10 tips when designing your new home

I haven’t experienced the sensation of purchasing a home yet, but I do know the excitement of moving into a clean slate. 

I have moved across the country 3 times and I have helped friends who have moved to various states for the last 10 years. And it can be really overwhelming. Looking around, trying to figure out what should stay and what can work in the new layout. 

I want to help guide you through 10 things to think about when you just move into a new home (or rental ;).

1. Placement of the sofa isn't necessarily dependent on the windows and the TV.

Photo courtesy of Inspired by Charm

Photo courtesy of Inspired by Charm

Let’s be honest. The TV does play a role in your home. It may not be a big role, but for most of America it does. That being said, you don’t have to have the TV over the mantle.

Like this above design by Michael Wurm Jr., you can have the whole room arranged so that the TV is usable but not the main focus of the room. You can also put your sofa in front of windows.

If the best circulation of a room makes you put the sofa on the wall of windows, that’s okay. The key to the sofa placement is how you move through the room (and making sure you don’t strain your neck by watching TV).

2. Circulation can make or break you

Circulation is a another way of saying how you get from point A to point B. You want to make sure if you are walking through your living room to get to the kitchen, you don’t have to weave in and out of a ton of stuff to get there.

The goal is to actually have a clear path. That looks like having space between the sofa and the side chairs for someone to walk between them. It also looks like being intentional about the orientation of the dining room table so that you can walk past it instead of around it every time you want to get into the kitchen.

If it’s hard to get from room to room, you will start feeling frustrated and you won’t enjoying actually being at home (the total opposite of what we’re going for right?!)

3. A well organized kitchen, bathroom and closet is worth investing in

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Like everything else, storage can definitely change from place to place. In my current home, I don’t have a pantry. Instead I use an Ikea bookcase with doors next to my fridge.

And I have learned that if you don’t have the proper organization in place, you forget you have stuff or never use things because they are hard to get to. Or you spend twice as long hunting for through your kitchen drawer because you know you own a meat thermometer!

And you feel like you are living in clutter when really things just need to be reorganized. So many stores have organizing solutions, and it’s worth spending the money on it. But make sure that it’s what you need and not a make shift solution.

A small shelf in your closet won’t make as big of a difference as five bins and an over the door shoe holder would. I promise- you won’t regret it.

4. Don’t be scared to give it away or sell it

Every time I have moved there is always a piece of furniture, bookcase or something minor that doesn’t seem to fit with the new place I’m in. And there is always a part of me that wants to keep it to see if I find a home for it somewhere else.

I’m all about repurposing pieces. But I’m not going to encourage you to keep something that you don’t need and doesn’t have any meaning to you. Give yourself a month or two to get settled and then if you don’t need those shelves you had in your last place, get rid of them.

If those barstools that once fit great in the corner of your last place don’t have a home, don’t keep them. If you get in the habit of hanging on, you will find that you hang on to it for longer than you think and 2 years later you give it away/sell it. You could have used that real estate much sooner.

5. When you walk into your bedroom, you want it to feel as big as possible.

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Kaehler Design

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Kaehler Design

Duh, right? Well, sometimes that can be tricky. It all starts with the bed's placement. My first suggestion would be to put your bed on the wall opposite the door that you come in (even if it’s against a window).

But, if your bedroom is really long and skinny, then it might work best to put it at the short end. That way you have uninterrupted space and then the bed. Instead of floor space, bed, floor space. If it’s a funky shape, don’t be scared to get creative. The main thing is that it's the focal point but also not “in the way”.

6. Invest in the important stuff

What is important stuff? I would say the things to invest in are the things that you will use/see every single day and you want to hold up longer than 3+ years.

If you had to ask me my top three it would your sofa, your dressers, and your art. In particular, your art should ideally last you decades and potentially be passed down. The pieces that you want to use all the time will break down quicker if they aren’t made well. 

Unfortunately, It’s just the nature of how furniture is made these days. So if you invest in these items now, you will get a much longer use out of them (if you want to learn more about the importance of art, I talk about it here).

7. Mirrors work wonders

Photo courtesy of Southern Living

Photo courtesy of Southern Living

Mirrors are a great trick to reflect light into a room and make a room feel bigger. The key is placement. You want to think about where the windows are and then how to reflect the most light into the room.

Or, in the case of this photo, how to make a space feel bigger. In rooms that are rectangular, if you put a mirror on the shorter sides of the room, it makes it appear wider. Some other places that mirrors are always helpful are in an entry (so you can check your shirt to make sure nothing spilled on it last time you checked) and in a dining room (so it can reflect more light from your light fixture).

8. Upgrading on details can add up

Do you ever walk into a bathroom and look at the brass/cream knobs and think “These used to be in style?”. All the little details of a room can make a difference in how you feel. Here is short list of items I recommend replacing over time (or all at once if you can!) that will make you feel a TON better:

  • knobs on cabinet doors
  • light switch plates (and even the switches themselves) 
  • door knobs
  • mini blinds (something better than the cheap metal kind) 
  • ugly light fixtures
  • ugly faucets

9. Lighting is key

Photo courtesy of Coco + Kelly

Photo courtesy of Coco + Kelly

Does your new place have overhead lighting? Lighting can change so much from place to place. In your last place you might have needed 4 different lamps because you didn’t have a lot of windows and no overhead lighting.

But in this new spot, you have two windows in each room and you don’t know what you should do (or this could be where you came from and not what you have now). When thinking about lighting, the question to ask is “How much light do I need at night” and then use that answer as your guideline.

If you don’t have overhead lighting, then an extra lamp wouldn’t be a bad thing (3-4). If you have overhead lighting, then 2-3 lamps should be plenty. And variety is great! An uneven number of types of lamps usually look the best in a room (One floor lamp, 2-3 table lamps or 2 floor lamps and 1-2 table lamp).

10. Home should feel like home

There are always things about a new place that you're excited about. Whether it’s an arched doorway, hardwood floors or a patio on the back- anything that makes you happy. Then there are things that aren’t your favorite (like the weird thing they installed in the bathroom to hold towels).

Know that over time, as you get to make your mark on your new place and replace, update and purge, it will start to feel like home. The more your stuff fills and inhabits the rooms, and the more you get to create the space you want, it will be where you belong.

With memories that will be just as valuable as the ones made in your last home. So don't fret if it doesn't feel like that in the beginning. It will get there. 

Have you recently moved? If so, what were your biggest challenges in designing your new place?