The Best Advice for Setting Up Your New Home? Pace Yourself. Here’s How.
Like all things in life, setting up your new home is more manageable if you break it down into steps and prioritize what needs to get done right away, and what can (or even should) wait. For advice on both, we talked to Shira Gill, home organizing expert and author of Minimalista, professional organizer Ioana Galdau of Westchester, New York’s Sleek Living NY, and Jennifer Verruto, founder and CEO of San Diego’s Blythe Interiors.
Do: Start with a deep clean.
Before unpacking, before painting, before anything really, the first thing you should do is clean your home. After all, putting clean clothes in a dirty closet doesn’t make any sense.
Do: Unpack everything (but not everywhere or all at once).
To tame the chaos as you unpack, Galdau recommends putting boxes in the room where they belong, then going through five to 10 boxes a day. Once you open a box, empty it completely.
Do: Declutter (again).
Even if you thought you were ruthless with your decluttering at your old place, you may find you still have too much stuff. Gill’s advice? “Honor the boundaries of the space you have, not the space you want.” For example: How many pairs of shoes will actually fit in the entry closet? That’s the number that should be there. Everything else should be donated or put in the trash.
Do: Reimagine the “junk drawer.”
Gill recommends being intentional about the space that holds all those essential things one inevitably needs in life: scissors, tape, highlighters, Sharpies. She designates a “general store” spot in her home—this might be a drawer, a closet shelf, or something else—so that she (and everyone else she lives with) knows where to find them when needed.
Do: Draft a design budget and a timeline.
Now that you’ve got your space neat and tidy, you’re ready to think about decorating your new space. Even if your home is a 10, chances are you’ll want to invest some time and money into making it even more perfect. Maybe there’s a room you want to paint or a sofa that is made for your new den. Whatever the case, Verruto recommends establishing some financial guardrails and a timeline.
Don’t: Install window treatments.
You may think of window treatments as one of the first decorating tasks to tick off your to-do list, but Jaret Nichols, co-owner and founder of TBES, warns against rushing for a number of reasons. A big one is the cost. “It’s an expensive investment,” he says, which means, “it’s a good idea to make sure it’s a valuable investment.”
You’ll also get a better sense of what you need from your window treatments after living in your home for a while. “Live in the house and see how the light is coming in during the day; see if there is an issue with privacy,” he advises. “Is there a nice view that you want to be able to see? You might find out that you have a heat problem or there’s a bedroom you want a little darker.”
For a temporary solution while you’re figuring out what you need, he recommends paper blinds.
Don’t: Buy new appliances.
This is especially true if you think there might be a kitchen renovation of any kind in your future. “If you want to remodel and hire a designer and you’ve already pre-designed the space, they’re stuck designing around your new appliance,” says Verruto.
Don’t: Make cosmetic exterior improvements.
Verruto advises waiting on exterior projects such as landscaping or painting until after you’ve settled in. “It’s more important to make the inside feel like home than out,” she says.
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