Friday 12 February 2016

things I wish I'd known when I started doing up my house

                                diy decorating tips for new homeowners

First of all, let me just say congratulations! Buying a house is a big step, and whether you have already moved in to your little piece of paradise or have just made the decision to start looking, it's a big step to take and I commend you.

If you've read the "about me" section of this blog you'll know that my path to house-ownership was far from a smooth one. Sometimes no matter how prepared you are things just don't go to plan (i.e. sellers can be absolute d*cks) and you find yourself gigantically pregnant a year after you thought you'd be in your new house, sneaking past the bank backwards lest your mortgage adviser behold your gravid state and retract your mortgage offer and desperately making bids on anything that even comes close to meeting some of your criteria! "Hey, who needs windows anyway? I personally don't even like natural light."

But thankfully, on the very first day of my maternity leave we got the keys to this place and within a week me and my gigantic bump were perched precariously on a step stool, deeply immersed in what I would wager was the most intense form of nesting ever to occur. We painted, we cleaned, I nearly went into labor in Ikea, all in the name of trying to get the place in order before sprog number two made his grand entrance....and loving every minute of it.

I can laugh about it now.......but it's a bitter, scary laugh.

diy decorating tips for new homeowners
Casa Duffy

So here I sit, after more than a year of home ownership (which makes me an expert, obv) and find myself thinking "God I wish I'd known that when we moved in" almost daily. So I thought I'd put together a little list of what I would tell a new home owner. Enjoy!

1. You do NOT have to decorate all at once.

This is probably the main one, also known as "take yo damn time!". The urge to get the whole thing finished is a strong one, and I get it. You've spent so long on the boring, stressful part of buying a home that you just want to be sitting in the home you were dreaming of and the temptation is to just do as much as possible, as quickly as possible to get it frickin' DONE and move on to just enjoying your house! But trust me, if you can hold back a bit and just do the essentials, after a couple of weeks of living in your house you will have a much better idea of how you live in it, and what you need from it. 

Also, it's worth noting that it takes a bit of time to find your style, especially if like me you've been living in apartments all your life and so have never decorated a damn thing. As the perfect reminder of this I am the proud owner of a guest bedroom with shiny wallpaper and a chandelier style overhead light which I did pretty soon after we moved in. Nothing wrong with it, but it's totally not my style and it will be re-done eventually. 

diy decorating tips for new homeowners
Bad room, bad lighting, bad weird pink sticker covering the only window courtesy of the previous owner that I can't figure out how to remove. It looks like a crime probably happened here. I must have known even at the time that it really wasn't me, cos I never even bothered finishing it.

2. You can't pick a paint colour in the shop.

You cannot. Trust me. Don't do it!!!!

There are so many colours. Soooooo many. You may think the one you are looking at in the shop is a nice warm white but then you get it home and realise it's actually green in your house. Not good. Get a tester, and once you have a tester slap it all over the room you're planning on painting and look at it for several days, at different times of day. This will save you a few hours of re-painting if nothing else.

Having said that.....

3. Paint is just paint.

It's cheap, it's not a particularly difficult job to do, so if you have your heart set on something just go for it! If you get it wrong it's not the end of the world. Life is too short to play it safe with paint.

4. You can never have too many plants.

Never. That is all. They make such a huge difference to the feel of a room that I will never stop adding to my collection. 

You can't stop me Gavin!!!

5. Don't buy a full "set" of furniture.

It may seem like an easy option but nothing dates a room faster than having everything be from the same year....or the same shop. If you have a mix of older, newer and vintage items in a room it's much more timeless, and much easier to switch out an item if you want to without having to change the whole thing. Plus, how is your house ever going to look like it's yours if you buy everything based on what the shop decided matched?

The best rooms "evolve" over time as you find bits and pieces to complement it and really find your style. I have often felt that rooms needed something for months before figuring out exactly what it was, but once I had it and the whole thing "clicked" it was amazing. So worth the wait!

6. Most things you want done in your home, you can probably do yourself.

Seriously. We had zero experience in diy of any kind before we moved into this house, we had never even painted a single wall! We thought the things we wanted done didn't sound too challenging, but not knowing anyone else who had ever gone the diy route we played it safe and hired people.....and after watching carpet fitters we had paid good money to literally spray some glue around and stick the thing down somewhere in or around the skirting I vowed never to pay good money for something I could do myself again!  There are video tutorials for everything, and yes, you might end up deciding that what you want to do is a bit out of your league, but at least you'll know you've done your research and your money is being well spent.

diy tips new homeowners
Husband? Check. Tools? Check. Tiny helper wearing a party dress over a princess onesie? Check. The magical diy trifecta is in place, our project will surely be a successful one.
Now, don't get me wrong, if I had unlimited funds I would absolutely hire someone to do all this stuff for me (at least while the monsters are small and attempt to thwart my every move, it would be nice to occasionally get something done when I actually wanted it!) but if you're broke like me then don't let that discourage you! With a bit of research and some patience you'll be amazed what you can do.

8. Art doesn't have to be expensive....or the same as everyone else's.

Make your own! Who says you're not an artist? Buy a cheap canvas in a pound shop and got to town. Release your inner Jackson Pollack. Use colors that complement your room and you can't really go wrong.

diy decorating tips for new homeowners
I made this in five minutes with a sharpie. See how I did it here.

If you have some money to spend on art and you want something a bit different then Society 6 has an amazing selection and the prices are great.

9. Charity shops are awesome!

Yes, they often don't have anything of interest, and yes, you may find yourself in a tug of war with a pensioner, but if you call in every time you pass you'll be surprised at the gems you find. My sideboard was €50, my dining table was €30, and both are pieces that stop my home being a full on Ikea-fest and give it a bit of interest. I also have many, MANY, mirrors, frames, candlesticks etc. that go a long way to making my home look special that I paid peanuts for in charity shops. Plus, you're recycling and giving older pieces a loving new home, win!

                             diy decorating tips for new homeowners

10. Decorate for YOU.

Goes without saying, but do what you want in your own home. Even if people think you're crazy, even if YOU think you might be crazy, do what makes you happy. You're the one who has to look at it every day!

11. Don't be afraid to ruin something you hate.

I can't count the number of times someone told me they hated something in their house and when I asked why they didn't paint it or something they answered "because that's good wood!" or "my granny gave it to me" or "it cost a fortune". Fml. If you hate it, change it, you will not regret it, I promise.

diy decorating tips for new homeowners
Still happy with my painted tile floor!

And finally:

12. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Hard to accept, I know, especially with all the "perfect" pictures on Pinterest and in magazines, but let me assure you, behind the carefully staged photo's and the editing is always a normal house, with all the mess and imperfection that goes with it. So go easy on yourself.

And in case you need proof, here's a picture of my utility room as it is today. This room connects the kitchen, bathroom and playroom, we use it all day every day and all guests have to walk through it to get to the loo.....and it is an absolute disaster.


diy decorating tips for new homeowners
Just like in the magazines!

Do you have any tips you'd like to share with anyone starting out in their very first home? Any nightmare house buying stories? Any ideas on how to get the bloody stupid pink sticker off the window in the spare room?!!!!! Talk to me ;)


                              diy decorating tips for new homeowners