Once the initial stress of signing documents, parting with large sums of money and packing up your old things are all out of the way, moving into a new house is one of the most exciting things you can do. But if you’re moving into a home that needs a lot of work doing to it, or the previous residents’ interior design really isn’t to your taste, the idea of redecorating the whole house can sound like a daunting task.
From choosing a colour scheme and deciding on paint or wallpaper, to shopping around for essential pieces of furniture like a sofa, dining table and bed, there’s a lot to think about, and a seemingly endless amount of choice. But your home is the place where you’ll be spending most of your time, so it’s important to make the right decisions in order to create a sanctuary to relax in, as well as a place to entertain guests.
A well-decorated house can also add to its value. Having just moved in, you probably haven’t thought this far ahead yet, but future buyers are more likely to want to move in if they can see they don’t have much work to do to make it a pleasant space to be in. Rented homes will usually appeal more to tenants if they’re neutral, but for buyers, a blank canvas can prevent them from imagining themselves living there. This is why estate agents often hire professionals to stage and style properties before viewings.
But you don’t have to be an interior designer to redecorate your new home to a high standard. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to decorate your house and turn it into the dream home you’ll never want to leave, let alone sell.
1: Get inspired
When thinking about how you want your home to look and feel, it’s a good idea to determine its exterior style and incorporate elements of this into the interior to tie everything together. For example, if you have a farmhouse-style property, chunky wooden dressers and floral curtains make sense, whereas a small modern flat lends itself nicely to sleek contemporary pieces like a chrome coffee table and stylish tub chairs.
If you’re struggling for ideas, there are plenty of places you can take inspiration from:
- Make mood boards on networking sites like Pinterest and Instagram
- Flick through interior design magazines
- Watch TV shows about home improvement
- Study friends’ houses and the interiors of your favourite restaurants and hotels
Once you’ve decided on your scheme, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to make every room identical. You could even have different themes for different rooms, for example, a Scandi guest bedroom, Balinese bathroom and boho living room. Try not to go over the top with your chosen theme, though. One wall painted white can allow everything else in the room to have more of an impact.
Here are some examples of popular interior design schemes you might want to incorporate into your home:
This style works particularly well in small spaces, as it’s all about minimalism, but it’s used in larger properties too, to highlight particular features, like big windows and modern architectural details. To create this look, limit the number of pieces in each room, stick to metal and glass rather than wood and choose black, white or grey with accents of primary colours.
As mentioned above, to create a farmhouse style, choose wooden furniture and patterned soft furnishings for a cosy and comfortable, yet practical feel. Overstuffed sofas add to the comfort and your pieces should have a vintage or antique style.
Like a contemporary interior design style, a modern look has minimalistic furniture and a monochromatic colour palette. The clean lines are offset by wood and earth tones, which add a softer feel and mid-century sofas and other elements are often used to create this look.
This style is a combination of modern and traditional, meaning it’s ideal for updating older homes or adding warmth to new-builds. To incorporate this look, go for dark woods, stone and neutral colours with accents of sages, olive greens and earthy reds.
2: Don’t follow trends
While it’s helpful to take inspiration from design magazines and home improvement shows, it’s wise to bear in mind that these are often based on current trends. Remember wood-chip wallpaper, carpeted bathrooms and taxidermy? Actually, it’s probably best not to.
Unless you’re enthused about the idea of redecorating your home every couple of years, try to avoid following garish trends that may look great now but could look outdated quickly.
You have to live in this space, so focus on making it a liveable home instead of an art exhibition.
3: Make it personal
Again, it’s great to get inspiration from furniture stores and hotels you’ve visited, but remember that this is your home — not a showroom — so don’t be afraid to come up with your own ideas to develop your own personal style.
Photos of family, friends and pets don’t have to make the place look cluttered and untidy. There are many approaches you can take to display your favourite pictures in stylish and unusual ways. A gallery wall can look great in a dining room, for example, and photo tiles work especially well in transition spaces like the hallway and stairs.
When deciding on artwork and ornaments, instead of creating a mirror image of a room you’ve already seen, choose art, vases, candles and containers that you personally like or that mean something to you.
