Buying your first home is an incredibly exciting, albeit stressful and expensive time. It can also be quite overwhelming with how much you need to do, from organising internet and council tax to informing everyone of your new address and digging out your tools to take care of any DIY niggles.
However, probably the best thing about owning a home is putting your own personal stamp on it - buying new furniture, painting the walls, designing the garden, deciding on the soft furnishings - there's absolutely loads of ways you can bring your personality to your new home. But, again, there's a lot to consider, so we spoke to several interior designers, writers, property experts and general all-round decor aficionados for their one interior design tip all first time buyers should know.
Here's what they had to say...
Caroline Paterson Interiors
I would recommend a full independent survey prior to exchange on the property. If they decide to go ahead, I would have a measured survey (depending on what work needs to be done), to make sure they decide well in advance where they want to place their furniture, which will determine the position of plugs and downlights.
Caroline is an experienced London-based interior designer. Visit Caroline's website
My top design tip for first time buyers would be to wait before you start decorating. Move in, live in the space, get to know the rooms and take your time. When you have lived somewhere for a few weeks or months you can much better imagine what changes you want to make, so take your time.
Lighting can make or break a room! It can also create a huge impact and dramatically change the entire feel of a room - whether is artificial or natural. Making a concerted effort to keep windows clean and clutter free can dramatically increase the light that floods into a room - even painting window frames and window sills white can help. Many of our customers opt for garden rooms or orangeries with roof lanterns because of the sheer volume of natural light that they let in.
Have a think about lighting for different moods and occasions, or features in the home that you want to accentuate and layer your lighting to suit. Ceiling lights for cleaning or working, candle and side lamps for soft lighting for entertaining, up or down lighting to display art or photographs - the possibilities are endless! You can create a huge impact with lighting, and often for a minimal budget!
Auburn Hill design and build luxury bespoke orangeries and conservatories. Visit the Auburn Hill website
Culture South West
People often dream for many years about owning their own home and how they would design the interior, then when it comes to putting their dreams into reality they hold back. Embrace those dreams, don't hold back, go for it, this is your chance to add your own personality and tastes.
My top tip would be: Don’t rush. Spend your money on ensuring your new home is structurally sound, dry and well heated, then sit back for a while, really think about what it’s like to live in the place and work out what your priorities are. Paint the walls white until you’re sure about what colours you want where, and take your time finding just the right furnishings that will fill you with joy every time you look at them.
A home with fewer, but larger rooms will feel much more spacious and you can set up multi-task areas in some of the rooms. A good sized hallway also gives a sense of space from the moment you step indoors. A good amount of storage space is critical - think about those suitcases you use once a year, or the Christmas decorations. These things pushed under the bed can make a house feel overfull and cluttered.
Spend money fitting out your home wisely, but don't be mean. A mortgage is really a big, if somewhat relentless, savings account, so think about home decorating as rent (the cost of simply living). Select good quality pieces that have warmth and that are tactile - second hand pieces often come with the comfort worn in, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Natalie has been a successful interior designer for over 17 years. Visit Natalie's website
When furnishing your home, divide what you need into:
- Investment buys - big ticket items such as sofas that will last for years and are worth splashing out on.
- Cheap chic fillers - inexpensive pieces and accessories that can be easily upgraded as cash in the bank allows.
Rachel is the former editor of ELLE Decoration UK and has worked as a journalist for more than 20 years. Visit Rachel's website
Don’t rush into decorating or buying furniture - try living in the space for at least a week so you can see how you use different areas and at what times of day, how the light falls and how you find yourself moving around it. You might be surprised that decorating ideas you had dreamed up before moving in don’t seem to quite fit with the reality, so by holding back you can save yourself a lot of cash in the long run by avoiding any costly mistakes!
From experience, my one tip would be keep it as plain as possible with accessories to bring in colour - you'll inevitably get bored and it's much easier to swap accessories than it is wallpaper!
