How To: Deal With a New Home Nightmare

Most of us have experienced a less than desirable living situation. Maybe your idealistic side convinced you that you could flip a house HGTV-style in seconds flat, or maybe you were broke and living in the best home you could afford, or maybe you just didn't have a clue about the horrors lurking beneath the surface of a decent-looking home. Having been in those scenarios more recently than not, I know that feeling stuck in a new home that is hideously ugly or offensively unclean is no fun. Here's how to deal...

Track Your Progress. You may think that you will not care to remember the way your home looked when you moved in, but taking "before pictures" can be an excellent pick-me-up when you've been slaving away and still feeling like you're getting nowhere. Looking back at the before pictures from our previous home makes me feel like a superhero...which is exactly the way I needed to feel while we went about turning a trashed former meth lab into a family home. Plus, who doesn't like a good laugh?

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picture from our new home's modest galley kitchen makeover

Purge, Clean, Prep, Paint, Unpack, and then Buy — in that order!
Being very visual and very impatient, my instinct is always to paint first, buy second, and then eventually get around to purging and cleaning. I always do it, it's always a big mistake — don't do it! The only variation that I consider fail-safe is switching the order of the unpacking and painting. I've found it easier to wait to unpack until all the walls are painted, but others may find it helpful to unpack first so that they can see how their belongings look in a room before committing to a color for the walls.

PURGING No matter how meticulous we thought we were being when packing up our boxes, we always hold on to more than we think. Spare yourself a future headache, and purge whatever you don't need before it finds a spot in our new home.
CLEANINGStart with the bathroom, the kitchen, and the bedroom. A clean shower is a luxury, and you'll be needing just that after a day of slaving away on the new home. The faster I have a functional kitchen, the faster I feel at home. In my own experience, it's easy to neglect the bedroom. It's where we end up stashing unpacked boxes and piles of tools while we focus on other areas of the home like the living room. However, a decent night sleep is priceless, especially if you're hoping to avoid a burn out. Spend enough time scrubbing down your room and setting up the basics (a bed!). The other rooms can wait while you prepare these key spaces.
PAINTING You weren't born yesterday, so you know the transformative power of paint, but before you set about meticulously bringing new life to your walls make sure you test the paint color in all possible lights. The green that looks earthy and serene in daylight might look garish and institutional under artificial lighting at night. I like to test in a 2'x2' patch near each source of light (a window, next to a floor lamp, etc.) and live with it for at least a day to make sure I really like it.

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BUYING Don't be afraid to live sparsely for as long as it takes to find pieces that you really love not that just fill up space. In my experience, buying is actually the step that makes the least amount of impact in transforming the house from hell into a dream home. It isn't always easy, but it pays to take your time!

Make a List of What you Need to Purchase. This seems way too obvious, but for those overwhelmed with the process of setting up a new home — particularly one that's in disrepair — it's easy to go out and buy the first new, shiny decor item you see. In the long run, it will most likely only add to your problems. First, make a detailed list of what you think you need for the home. Then look it over, and put a check next to the things that you actually need now to differentiate them from those items that can wait. Sure you want it all and you want it all now, but would you really rather have a bed to sleep on or a new TV?

What has helped you through your new home nightmares?

(Images: 1,2 Leah Moss, 3 via Isuwannee)

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