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Setting up your very own first home is hardly easy. A common mistake is to think of your dream house instead of building the idea step by step. This might sound annoying. But it’s the safe way to actually set up the home you dream of and without wasting money. Even if you spend a lot on some stuff, it will be a conscious choice and not a decision under the ‘got-to-get-everything-in-one-day” influence.
Getting ready to set up a new home is not a walk in the park whether you are in your 20s or 40s. It takes good planning so that your stress levels won’t go sky high. It can actually be a very joyful period as long as you have a checklist of all the things you will need (emphasis given on the word ‘need’) and are aware of your budget.
The pre-moving period
Let me have your attention, please. This is the most important period of the new home setup. It’s the time where you take all crucial decisions and the opportunity to allocate your budget among months so that you won’t go broke all of a sudden.
Always remember that there are small and big things in a household. No doubt most of them are crucial too. And you will definitely have to give priorities. BUT… pause for a moment. If you think having forks in the house is a trivial matter, think again. What I am trying to say is that you should start gathering the small ‘guys’ first. There are literally hundreds (at the very least) small items in each house. You can’t really think about everything in a day or two. When you start making plans, you will find new stuff coming to mind and thus the urge to keep adding new items to your checklist. Do that! One more thing: it takes a long time to get all the small things unless you have no budget limitations. The smart way to proceed is to write (and keep adding) all the essentials you need in your must-buy list and start buying them.
Go back to our favorite word in the article: “need”. This is not the time to go on a shopping spree. When you think big of your house, think small first. The things you want have no ending (never will). The things you really need are limited to small or big lists but at one point you will have what you need to set up the new home.
What’s essential in the kitchen?
- Pots of 2-3 different sizes
- 2-3 kitchen towels
- Salt & pepper shakers or grinders
- Cooking utensils
- Oven gloves
- Frying pan
- Can opener
- A couple of bowls
- Wooden board
- Serving dishes
- Garbage bin
I mean, you might get in the temptation of buying a fruit peeler. But why should you? A knife can do the job. I know what you are thinking right now. There is so much stuff to buy. Will the peeler make all the difference to the budget? No objections here and you should feel free to get the things you believe necessary for your everyday living. But don’t forget that a fruit peeler here and an apron there and you will see your must-buy list growing faster than your fingernails.
Let’s step into the bathroom…
- Towel hooks – rack
- Shower curtain & rings
- Bathroom mat
- Toilet brush
- Toilet paper
- Soap dish
- Toothbrush holder
- Plunger (I don’t go anywhere without it)
Get some tools for the house. What’s very useful is a flashlight. What’s also important is having batteries. And a ladder. Your tools should include a hammer, pliers, and a couple of screwdrivers along with screws and nails. Don’t forget to get a measuring tape and a couple of plug socket extensions too. They always come in handy. Last but not least, buy an iron, an ironing board, and a laundry basket.
As you probably noticed, we focused on main equipment. As a matter of fact, when you move in and tidy up these things, you will feel like a Spartan. The house will be empty although you have spent some money on your essentials. That’s because these things are small and hidden inside drawers and closets. That’s alright. Don’t give it a second thought!
Let’s get to the heavy-duty stuff
That’s the big items, like beds and sofas. Don’t get those before you find the new house. It’s always wise to know the exact space you have in order to get furniture (of all sorts) that will fit right in without getting in your way. But since you need to make budget arrangements and check out clearances and offers till the time comes, what you must get includes:
- Bed & mattress
- Bedside tables & lamps
- Duvet, cover, and sheets
- Coffee table
- TV and table
- Lighting fixtures & lamps
- Dinner table & chairs
These items are your priorities. You will eventually need more tables here and there and definitely a second couch or armchairs. But don’t get them all at once unless you are sure about your choices. Don’t get carried away from a good bargain. Welcome furniture that belonged to relatives! A nice antique that featured in your grandma’s house all these years might give a special vintage elegance to the house. But never accept or buy furniture that you don’t fall in love with. Don’t forget that furniture occupies lots of space and has a tendency of sticking with you for years.
With that said, consider this:
Bring a personal touch to your home
You might be advised to get a professional decorator. Or you might get offers from friends and relatives to help you out with home décor ideas, colors, furniture – you get my meaning. Always welcome new ideas but never implement them unless they meet your standards and personal taste. What’s a beautiful home to me might be indifferent to you. And you know what they say about opinions… everyone’s got one. Stick to yours! Even if you are young and inexperienced, choose stuff that you like. In this case, it’s a good idea to take advice from people who have already been there about practical matters – how big the sofa, which wood for the table, how many chairs etc.
Soooo, when you visit a flea market for better bargains or find great offers, don’t buy a couch just because it seems to be a good deal. Buy it ONLY if you love it! No like it. LOVE it!
Speaking of furniture and their tendency to stick with you nearly forever, our advice is this: if you are willing to spend some money on stuff, give more for furniture than the small stuff. The latter can be replaced in a heartbeat. But a bed or table will stay with you for years. So, it’s worth paying more for a high-class dinner table, or an antique, or a modern chaise long.
So far so good! But how about the actual house!
Is it yours or a rental?
This will make a great difference to your decisions! If you are planning to rent a place, you just want it to be neat and all you will have to do is buy the small stuff. When it comes to furniture, the story takes a different turn. Rentals come and go. You might move to an apartment now and find yourself in a two-story house a couple of years later. Or vice versa. Since we cannot foresee our future, move on the safe side. Don’t buy expensive things, which might not fit in the next rental or might get damaged when you move. Settle with cheaper choices until the day comes when you move to your own home.
If this is going to be your own home, it might be a resale or new construction. In the case of the former, the latest owners might have left some of their stuff. Unless you really like them, don’t keep them. The new apartment, loft, studio, or house might be semi furnished, wainscoted, or equipped with appliances. Check these details to know what to keep, what to throw out, and what to get. You certainly cannot do without appliances – range, dishwasher, refrigerator, washer & dryer.
Does your new home need repairs or renovations?
Remember what we said about furniture vs small stuff? The small stuff is easily replaceable and so it’s best to focus on furnishings. Now, take this rationale and bring it to your empty new home. There are some things, which once done, cannot be changed easily. These include floors, walls, sinks, tubs, & kitchen furniture.
Focus on walls & floors. They are the most difficult to change once you move in. Once more, they are totally worth investing in. That’s once you check that the plumbing system is flawless. That’s unnegotiable. Once you make sure of that, you need to decide if you like to install wainscoting panels, wallpaper, or brick walls. If the floors are new and/or in a good condition, you don’t have to replace them unless you choose to do so. When you decide on such structural elements, always remember to keep some uniformity in the house to have balance. And it’s also essential to decide on your home style. This will be your guide for every item and furniture you get and will define the color palette in the home.
Last minute tips for the best home setup
Always measure before you buy big stuff. It’s best to have more empty spaces than crowded rooms. Your new home will definitely look empty with a couple of chairs here and a sofa there unless it’s a tiny studio. But it’s better this way. As long as you take things step by step, you will get where you headed all long in time. By this time, you will have the structural elements you like, a few but stylish furnishings, and all essentials to start your new life. This will be your base and will allow you to build it up by (still) choosing only things you consider valuable, practical, and beautiful for your home.
Our advice before moving in is to fix anything that needs fixing. What we also suggest is to take your time with everything. Always prioritize your personal needs and definitely in accordance with your budget. And one last tip: don’t leave out security matters. Even if you don’t want to install security systems from day one, check the locks. Make sure they are resistant, reliable and durable. And nobody has your key. Otherwise, rekey locks to have peace of mind along with a new home set up to your own standards.