You’ve moved into your first home. Maybe it’s a new build, clean and fresh but lacking personality. Perhaps you and your partner have bought a ‘characterful’ maisonette. Whatever it is, it’s time to turn it from someone else’s house, into your very own home.
Show off your memories
You’re not renting this house, so you can knock as many nails into the wall as you like (but do be careful: an inexpensive electrical wire detector is normally a good idea). Put up pictures, hang photos of your friends; make a to-do board for the back of the kitchen door: it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it just has to be yours. Filling your house with moments from your life is a sure fire way to make it feel like home.
Move your furniture round
From orange-boxes and charity-shop bargains to hand-me-downs and bargain buys from a charity shop, the great thing about furniture is that you can move it around. If you’ve moved into a furnished property, you don’t have to leave the furniture where it is. Turn a table, swap chairs around; spin the sofa back-to-front. Moving pictures from one room to the next makes a change from how it was.
Fill those hall-way shelves
With books you’ve read, trinkets from holidays and knick-knacks from the market anything that brings a smile to your face. It doesn’t have to be ‘kitsch’ or ‘shabby chic’ to look amazing: get your old record collection out, or the vintage plates you inherited.
There aren’t any rules about keeping pots, pans, or plates in a cupboard either. If you use it, why put it away? A much-loved, brightly coloured favourite spatula on a hook says as much about you as a vase of flowers or a potted plant.
Bring the outside in
Flower pots aren’t expensive. Chipped or cracked pots from a charity shop will do just as well for a row of fresh herbs on your windowsill. Don’t dismiss the idea of artificial flowers, either. They’re not the faux plastic petals they used to be: on the contrary, with some arrangements it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not – and artificial plants in pots are a good way to add a splash of colour into any room.
Deck the halls with something jolly
By adding sound – music – you will notice an instant difference. It doesn’t have to be a playlist either, why not try an inexpensive radio? You can play with sound too – put a radio in one room, the kitchen perhaps, and an iPod in your living room. Or even vinyl, if you want a retro feel to your living space.
Show off some colour
You don’t have to do everything at once. And it doesn’t have to be the most expensive pot of paint or roll of wallpaper when you do start decorating the walls and halls. No more magnolia: it’s your home too, so you can choose any colour you want. Feature walls are fine if you’ve only half a can; the odd roll of wallpapers from charity shops also make great feature panels if you’d like to spruce up your space on a budget. But decorating your first home isn’t all about changing colours. It’s more about making your home feel as though it’s ‘yours’, and nobody’s going to tell you off for drawing on the walls! Do you have children, growing up quickly? Choose a doorframe, make pencil marks as the centimetres fly by (it only takes a coat of gloss to cover them, if you move).
Relax (really relax)
You’re on your own now. So, although it’s tempting to whip round with the vacuum cleaner and a duster when your parents are popping over, enjoy the freedom you have to decide what goes where, when. Create a pile of books by your favourite chair on purpose; stack your DVDs in a mountain by the TV; maybe even take the airing cupboard shelves down – store towels and spare linens on an open-plan shelf in your bedroom instead.
Settling into a new home can be exciting, but daunting too. Particularly if you’ve always had the support of family and friends before. However, starting from scratch can be liberating. Whatever you do when you get the keys, don’t worry about trying to turn your new house into a home overnight.
Take time to get to know the property. See how the sun rises, which windows and rooms are warmest during the morning; compare where you put your coats and boots in the first week, to where they’re ending up naturally a month later. However you turn your house into a home, congratulate yourself on the progress you make!
Make a list – make lots of them
Even if you’re not a ‘list-maker’ usually, moving into your first home is a good time to make an exception. Write out a list of your home’s room dimensions and tuck it into your wallet. Then, when you spot a bargain, you’ll never be stuck with ‘will it fit?’