How To Fill Your First Home, According To An Interior Design Expert

A man and a woman unpacking boxes in their new home.
Photo: Getty Images

Whether you are graduating from a dorm to an apartment or making the jump to a house in the ‘burbs, filling your first home is a big step and an even bigger investment. Which is why we’ve asked Boston-based interior designer, Caroline Hughes, owner of C.B. Hughes Design to share with us her expert advice.

Admired by her young professional clients for her inventive approach to design, Caroline believes that a well designed space should be just as functional as it is beautiful. From making your first big furniture purchases to personalizing your decor, her tips will be the foundation in which you make your new house a home.  

Tip 1: As hard as it may seem, try and live in the space before purchasing any major furniture or accent pieces.​ Many times you end up using a space differently than you anticipated. Are two dining areas necessary for your lifestyle? It might be more appropriate to outfit your eat-in kitchen with a cozy seating area. It could be the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or glass of wine after a long day of work. And let’s face it, company always ends up in the kitchen, might as well have a comfortable seat for them. Function plays a much more significant role  in your life than aesthetic. If the design doesn’t complement your regular lifestyle,​ it creates chaos – and there’s nothing pretty about that.

Tip 2: Layer your lighting. Sure, that basic over head light gets the job done, but a space is much more interesting when it incorporates a variety of light sources. Recessed lights, ceiling flush mounts, chandeliers and wall sconces will create an overall illumination in the room. For more specific tasks, like reading or cooking, well placed table and floor lamps, pendants and under cabinet lighting are a huge help. Control the ambiance in the room by putting your lights on dimmers. It will make your home feel much more comfortable when entertaining guests.

Tip 3: Get creative with storage. Often times our first homes don’t come with our dream closets. So, it’s inevitable that our supposed linen closet will be taken over by our shoes. Priorities….right? Stick a small dresser in the hallway and keep your extra sheets and towels in there. Multifunctional furniture is key. The best example is a storage ottoman. It can be used as blanket storage, a foot rest, an extra seat for a guest, and a pseudo coffee-table when paired with a leather or wood tray on top.​

Tip 4: Use storage as a styling opportunity. Who said storage has to be ugly? Cover up clutter by disguising it as decor. It can be as simple as displaying your liquor and wine bottles on a bar cart to removing bars of soap from their unsightly boxes and storing them in a glass urn.

Tip 5: Decorate your home with purpose. It’s been said time and time again, the best designed homes are ones that reflect the people who live in them. Rather than filling your digital carts with a bunch of trendy accessories, take time to collect pieces of importance that you love and won’t grow tired of. Layer in special gifts from friends and family, trinkets you picked up while traveling and artwork that inspires you.

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