5 Lessons I Learned From Decorating Our First House

5 lessons learned from decorating our first house

We're creeping up on 2 years since I moved in our house (Jordon bought the house and lived in it for a about a year before I moved in, but that doesn't count because I hadn't put my touch on it yet ;)). Time flies.

I've talked a lot before about my struggle to decorate our home in the beginning.

I was used to decorating small college apartments, so the thought of having several larger rooms to tackle was exciting, yet complicated.

With it being our first home, came several other firsts. Buying our first couch, our first demo project, first time picking out paint colors, first time installing flooring...

It's safe to say we learned A LOT.

About a year ago I finally found my decorating groove and now I know what I want our home to look like and I know how to get there because I found my signature decorating style. I feel so much better overall about our home and actually love how it looks now.

I thought it'd be fun to look back on the past couple years and share what we learned/regret/wish we did differently, and all that good stuff.

And just for kicks, here is the evolution of our living room over the last 2 years...

living room transformation

Consider Warmer Paint Colors

Right when Jordon bought the house we painted every single room. I'm a lover of white and knew white walls were the way to go.

At the time, Emily Henderson was designing their new home and painted every room in their home white. I loved that she, a talented designer, chose to paint every single room white and that I was not indeed crazy for wanting every single room in my home plain old white.

However, I wish I would have considered other warmer shades of white. I chose the stark white you get right off the shelf. No mixing, just white as white gets.

It's clean and beautiful, but it can get a little cold, especially in the winter. I wish I would have chosen just a few shades warmer so it still looks white, but has some warmth. This is something we could easily change, however, I'm focusing on the next bigger project. If I absolutely hated it, I would repaint it.

Research Furniture Before You Buy

I struggled a lot with buying furniture.

Our very first purchase was the couch. We bought it after being in the house for a few days when we finally got tired of having no place to sit. I wrote an entire post on why our first couch purchase was a mistake that you can read here.

tips to choosing the right rug size

Our lack of research kicked us in the butt and the couch ended up being wayyyyy too big for our small living room and we are now on our second couch (that I absolutely love). The first couch has been moved to the basement family room so luckily we still have a use for it.

Let that be a lesson to you. Always research before you go shopping so you have an idea of what's out there and you know what you're looking for and measure three times. At least. Then, never settle if you don't see what you're looking for right away.

Live in Your Home Before Rushing to Buy New Furniture

If possible, it's best to live in your new home for a while before rushing to make all new major furniture purchases. Living in your space gives you time to figure out how you'll use it, what layout will work best, and then you can find pieces that fit. Something we did not do.

Don't Settle Just Because "It Works"

Besides the couch, I had several other furniture purchases that didn't work out. Luckily, most of them I purchased on Craigslist so it wasn't a huge deal.

I am on our third coffee table in two years. Our first was the coffee table that I had from college that was too small. Then, I found a marble top coffee table on Craigslist. I loved that it hard marble, but that was about it. It was such a good price I bought it anyway. It just didn't go with the space at all and I really didn't like it, especially the floral detail on the front. I sold that, and finally found the current coffee table we have now on Craigslist as well. This style was exactly what I was looking for and it was only $50. It's worked great for us and it's a much better size than the last 2.

marble coffee table

coffee table #2

Since our living room makeover, I plan on replacing the coffee table one last time. It's about the only thing I haven't replaced yet in the makeover. I have my eye on this one, I'm just waiting to bite the bullet.

There were a few other furniture purchases I made simply just to "fill" space. The blue credenza/bar was another super cheap Craigslist find but all it did was collect dust. We literally never used it so I sold it. Same with the IKEA wicker chair. I bought it to fill space but we never sat in it.

modern-living-room

IKEA wicker chair

About a year ago when I had an "aha" moment and finally found my decorating groove, I decided to get rid of everything we didn't use. Our home was starting to feel cluttered so I wanted to simplify and only keep things we loved and used. Now I don't buy anything unless it's on my list or I have a specific place in mind that needs it.

Basically, don't settle on something because "it works" if you don't love it. Practice patience, my friend.

It Won't Be Perfect

This was a tough one for me, at first.

We refuse to take out a loan for a home project, and we choose to DIY everything ourselves to save money. Neither of us had done any demo projects before, so it's been full of learning...mostly on Jordon's part.

The first major demo we tackled was the bathroom. It was a complete gut job. Jordon researched and taught himself how to do everything from the plumbing, to tiling, to flooring. There were many things that didn't go smoothly and we had to figure it out as we went.

When we finally finished, there were a few things that weren't perfect, but it looked a THOUSAND times better than it did before.

bathroom before
white bathroom vanity

Just remember perfect doesn't exist whether you hire it out or not. I should have told myself this before we started the bathroom so I wasn't nit-picking. I'm just grateful we don't still have butterfly wallpaper :)

We've done several other projects outside in the backyard (tear down an old shed, fix siding, take out a falling retaining wall and build a new one, rip out a concrete pad) that I haven't shared on the blog.

In 2017, we plan on tackling our last big reno, the kitchen. I am so so excited to get this done and finally have a dishwasher!

These 5 lessons are what I personally learned from decorating our first home and I hope you can learn a thing or two from my mistakes. If you are struggling to decorate like I was at first, I made this mini-series to help you feel more clear on your style and know if pieces go together. It helped me transform our home into what it is today and I think it will help you too.

Have you had a similar experience decorating? What are the biggest things you've learned from decorating your home?

Share in the comments and we can all learn from each other :)