It’s a tale as old as time: we all want our decor to be done before we even move into our new place. I’m so guilty of this, I might as well be my own worst client! The truth is that the best rooms evolve over time and some things just can’t be rushed (especially with limited budget and space). Here are a few tips that will help you plan your decorating budget for your new place.
TRIAGE WHAT YOU HAVE
First, assess the furniture you already have. Determine what you want to get rid of and what you definitely want to keep long term. If you’re unsure, follow this simple rule: is it worth keeping for now until you find a better replacement? If the answer is yes, put a big fat maybe sticker on it. If it’s no, put it on Craigslist or donate it to goodwill right away. Do the same with all your accessories (lighting, trays, rugs, etc).
When you visit a new place, make sure to ask if you can take a few measurements, or if you can have access to the place before you move in. If you can get a floor plan, even better (but watch out as some don’t offer precise measurements). Here are a few important measures you might not want to forget: ceiling heights, window widths and heights, distance between window casings, doors, built-ins, fireplace, A/C units, kitchen counter height, and any nooks and crannies created by irregular rooms.
COME UP WITH A PLAN
Once you have all your measurements, find a place for the items you want to keep. Then, determine whether the items in your “maybe list” have a place in your new floor plan. Then, identify the items you’ll need to buy and separate them into two categories: what you need urgently (a bed to sleep in, a table to eat on)— and what you can buy down the road because it isn’t essential to your daily routine (bookcases, side tables, occasional chairs).
BUY THE URGENT STUFF
Chances are you already have a budget in mind for the pieces you need urgently, and you probably also have a few wish list items that you’re dying to buy. For me, it’s this West Elm marble dining table and two Blu Dot copper bar stools. As long as you’re not lusting over a $50,000 antique Persian rug, allow yourself one or two splurges per room. It’s always nice to spend a little more on a few items that will really make a statement in your home. It will also elevate the rest of the room.
For everything else, shop around for great deals—West Elm often have big promotions—the same goes for Serena & Lily. Look at clearance sections—you might just find exactly what you’re looking for. Visit your local vintage or antique shops and pick out a couple of items that will give your space character (but don’t go overboard or your place will end up looking like a yard sale).
THINK LONG TERM
While it might be tempting to fill you entire place now, but remember the best spaces evolve over time. think about what you’re spending on and how long you’ll keep those items around (if you’re renting, think short term). Take your time with non-urgent items. Come up with a monthly amount you’re willing to dedicate to finishing your decor and go through the list one by one. If you only buy items that you’re crazy about, your place will evolve organically into a space you’ll love and that represents you as a person.
WHAT’S ON MY WISH LIST
Photography by Brittany Ambridge.