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Are first-time homeowners crazy to hire an interior designer?

Recently I worked with a young couple remodeling their first home. I was hired as their interior designer and project manager only days after the young couple got the keys to their apartment. They wanted to make some remodeling changes (remove a wall, plan the kitchen-living room areas to maximize their small space) to their apartment before they moved in.

Some of their friends had heard that they hired an interior designer/project manager and were shocked that a young couple, who had worked so hard to get the down payment for their home and had taken on the burden of a monthly mortgage, would take on the added expense of an interior designer. They saw this expense as an extravagance the young couple could not afford.

My response to their friends was simple: this young couple took the RIGHT STEP at the right time! The couple was protecting their property and their investment. How? Home remodeling is an expensive proposition that, when done correctly, in the long-term will increase the value of the property and can provide a healthy return on investment when it is time to sell the home. On the other hand, a home remodeling job that is poorly handled will always generate a grocery list of arguments and miscommunications that directly translates into costly mistakes and delays.

Under my double (hard)hat as interior designer and project manager I was able to communicate with the client and the subcontractors in their own languages, prevent miscommunications and maintain expectations and keep expenses on an even keel.

Here are some great first home decorating tips that can help you prevent expensive decorating mistakes:

1. Decide which type of rooms are the most important for you to decorate: public rooms (livingroom, kitchen, dining room, bathroom) or private rooms (bedrooms, bathrooms) and then plan and shop for these rooms first.

2. Avoid crazy color schemes (and colored appliances and fixtures) that are “all the rage” - you may become sick of them long before you can afford to ‘redecorate’ them out of your home.

3. Consider the big ticket items before the small items for each room. A bed in your bedroom is more important than the bedspread. The couches in your living room are more important than throw pillows. The stove in your kitchen is more important than a spice rack.

4. Remember small decorating details that count. Hanging a few well-chosen pictures can turn a simply (and inexpensively) decorated room into a warm and friendly living space.

5. Create a decorating plan and shopping list with a budget and stick to it. If your shopping list lists two lamps – don’t buy three – you don’t need the clutter or the extra expense.

6. Think about quality over quantity. Buy two quality blankets that will last forever, rather than four cheap ones; as you may end up throwing away the cheap blankets (and your money) after only one season because they did not “wash well”!

7. There are some items you never have enough of – such as towels. Once again quality over quantity, but well – you always need towels – so this is a great gift idea when friends and family ask you what to buy for the new home!

8. Your kitchen is probably the hardest working room in your home. Invest in good heavy duty pots and pans. This is especially true of frying pans. Buy the best quality you can or you will end up buying new pans every year. On the other hand, consider purchasing all you cooking utensils at your local ‘stock’ store; remember you have no intention of handing down your wooden spoons to your grandchildren.

9. Chairs and tables for your kitchen and dining areas are usually high ticket items. When considering your choices think about your lifestyle, usual number of people in the household and your children and pet ‘situation’. Then set a realistic budget and list of priorities: is it more important for you to have bar stools around the island in your kitchen than a dinning table? Is it more important for you to have a large dining room table than a kitchen table?

10. Before planning your living room consider how you will use this room. Will this be a place for everyone to gather and watch TV? Will this room serve a double function as living room/office? Your furniture and accessories must reflect the atmosphere and planned functions of the room.

11. Before planning your bedrooms consider how you will use each bedroom. Will a bedroom serve a double function; such as bedroom/playroom or bedroom/work-office ? Is this an adult or a children’s room and how many people will use this room?

12. Bathrooms are sometimes the most overlooked room in the home. Before purchasing the home you may have only given the bathroom a quick ‘once over’. Often it is only when you move in that you really ‘see’ the bathroom. Until you can afford to fully renovate a bathroom, consider purchasing reasonably priced and easily installable/removable fixtures that can upgrade your bathroom.

Purchasing your first home is a terrifying and exciting experience. This is not the time to ‘play it by ear’ or ‘just wing-it’! Talk to trusted professionals to ensure you are getting the best property for your money and that you are protecting your investment with improvements carried out by licensed professionals.

Yael Diamond, Interior Designer and Project Manager, specializes in consulting, planning and designing private residences, elite apartments, offices, and public business. You can follow Yael on

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