By Editors of Flatrate

Published on April 19, 2015

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Photography by MAARTEN DE BOER

A new home is like a blank canvas with infinite possibilities. That can be a wonderful opportunity or turn into the burden of too many choices. So many rooms, so many chances to make a decision you might regret.

The best advice? Start small and slow. Follow these tips from the editors of FlatRate to get your humble house looking ripe and ready for that magazine spread.

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Photography by ANNIE SCHLECHTER

set your budget

Decorating can be done extravagantly or minimally. The main factor that determines your place on that spectrum is your willingness to spend. Figure out how much you have to spend on furniture, carpets, decor pieces like mirrors, etc. If you are on the low end, check out these DIY decorating tips. If you have a bit of cash to spend, look into an interior designer. Sometimes, they can pay off in the long run, in terms of value added to a house.

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figure out your style

Learn your own preferences before shelling out big bucks for a giant black leather sectional. Maybe you are more of tasteful colonial person. If this is your first home, buy the larger items—couches, dining room tables, large storage such as breakfronts or living room shelving—secondhand. It is not so much about saving some dough as it is about trying out a theme or style before you commit to investing in brand-new furniture.

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begin in the bedroom

This is where you are going to be spending a lot of time, so it needs to be comfortable. Your first matching bedroom set will make you feel like an adult. Even if you are on a budget and can’t afford a entire new set, piece together a dresser and nightstands that are roughly the same color. It will go a long way to giving your peace of mind at night, rather than flopping down on a mattress/box spring on the floor, staring at mismatched furniture.

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realize the power of paint

A professional paint job will do wonders for any room in the house. It will freshen up the drabbest living room. If you can’t spring for new hardwood floors yet, spruce up the room with a nice, neutral color. Picking a bold purple or midnight blue will almost surely lead to some regret a year or two down the line. Also, potential buyers can be scared off by intense color choices.

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

buy in stages

Take your time buying pieces for the home. If you find a couch you like, go ahead and make the purchase. But if you don’t love the coffee tables on display at the store that day, or you can’t find the perfect one online, hold off. Make do with some TV tray tables until you find a permanent solution. This strategy gives you flexibility to switch your preferences or, if your financial situation changes, up your budget.

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small changes can have big impact

Do you feel “meh” about your kitchen cabinets? Instead of pulling them out for an expensive renovation, switch out the hardware. Are you tired of the hardwood floors? Don’t start looking for wall-to-wall carpeting. Try out an inexpensive area rug first. These small differences can stand out, especially if you are changing something that you did not like from the moment you walked into the house as a prospective buyer.

The key to decorating is to let your personal style come through. Populate a room with similarly colored pieces or ones that fit a certain theme, but don’t shy away from adding in things that you like. Wooden duck carvings? Broadway posters? Anything goes. Just figure out a way to add them tastefully to the motif you have already established.

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Happy Decorating! And remember: No matter how expensive, or inexpensive, your tastes, FlatRate Moving can truck in what you need and arrange it anyway you want.