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How do I decorate on a small budget? Your home design questions, answered by an expert

New place? Take it room by room, says Aoife Tobin of Style So Simple.

Image: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

BUYING YOUR FIRST home is an exciting time – but it is also a time when big decisions come thick and fast.

Earlier this year, we set out to understand how first time buyers in Ireland felt about a range of topics with a survey on Daft.ie and a series of interactive polls on TheJournal.ie. You shared your feelings with us on everything from house prices to to the design features you wanted in your new home.

Now we’re picking out some of your biggest questions and concerns from the results, and sharing informed advice from Irish experts. Today’s topic: finding a home with a design that suits your needs – and furnishing it in a way that suits your budget.

Here to help is Aoife Tobin, interior designer and owner of Style So Simple, who regularly helps buyers and recent homeowners to create beautiful, functional living spaces. We put some pressing questions to her…

1. I want my kitchen to be the hub of my home. Which kitchen design features should I be looking out for in a new place?

oldbridge manor Source: Glenveagh Homes

A high-quality fitted kitchen and a well-laid out kitchen/dining area were two areas that buyers ranked a high 7/10 in importance. So if you’re browsing house listings, what are the kitchen features that will make your life easier?

“Today’s kitchens aren’t just task areas. They’re places the whole household gets together, so you want the design to reflect that. Function is important,” Tobin says. She advises visualising how you plan to use your kitchen, and using that to figure out which design features are important to you:

I see a lot of people going for open plan kitchen/dining spaces so the kitchen becomes more than just a place to cook.

And if you have school-age kids, a breakfast bar or island can also become a homework space – it’s somewhere parents can keep an eye on youngsters while also getting a start on dinner.

Built-in storage can often be costly to add in later, so if it’s there to begin with, all the better. “It’s not an essential but it will make your life easier. In particular I love multi-functional pieces, like benches or seating areas that also double as a place to store things.” says Tobin.

2. Which pieces of furniture are worth investing in, and which items can I buy on the cheap?

shutterstock_1413157547 Source: Shutterstock/fizkes

A huge 54% of buyers expected their furniture to be their single biggest moving in expense, according to our Daft.ie survey. So how can you prioritise your spending here?

Tobin usually advises new homeowners to assign a higher part of their budget to three specific things: their couch, their bed and a good dining table and chairs.

All of these are things you’ll use every day, and it would be frustrating to have to replace them in a couple of years due to wear and tear. EZ Living and Harvey Norman have great options within a first time buyer budget. With the bed, if you can’t afford a top quality bed frame, definitely get the best mattress you can afford.

Coffee tables, side tables and soft furnishings are all things that “you can get away with buying a bit more cheaply,” says Tobin. And if you don’t want to go high street, think outside the box: “Check DoneDeal for second hand pieces, and be open to DIYing too. You can pick up rolls of fabric very cheaply to re-cover benches and chairs.”

3. What’s your best tip for planning ahead with the decorating before moving day?

shutterstock_524794168 Source: Shutterstock/BalanceFormCreative

In general, furnishing and decorating your new place is considered the ‘fun part’ of moving house. In fact, it’s something buyers told us they were looking forward to doing, rating it 7.6/10 in terms of positive anticipation.

But it’s also a mammoth task, and one that can be overwhelming if left until moving day. So which elements can be covered off ahead of time? Tobin has some advice which should come in handy:

Get your hands on the plans of your new home. Go through them, and draw in the items you want to have in each space. Where will the TV go? How will you position the beds in each bedroom? Do you want a feature wall in your living room?

Doing this will help you devise your “interiors shopping list,” and you can start to shop for basics like couches, beds and other items that may need a delivery lead time.

4. How can I keep my spending low during the first few months in my new home?

shutterstock_1523035292 Source: Shutterstock/World_of_Textiles

Even with contracts signed and solicitors’ fees paid, moving and furnishing can still throw up plenty of unexpected costs – and buyers rated their level of nervousness about over-spending at 6.2/10.

Tobin advises taking your time here – don’t feel that your home needs to be interiors magazine-ready on moving day.

“Yes, it’s helpful to plan ahead, but that doesn’t mean to need to do everything at once. When it comes to decorating, I’d suggest taking things room by room. Your master bedroom and living room are good places to start, as you’ll likely spend a lot of time in those areas. The design of the rest of the house can follow as you get used to living in the space.”

At Glenveagh Homes, our vision is that everyone should have the opportunity to access great-value, high-quality homes in flourishing communities across Ireland. We understand that buying a home is possibly the biggest decision you will ever make in your life – but we want to make it your easiest. Click here to find out more about Glenveagh developments.

Sponsored by:

Glenveagh Homes

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