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What to do before you get the decorators in

Congratulations! You’ve got the keys to your new home, the wait is finally over! But what next, once you’ve unpacked? Whether it’s ‘liveable with’ or pure ‘House of Horrors’ it pays to have a plan before you start spending serious money..

How do you personalise this new space to reflect yours and your family’s tastes, lifestyle, hobbies, home entertaining and all within your budget?

Are you the kind of person to rip off all the wallpaper and pull up the old carpets immediately, or do you prefer to live with a space for a while?

Conventional wisdom says you should live in a space for at least 6 months before making major (ie structural changes or expensive updates).

This makes sense as you have time to get into a routine, work out if the room layout makes sense and where the sun falls during the day.

The advantages of this approach are that you are more likely to avoid costly mistakes and it really gives you time to think, save up and hold out for the furniture you really want rather than rushing to get something that’s perhaps a bit of a compromise as you needed it within the standard 10-week delivery period for a bed or sofa.

The trouble is that it’s human nature to have good intentions, with stacks of energy, ideas and flashes of genius when you first move somewhere, only to run out of steam, creativity or inclination as time goes on.

We learn to live with the threadbare carpet, the walls that have the outline of the previous occupants’ picture frames on the wall, or the mismatched furniture.

To some extent that’s a positive, if you can avoid spending loads of money, or put it off for a year or two, then that’s great, and very sensible.

On the flip side, you can also get so used to your environment that you stop noticing the little things that could do with fixing, upgrading or replacing and eventually your home becomes sad, tired and unloved which does nothing to move you forward or support you in life. Your home needs to be your sanctuary, and a place that totally reflects your personality and lifestyle.

The solution – when you move in (or before) get started with a list of everything you’d love to do to upgrade or enhance it.

Keep adding everything, big or small that is not how you want it, whether it’s the stained kitchen worktop, the cracked bathroom tile, the busy living room carpet or the colour of the front door.

Write next to it, what you need to do, or who you need to call to get it fixed/replaced/upgraded.

This is a really useful exercise on many levels. It clears the mental to do list in your head, the running commentary that you probably don’t consciously notice that goes something like this ‘Hmm, really must weed the drive this weekend’, ‘should really get the front door painted, it looks a mess’, ‘that stain on the stairs is annoying, wonder what that is’. ‘I really hate this brown paint in the landing, soo depressing’…you know what I mean, right?

In every room, pin up a piece of blank A4 and keep a pen nearby and list everything that needs doing in that room or area.

Literally brainstorm, get it all out of your head, and get everyone else in the family involved, too. We’re not talking fantasy of gold plated Swarovski-encrusted taps, but just all the things that you have already to assigned to your mental list for next weekend or just ‘one day’.

Once you think it’s all been noted down, go through and prioritise and group your wishlist into things you can do yourself, or need to research further, things that you can buy yourself and then the things you need an expert for – an electrician to update the kitchen lighting, a plumber for the dripping taps etc. if you have a few things you need a plumber for, then find some on checkatrade.com and get them round to quote for the work. Same with electricians, gardeners, decorators and carpenters. You will have gained useful information (costs, which tradesman you’d choose and perhaps other ideas you may not have thought of yourself) and you’ve moved a step closer to achieving your goal.

It’s up to you at this point to prioritise what needs doing. If the carpets have another couple of years in them, just get them steam cleaned (there are always great offers on voucher sites like Groupon if you look for a while).

What about the actions you can do yourself? – it’s simple – put them in your diary! Better yet, invite the relies down for a visit or plan a housewarming party a few weeks or months off, a deadline will help focus the mind!

If you need to buy a few things from the local DIY store, do a reserve order online for collection or delivery and be ready to hit the ground running at the weekend or on your next day off.

You’ll feel so much better once you’ve reduced that mental chatter by writing it down and then taking action, you may now be fired up to make big changes to your home.

How about the bigger jobs? Are you dreaming of a new kitchen, new colour cheme or building an extension?..check out my next blog article on being your own interior designer…

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