like a home. An empty house and exhausted savings account can be an overwhelming combination.
Everyone brings something different to a new house. Maybe a couple is living together for the first time and they need to marry their possessions, or a newly minted graduate is moving with an odd assortment of college furniture. I owned next to nothing when I moved. My brother was keeping my college bed, I had books, clothes, and an old dresser, and 2,300 square feet to fill.
No matter where you stand on quality or quantity of possessions the best thing you can do is purge before you move. Get rid of anything you don’t love or don’t need to survive. It’s hard to transition items from one home to another and have them work in both spaces, so sell it now and put the money to good use buying appropriate furniture for your new home. An empty or unfinished space is a motivator for saving and taking the initiative to furnish and decorate. If you are “making do” with an old shabby looking piece of furniture in a new home, then it will be years before you make the switch. It’s easy to become complacent.
I would also advise not to accept used furniture from family or friends. It can be tempting to fill a room with free items, but sometimes the gifts come with strings. People often hold on to unattractive items for longer than necessary for fear of offending or upsetting the giver. Similar to bringing your old furniture into a new house, it can often be a deterrent to upgrading your furniture. I borrowed a dining table when I first moved into my house, with an agreement that it was on loan and would be returned to the giver when I was able to purchase my own. I didn’t plan it into my design, and made sure to budget for a new table early on in the process. This was the best way to handle the situation. Rarely are hand me downs lovely pieces of furniture that you would want to keep forever.
Most normal people don’t have the funds to completely furnish a whole house from top to bottom at the start. The same goes for tackling any renovations. You need to prioritize your purchases and projects, and spend your time and money where it’s needed most. The most basic pieces of furniture you need to live comfortably are a bed, sofa, and dining table (if you have a bar then all you will need are stools). So forget about all of the other empty rooms and focus on these main necessities.
I started in the bedroom, and suggest you do the same. It’s often easier to manage designing and furnishing a bedroom rather than something large like your living space, and so much time is spent in bedrooms it’s nice to have this room completed first. Invest in a quality bed and mattress that can transition and work with many design styles. Most people’s design preferences grow and change, and you don’t want to commit to a trendy expensive mistake, especially at this early stage of home ownership.
Spend time researching and discovering what design style you are drawn to and what direction you would like to take your home. Develop a plan and guide for shopping to assist in making big decisions and ensuring every purchase fits within your overall plan. I have a hard time with this, because I am inundated with new products and inspiration all day everyday. I enjoy experimenting and trying new things, but I also don’t want to stray too far from the things that make me happy, like saturated colors, polka dots, and gold.
Don’t buy cheap just for the sake of filling your home. I see this happen a lot. In the first few months after buying a new house funds are very tight, and the house is empty. You make purchases based on money alone, and in two short years you are ready to replace the previously purchased furniture. This is such a waste. Spend your money wisely and be patient. Wait and save a little while longer to get the piece you really want as opposed to settling for something else. It will save you money in the end.
This post is already too long, so even though I could go on and on I’ll stop it here. The takeaway is steps to guide you on your home decorating journey…research, plan, be patient, and invest. You’ll end up with a home that organically develops into a perfect reflection of you. If this all seems like too much for you to handle, you can always resort to hiring me to guide you through the process. I like telling people what to do.