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If you missed them, you may want to check out How to Furnish Your New Home Part One – Before You Move In, and Part Two – Moving In. Once you get settled in and have the furniture you need, you can start transforming your space. See my post on Priority Driven Design if you have trouble deciding where to start! If you still have no idea where to begin, I have made some suggestions below. This will be a long process, so decide how much you can spend, and how often, and choose projects that will give you the most impact for the smallest investment.
Priority Driven Design
To briefly summarize, priority driven design involves taking what is important to your family and prioritizing your design projects by how much they will increase your quality of life. My husband and I like to watch movies at home, so a priority driven project would be for us to update our audio and video equipment, and install a larger viewing screen. If your family enjoys cooking together, an investment in a gourmet oven or stove top griddle might give you an instant “return on investment”, qualitatively speaking. I urge everyone to put safety and protection at the top of their priority list because if you aren’t safe and protected, none of the other stuff will matter!
If you have no idea where to start, you may want to start in the kitchen since in most cases it is the heart of the house. This space is used by frequently as both private and public space. Large items in the kitchen would include cabinets, appliances, countertops, and possibly flooring. Most people try to tackle these larger items at one time to limit restricting the use of this space. Smaller (easier and less expensive) projects might include painting or refinishing cabinets, replacing hardware, paint, backsplash, window treatments, and storage. Adding trim such as base molding, crown molding, and chair railing is also a comparatively small project. Lighting can be a large or small project that can produce a huge difference in ambiance. Unless you have electrical experience, do yourself a favor and hire a professional. Working with electricity can be very dangerous and can cause a lot of damage to both you and your home.
Bedrooms and Bathrooms
After you are finished with the kitchen, I recommend working on the “public” spaces (since that is what people will see when they visit). Private spaces can be fairly simple unless you are completely renovating a bedroom or a bathroom. A bedroom can be updated easily with new bedding, window treatments, lighting, a coat of paint, artwork, and modernizing storage. Bathrooms are a little trickier because they often require demolition and replacement of fixtures. For simple surface transformations (paint, mirrors, accessories), it is usually something you can handle on your own.
Dining Rooms and Living Rooms
Other public spaces to consider are the dining room, living or family room, and any recreational room you may have. A dining room probably won’t be a major remodeling job, since it will probably only involve paint and possibly flooring. The dining room is one of the areas where lighting can make a huge difference. Dining sets tend to be a large purchase intended for long-term use. I would suggest investing in quality (over trend) in this instance.
A living or family room might include resurfacing a fireplace, a lighting upgrade, a technology upgrade, flooring or paint. Living room furniture is often used for many years, so this would be an area to invest as well. While the latest trends look fresh and can be tempting, for large purchases that you plan to keep for a while, look for quality first. Secondly, I would advise you to choose durable fabrics or leather (if you are buying upholstery) in a neutral color. Throw pillows, throws, and decorative accessories in the room are better places for trendy colors and prints.
Get To Know the Space, Then Trust Your Instincts.
I would strongly suggest you live in a space for a while before deciding to do a major floorplan change (i.e. moving walls, plumbing, etc.). Living in the space will give you a good idea of what works (and what doesn’t) in terms of your layout and accessibility. When I design a new space for anyone, I like to sit in the room and imagine what types of activities the room will accommodate. Observe the natural lighting at different times of the day and window locations. Note electrical outlets, large wall spaces, and “tricky spots” such as odd jut outs or intrusive ductwork. All of these observations can help you decide the best possible layout for a room!
Know When to Get Help
If you are working with plumbing, electrical, or any utility, consult a professional. You will also need to consult a professional if you are redesigning a space and plan to move or remove walls or windows or to create a new bedroom from an existing space. A professional will know the codes, limitations, and regulations pertinent to your remodel.
Some high impact, low cost/skill projects might include:
- Tile – backsplash or surround
- Textile projects – bedding, window treatments, reupholstering or drop covering furniture
- DIY wall art
- Painting or refinishing cabinets or furniture
- Replacing cabinet or furniture hardware
- Changing out accessories such as pillows, tabletop decor, lamps, and plants
These things can make an amazing difference. Also, don’t forget the exterior of your home. Cleaning up the yard, planting some well-placed greenery, sprucing up the sidewalk and driveway, and painting the mailbox can all have a huge impact on the curb appeal of your home. Annuals will provide seasonal color without a long-term commitment, while perennials, when chosen correctly, can provide color and beauty for years to come.
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush the process. My home is constantly evolving, and I doubt I will ever consider it “finished”.
Until next time,