A great way to come up with your own scheme entirely is to find a cushion, painting or fabric you love and then pick out the colours in that design when buying paint and other furnishings to create your own stylish look.
4: Stick to your budget
When you move into a new house, it can be tempting to want to start from scratch and buy everything new — especially if your existing furniture and soft furnishings don’t suit your new place. But if the styles and colours aren’t working, you could recover, paint or renovate them to save money.
You can also save money by buying secondhand, from sites like eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. You may even be able to find that perfect bedside cabinet or pair of table lamps for free on a website like Freecycle.
If you do want to buy new furniture, be strategic about how you spend your money. If you decide to splurge on a one-of-a-kind coffee table that you just must have, remind yourself that you’ll have to cut back elsewhere.
Another way to reduce your redecorating costs is to replace small parts, rather than entire pieces. You’ll be surprised at how a sideboard can be completely transformed just by replacing the drawer knobs, and if you can’t afford to have a new bathroom fitted, you can change the look with quality towel rails, hooks and toilet roll holders.
5: Preparation is key
It can be a good idea to spend some time living in your new home before you start making any changes. Once you have a solid idea of exactly what you’re working with, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what will look good.
If the previous owners had garish taste, you might find it helpful to strip everything back and paint it white to make it easier to envisage your own ideas.
To see what a particular colour might look on a wall, painting and decorating apps can give a good indication but remember that digital images don’t always give a true representation, so pick up swatches and samples too.
Once you have a plan for what you need to do, draw up a timetable to encourage you to stick to your schedule and make sure you have all the tools and equipment you need before you start.
Begin with the basics, such as the flooring, lighting, switches and sockets. These involve the most upheaval, and you don’t want to have to paint a room again because you’ve just installed a new light fitting.
6: Utilise the space you have
It’s wise to measure the length and width of each room before you start designing. This is especially important if it’s an old house with an odd shape, or has cubby holes and in-built shelves. Remember to also make a note of the ceiling height and windows, and if you’re planning on bringing in large pieces of furniture, measure doors and the hallway — as well as the staircase and landing, if the room is located upstairs.
In order for your room to be functional and stylish, it’s important to think about the scale of the furniture to avoid a space that looks too bare or too cluttered.
If your house is lacking storage, consider built-in shelving units and wardrobes, or if you’re lacking space, there are lots of clever solutions, such as foldaway desks and sliding doors to small rooms that lead off narrow hallways.
7: Tackle one room at a time
The best way to make redecorating a whole house more manageable is to work on one room at a time. It’s also a great way to stay motivated. If you can clearly see your progress as each room becomes liveable, you’ll be more spurred on than you would be if everywhere you looked things were half-done.
If you’re not sure which room to start with, think about the rooms you spend the most time in and make a plan for which ones to work on when.
Once you’ve decided on a room, start decorating from the ceiling down to avoid splash marks on freshly painted walls and skirting boards. You should then paint the window and door frames, before finishing with the doors.
8: Don’t forget the garden
With so much to do inside, it can be easy to forget about redecorating any outside spaces you might have — especially in the winter.
But as your garden is part of your home, it’s important to show it the same care and attention.
Start by having a tidy up by throwing away or upcycling old furniture, weeding and mowing the lawn. This is so you can see what you’re working with.
Pots and planters are a great way to add colour, as are garden ornaments, cushions and throws. Stringing up fairy lights or illuminating pathways with spike lights can make your garden a useable space when the sun goes down too. Be careful not to overcrowd the space, though, especially if you have a small garden or balcony.
As with the interior, use your space wisely and think carefully about where you want things to go. For example, before you build a greenhouse or shed, assess whether it will be blocking sunlight to plants and trees.
9: View your home as a work in progress
To ease the pressure you may be piling on yourself, you might find it helpful to think about your home as a work in progress.
The more time you spend in your house, the more you’ll know what home improvements you need to do to make it better. You might have a change of heart about how you want a particular room to look a few months down the line, so don’t feel you have to rush to get everything perfect straight away.