Natalia from British Style UK
When you buy your first property, it’s tempting to want to put your stamp on it straight away. But try and get to know the property first for 6 months or so. This will give you the chance to know how the light works with your property and what changes you can make to make the property work better for you. Think long-term interior goals rather than quick fixes – especially if your budget is tight.
My advice for decorating would be to give the walls a coat of white paint. This instantly freshens everything up, gives you a blank canvas to work with for making colour choices down the line, and it allows you to see how the light works within the property. You'll also get a better view of how your furniture works within the space without the previous owner's decor style getting in the way.
My other tip would be if you don't have a huge budget left for furnishing your new home, check out charity shops, second hand and selling pages for buying items, mix and match old with new and just update them with a lick of paint. Adding a traditional piece of furniture such as a well-made desk or side console can add character and warmth to a modern new build property.
Being able to imagine ourselves in a certain setting is an important factor in the property we end up purchasing. Spend time remembering what initially attracted you to your new home, look at the space and think about how you want to use it. And when it comes to selecting furniture, measure carefully. Resist choosing over large items as they will make your home look and feel smaller/overcrowded and will give you less options when you want to change the layout further down the line.
First time buyers should initially only buy a few basic essentials for their home. They should live in it for a few weeks before deciding how best to decorate and style it. In this way they will be able to have the time to work out exactly how they want each room to function and look.
Write a list of everything you MUST have in your new home - a spreadsheet separated out by room works best. Note down the essentials and a few items you've always dreamed about too, such as your ideal kitchen and snuggly sofa, then only compromise on the things that are not on this list. Whatever you buy, remember that you will forget about the price in a few year's time, but you will never forget about how something makes you feel. So, although things may seem costly at first, you'll never buy your first home again so splashing on a few luxury items can be justified.
Superior Surfaces design and build luxury bespoke kitchens and bathrooms.
Don’t be afraid of colour. While it’s tempting to play it safe and paint everything white, it’s amazing what a difference a splash of colour can do. If you’re worried about overpowering a room, stick to painting one wall, an alcove or chimney breast and team with crisp white skirting and woodwork. Even dramatic shades such as petrol blues, anthracite greys and charcoal blacks can add personality and depth. Quick, effective and bang on budget – it can also be easily updated when you fancy a change.
One of the biggest challenges when buying a new home is how to give it a character - your character. Many people who have just bought their first home want to have something which personifies them and reflects who they are. Usually this comes in the form of a piece of artwork or decorative piece which means something to the couple. With the majority of funds going on mortgages, painting, fixing anything that needs fixing and on making sure that you have all the basic furniture, it's important to invest in something which means something to you.
The best tip to give would be to brighten up rooms with mirrors and strategically placed pieces of artwork. The right piece of art on the wall can make all the difference and change a room from being bare to having character.
When buying your first home, it is always important that you factor in the level of light that is coming into the home. Low levels of light can result in a darker home which can lead to a lack of energy and good old fashioned Vitamin D coming into the house. A tip on bringing more light to the home is to install larger windows with fewer grids in them so it really maximises the light coming in through them.
If this is not an option, make sure that you stick to lighter, softer tones in areas of the house that don't capture light too well. Icy whites and soft beiges always work well on walls and furnishings, and you can always add a pop of green or pink with accessories to add colour where natural light is not an option.
Richard Bond of Jamie Hempsall Ltd
One of the dilemmas of owning a home is how to make your money work to your best advantage. Target your areas of investment, so that you can get the best look across the majority of your interior. Good flooring can be an expensive option and it is important to wait to make major decisions until you have appropriate cash available. This will avoid compromising on an unpopular choice you then have to live with indefinitely.
You can easily dress up your floorboards by painting them a colour using one of the many special floor paints that are available. It gives a contemporary finish and can cover the appearance of poor quality or mismatched boards. It is worth paying the extra over standard emulsion as the paint has been designed specifically for this purpose is are more hardwearing, washable and resistant to soaps, detergents and grease.