5 Top tips for first time buyers looking to decorate their new homes! Courtesy of Interior Designer Jo Hamilton and rightmove.co.uk

Neutral base
Opt for neutral colours for any big money items, sofas, beds, kitchens, etc.  Tastes and trends change, so it’s good to keep to a simple base that will stand the test of time.  A bright red kitchen might look great initially but you may well go off it in a couple of years’ time.  A neutral base gives the opportunity to have fun with accessories and they can easily be swapped over if need be.

Don’t impulse buy
It’s very easy to rush out to the sales and find some wonderful bargains but then find that just don’t work in the space or that they don’t work together.  A mood board can really help to focus ideas.  Put together a board for each room, pulling out pictures from magazines, showing furniture styles and the illustrating the general feel you want to achieve.  Add colour swatches and fabric samples and you’ll find that your own style starts to emerge.  Take the mood board with you when you shop and make sure anything you buy works with your theme.

Give your kitchen a facelift
Kitchens can be hugely expensive but a facelift can be almost as good.  As long as your cupboard carcasses are a reasonably okay, you can re-dress them very effectively.  Find doors that are inexpensive but that you like – you can make them look more expensive by spending a little more on really nice handles.  A good worktop is like a good pair of shoes, it will really set the whole thing off and will make the room look luxurious.  Go for the most expensive worktop you can afford.  If your budget will stretch to granite or Corian that’s great but if not opt for a cheaper alternative that is made to look similar.  Add some punchy accessories for interest and you’ve got a great new look.

Spend money on art
First time buyers tend to be on a pretty tight budget, so inevitably there will be a certain amount of mend and make-do.  This look is very much on-trend at the moment but it is important to have something to tie the whole look together and artwork can do just that.  Spend money on a couple of key pieces that you really love and pull out the colours from the artwork in your accessories.

Lighting is the make or break of any interior, whatever the budget.  Give careful thought to the different moods you want to create during the course of the day – cleaning, cooking, working, romance, entertaining etc. and allocate some of your budget to each scenario.  It may be that your “romance and entertainment” lighting layer consists solely of candles and side lamps and that’s fine – you’re not looking for expensive solutions but it is important to consider it so that your home feels comfortable and welcoming.

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