5 Ways to Make a Fresh Start in an Old Home

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This month we'll have lived in our house exactly 2 years, but I'd be hard-pressed to say it's anywhere near set up. After some initial enthusiastic improvements when we first moved in, we've pretty much left things as they are. But it took some time living in and using our home to really decide what we wanted to do, and now it's time to find the motivation to really tackle updating the space.

Setting up a home you've been living in for awhile isn't so different than getting started in a new space, but it can require an extra jolt of inspiration.

1. Make a List. The key to getting started on any project is to figure out exactly what needs to get done. Go through your whole house and make a master list of home to-do's, wants, needs, and dreams. Getting it all down on paper will help you plan, organize, and make a budget for what needs to get done.

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2. Define (or Re-define) your Style. Your style may have changed since you've lived in your space — tastes evolve as we get older, move to new places, live with new people and defining what that style is can be the key to making changes at home. Create a pool of images of spaces and things you love that start to define your aesthetic.

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3. Sell (or Donate) Something. Living with things doesn't always mean loving them. I moved from two early 19th century apartments with soaring ceilings and ornamental details to a low-ceilinged mid-century white box and found myself with a few pieces that just didn't work no matter how hard I tried. Getting rid of something things can be difficult when you're using it every day or when you're keeping them for sentimental reasons, but rewarding when you are making room for something new that you'll really love.

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4. Buy, Refurbish, or Re-upholster something. Whether you splurge on something special, re-invigorate something you have, or get a great deal on a unique eBay find, adding a new element to your home will help you look at the space with fresh eyes.

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5. Ask for help. The biggest reason I've let a few projects languish is that I honestly just didn't know what to do to get started. Consulting with and architect, interior designer, or even design-savvy friends can often get you the info and opinions you need a whole lot faster than hours of internet research — not that research is so bad, but having someone to bounce thoughts, questions, and ideas off of always helps me get my butt in gear.

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Image: Sarah Rainwater