The First Thing You Should Buy for Your New Home, According to Interior Designers

published Feb 12, 2020
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Moving to a new space isn’t easy—you’re unpacking and sorting through boxes, trying to determine which of your former furnishings will fit in your new place and which will need to be replaced. Once things have calmed down a bit, you’ll likely want to spring for some new decorative accessories, accent pieces, or maybe even a big ticket item like a new mattress. But where to start? We spoke with five interior designers to gather their opinions on what to buy first when settling into a new space, and here’s what they had to say.

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Furnish Your Living Room With New Essentials

Los Angeles-based designer Anne Carr advises investing in a high quality, comfortable sofa. “Sofas can last forever if they’re good quality, and they can be re-covered when styles change,” says Carr. She’s also a proponent of a good rug, which always makes a room look finished and cuts down on noise. Given that some rental buildings have rules about how much floor space must be kept covered, a rug may very well be at the top of your list! When in doubt, a bigger rug is often your best bet, notes Ginger Curtis, owner and lead designer of Urbanology Designs. “A lot of people make the mistake of getting an 8-foot by 10-foot rug when their room really needs a larger one to ground the space,” says Curtis.  

Like to entertain and need to hold onto your current sofa for budget or practicality reasons? A club chair is a great secondary pick, according to Carr, since it can breathe new life into your former living room furniture setup. And don’t shy away from custom pieces if you’re so inclined, notes Curtis. “Something well-made, special, and designed to fit your home perfectly can go a very long way,” she says.

Credit: Minette Hand

Make Your Space More “You” With Art

A house might not feel like a home if it’s void of color and charisma, so go ahead and think beyond just the functional pieces. “Whether it’s fun and whimsical or moody and dramatic, artwork is not only a great way to style or decorate your home, but it also can reflect your fun and unique personality,” says Curtis. “I personally love portrait paintings! Artfully Walls is a great place to source artwork and see how it will scale in your space. Antique malls and thrift stores are other great places to score something special.”

While artwork doesn’t always come cheap, there’s never a need to shell out major cash until you’re absolutely ready. “Even if it’s your first home, it’s great to start your collection early on,” says designer Michelle Gage of Michelle Gage Interiors. “You can acquire new pieces as the years go by, but it’s best to start sooner rather than later.” For starter homes, try shopping affordable prints on Etsy, Society 6, or Minted.

Credit: Viv Yapp

Get Your Kitchen Up and Running

A high-traffic space like the kitchen is another area you may be inclined to tackle right away. But what to purchase first? Focus on swapping out those builder grade finishes with new overhead lighting and cabinetry hardware. “Where budget is an issue, I would say pendants and barstools,” recommends designer Yvonne Christensen. “These will 100 percent give your kitchen a finished feeling, and the kitchen is where most of my clients say they spend most of their time as a family, so it’s worth investing there.” Plus, according to Christensen, your bar stool style can really set the tone for the rest of your room’s look because they are such a focal point, if you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen island.

Start Off On An Organized Foot

To avoid chaos down the line, you’ll want to keep clutter under control right off the bat. “For a first home or even for your existing home, home organization tools are a must,” says designer Victoria Holly of Victoria Holly Interiors. “You may find when unpacking for a new home or just going about the day-to-day in your current home, there’s always that ‘junk drawer’ with batteries, or the laundry room is just a collection of unorganized cleaning products.”

This is where baskets, bins, and other receptacles are key, Holly explains. “Our advice when it comes to storage pieces is to keep it simple and clean,” she adds, noting that options like acrylic or white wooden bins are always a solid choice. “When you start in your new home with storage solutions, it makes unpacking way easier and a little less miserable,” says Holly. “You can now go through boxes quickly and easily because you have a container to hold random cords and a place in mind to put a given object.”