Buying your first home is exciting, and you probably already have plans for how you want to decorate it, even if you haven’t settled on a property yet.
Making an offer on your house usually means putting up earnest money to show you’re serious about purchasing, and then there are all the closing costs, down payment, and even the cost of moving to consider, too.
By the time you move in, all that money you thought you were going to have for decorating may have already been needed other places, so you’ll likely need to be thrifty about setting up house.
Here are a few tips for decorating your first home while strapped for cash.
Inventory What You Already Have
First things first: Look at what you already have.
Make a list, and in the second column, make a list of what you wish you could buy.
Now, compare the two lists and see what you already have that you can repurpose to meet your needs.
You can easily reduce the amount of money you’re spending on decorating if you find ways to use what you already have.
If something doesn’t quite work, consider changing its look with a new coat of paint or a change of hardware.
Be creative, and don’t be afraid to find alternative uses for your furniture and decor!
Avoid Impulse Buys
It’s easy to want to rush right out and buy everything you need to decorate the entire house right away but resist this impulse.
Live in your new home for a little while and get a feel for what you will need.
Most of us move into our first house with an idealized view of what we need.
Over time you may find that your actual needs differ from what you imagined, so going on a shopping spree too early could mean wasting money on things you won’t use.
Instead, live in your home for a little while and keep a running wish list, editing it as you get a better feel for your needs.
Prioritize Your Purchases
Even if you do a good job of using what you already have, and even if you delay making purchases until you see what you still need, chances are you’ll find there are some things you still need to buy.
As you make that wish list we spoke of in the last section, be sure to consider how important each thing is.
Keeping an electronic list is a good idea so that you can reorder or tag items to indicate the priority level.
Buy Things One at a Time
Even when you feel fairly certain you’ve compiled a conservative list, and there’s no reason to buy everything at once.
That’s the biggest reason for prioritizing your list: so that you can buy what you need a little at a time, as budget dictates.
Putting the most important things at the top of the list allows you to reserve your budget for the items that will impact your life the most, such as kitchen upgrades if you cook a lot or insulating window treatments for greater comfort and lower energy bills.
Don’t Get Conned by Matching Sets
Furniture stores love to sell you on the idea of matching furniture sets since it gets you to spend more money replacing otherwise perfectly good furniture.
Don’t be fooled! You don’t have to have everything looking exactly alike for your decor to look good.
Not even the wood needs to be stained the same color.
Instead, pull it all together with a single theme that unites everything.
For instance, you can pick up a color that can be found in just one piece by adding throw blankets, pillows, rugs, and curtains, or tie together completely mismatched pieces by sticking to an overall style such as mid-century modern.
Imagine Creative Solutions
When you’re trying to save money and still make your new home look great, your creativity can be your greatest asset.
Instead of buying ready-made decor at astronomical prices, find ways to put your imagination to work instead of your wallet.
For instance, instead of expensive kitchen upgrades, opt for a fresh coat of paint and a new set of hardware.
Other ideas include repainting furniture, buying new pillow covers instead of new pillows, and repurposing pieces by moving them to a different room or using them differently.
There are a lot of gently used household items on the secondhand market, many of them available for substantial savings over new prices.
New furniture is like a new car, losing value as soon as you sit down in it for the first time.
Instead, look for what you need from the thrift stores and secondhand marketplaces online.
Keep an open mind as you shop, and look for ways to rework items to fit your needs, such as with a fresh coat of paint.
If you have something specific in mind, it may take some time to find exactly what you’re looking for, but a little patience can still pay off and save you some money.
Live the Dream… For Less
The expense of buying your first home may mean a nearly nonexistent decorating budget, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be relegated to sitting on milk crates and eating TV dinners from your lap.
Once you start looking for ways to save money on decorating, you’ll be surprised at how much you can do with very little funding!