by Dorothy Carter July 21, 2021 7 min read

Moving into a new home means you’re starting afresh, but it also means you get a blank canvas to fill how you wish. Whether you’re a completely new player in the game or have dabbled in home design before, today, you are a designer who gets to make their new residence a comfy and happy home. And so, for the DIYer in you, here are some tips to help you decorate your new home from scratch.

1. Know your measurements

You probably can’t wait until you start bringing in the furniture and decorative items to amp the space up.  However, decorating your new abode from ground zero never starts in a furniture store. Yes, you may have an empty home, and yes, you do need a sofa. But panic shopping is the same thing as making a grocery run when you’re hungry – both lead to poor choices. A much better place to start would be the room you are looking to furnish, armed with a pen, a measuring tape, and a notepad.

Most folks make the mistake of skipping this step, so they end up with a deep sectional sofa that overpowers a small room or doesn’t fit through doorways, tables that are too small, or svelte chairs that get lost in a wide-open loft. Carefully measuring your space before you start designing can help avoid such problems.

  • Entries, passages, and doorways. Make sure that you have the accurate height, width, and diagonal width, and make a note of any railings, light fixtures, or any architectural impediments along the way.
  • Rooms. Continue by measuring the length from the entrance point of the room to the far wall to inform whether you’ll be able to bring the furniture into the room and maneuver it easily before you place it. Second, measure the length, width, and height of the room.
  • Measure all radiators, windows, fireplaces, or any other architectural features. For windows, you should measure the height from the floor, its width, and total height.

2. Create a floorplan

MAN CREATING A FLOOR PLAN

Now that you have all the measurements of the rooms, time is ripe to put them to use. A floor plan will give you a bird's-eye view of your home and help you get to know the space a little better. You can either decide to do this the old-fashioned way, by drawing a floor plan manually or test out drafting software, such as AutoCAD, a method professional designers use. Also, there are various apps that help homeowners create simple floor plans, such as Floor Plan Creator, Magicplan, and RoomScan Pro.

Caption: Creating a floor plan will help you organize the furniture and visualize the flow of the place.
Alt-text: Man creating a floor plan.

An accurate outline of the space will allow you to experiment with the placement of furniture. However, make sure that the footprint of each furniture piece is scaled to match the size of your drawing.

3. Discover your style

Due to a barrage of beautiful rooms bombarding us from every corner these days, many people have a hard time pinning down their personal decorating style. They're spoiled for choice and torn by the many directions to go in, and it's tough to choose just one room to recreate when you want to live in every single one of them. Yet, in order to reach the finish line, you first need to know where you're going, and learning what makes your heart sing is the key.

Finding your design style needn’t at all be a difficult or tedious process, though:

  • Fish for inspo. Start scrolling through social media, flicking through design books and magazines, watching home design and décor shows for some inspiration.
  • Save a bunch of images. Pinterest, for instance, lets you "pin" or virtually collect ideas you like for your project. Mind that, with so many gorgeous rooms popping up left and right, it may be hard to pinpoint just one specific design style that speaks to you. Yet, you need not worry about that just yet. Instead, pin a bunch of images (15-20 at least) of rooms you fall in love with.
  • Study the details.Start looking for common elements. This will help inform everything from the kind of furniture you might like to a potential strategy for your window coverings. Also, study where solids are used versus where patterns are used, decide if color can be used successfully in a specific room or not, etc.
  • Note to which of the major styles you gravitate. The best interior designers rarely stick to one style so, no worries if you gravitate to two or more.
  • Think about the look and feel of your space. Start brainstorming words to describe your space. Examples might include: timeless, classic, relaxing, glamorous, rich, sophisticated, laid-back, etc.
  • Tie everything together. Pick your favorite elements from the photos that tie into the look.

Consider your lifestyle

Decorating a completely new and empty home provides a white canvas you can adjust to your liking. Here are some questions that need answering:

  • Is your home a family home? If you have small children in your home, having light colors and delicate objects around children is not ideal.
  • Do you regularly host gatherings? Home décor for someone who eats out every night or crashes in front of a TV with a pizza and someone who regularly hosts lavish dinner parties or fundraisers will differ significantly.
  • Do you have pets? Mucky paws and sharp teeth don’t go well with carpets and white, expensive sofas.
  • Do you want to incorporate a theme? If you like a cohesive and modern look, consider setting a color scheme or theme around your home before you go out and buy the furniture and accessories.
  • How would you like to live in a given space? Think of the desired lifestyle and decorate according to your ambitions. Do you consider yourself as a person who enjoys the finer things in life? If yes, you might want to include this in your home décor. You can include small ornaments, plants, mirrors, wall art, candles and decorative glassware, etc.
  • Have you thought about your routines? It’s important to design according to your routine. For instance, if you’re someone who likes to just drop everything when you walk in, or sit down when tying your laces, plan your entryway accordingly.

4. Develop a budget

AN IMAGE OF MONEY AND A PEN FROM ABOVE

Math – there’s no getting around it: Splurging on an unexpectedly expensive chair will leave you with less money available for the rest of the house. And let’s not forget – you are supposed to decorate your new home from scratch, after all. Budgeting is the best way to be strategic about how you spend your money because it gives you a roadmap for dividing the costs of things between rooms or deciding on your priorities.

Caption: Plan how you will spend your money.
Alt-text: An image of money and a pen from above.

5. Take advantage of the expert knowledge

Even if you are confident in your designing skills, there are certain things that only professionals will know. For instance, many folks get frustrated when they are not able to communicate with their contractor well, particularly if there is larger construction work going on (such as decorating the interior of a new house from the ground up). You may even take advantage of the free design service that many stores offer. They employ design professionals to help their customers make the right choice.

But taking advantage of expert knowledge goes further than coming up with a design. Once you decide on that perfect piece of furniture, you want to make sure everything arrives at your home safe and sound, especially if you are not buying locally. Also, if you want some of your old furniture delivered to the new residence, but your new and your old home are in two different cities or states, it's best to hire long-distance moving experts that can handle the transfer safely.

5. Select a color scheme

A BEAUTIFUL BEDROOM DECORATED IN NEUTRAL HUES

If only deciding on a color scheme for your interiors was that easy. No worries, help is on the way! Here are some options:

  • Let the largest pattern in the space inspire you. If you’ve already chosen patterned upholstery, a large piece of artwork, or a colorful rug, pluck colors you like from that pattern.
  • Decorate from dark to light - vertically.Use darker hues for floors, medium color values for your walls, and light values for the ceilings.
  • Go back to black. Expert designers recommend adding a pinch of black in every room to clarify the rest of the room’s colors.
  • Pull one color from the formal areas of the house. If you struggle with picking a color palette for your home, experts advise starting with the living room, dining room, and entryway. If you decorate those areas first, you can pull one color from the scheme and use it for an accent in one of the more private spaces (office, den, bedroom, etc.).
  • You can’t go wrong with grays. Grey is today’s trendiest neutral, primarily because its chameleon-like quality allows it to appear either cool or warm and pair effortlessly with both pastels or kicky colors such as hot pink.
  • Use the 60-30-10 rule. The 60% is your dominant color (walls), 30% is a secondary color (upholstery), and 10% is an accent color (accessories). Works every time!
  • Rock monochromatic. Let your favorite color have a spotlight in one of the smaller spaces in your home, such as your bathroom. Then, balance with white walls and floors so that the saturated shade is not overpowering but still eye-catching.
  • Follow the rule of three. Limit your color palette to three colors only. It’s a can’t-miss strategy for any space.
  • Rely on the timeless duo. Black and white is a pairing that never goes out of style. Make your color story even more compelling with a metallic gold accent.

Caption: When it comes to picking out a color palette for your new abode, you’ve got loads of options.
Alt-text: A beautiful bedroom decorated in neutral hues.

6. Layer each room, over time

Decorating your home may be a marathon, but it’s certainly not a sprint. Each day you spend in your new residence, you get to know it a bit better, and new ideas on how you want a room to feel, look, and function may arise over time. The element’s you will want to address over time are:

  • Splashes of accent color
  • Flooring/carpets
  • Storage/organization
  • Accent tables
  • Lighting
  • Textiles like pillows and throws
  • Wall art
  • Window treatments

Once you start to decorate your new home from scratch, it may be tempting to get it all done at once. Make sure to resist the urge. Take time to lay the groundwork, devise a budget, decide on the style and your color scheme, and your new home will look perfectly put together in an instant.