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Moving into a new space  is exciting, but can be a lot of work to make it feel like home. Here are some new home renovation and furnishing tips from someone who’s done it.

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Buying or renting a new place to live can be one of the most exciting times in your life, but it can also be one of the most frustrating. It’s a great opportunity to recreate your interior space, but when you’re dealing with living in a place that is new to you, or even a new city, there’s often a huge learning curve. Take it from me: because of my long and varied career, I’ve moved house about twenty times so far! Here’s how to get to know your new space and make it yours.

One: measure about five hundred times

I remember the time I bought a lovely new sofa and, lo and behold, the moving guys who delivered it were convinced it would never make it up the stairs to the apartment I rented on the second floor of a heritage home. Not only was the stairway very steep, but the door into the apartment was narrower than standard, having been installed in the late nineteenth century. On paper, everything was supposed to fit, but the reality was a bit different than expected. We did manage to squeeze the sofa in, but only after the door was taken off its hinges, the hinges themselves removed, the sofa wrapping removed, and about an hour spent wiggling it through one inch at a time. The moving guys were not impressed.

When you’re thinking about buying new furniture or moving your existing furniture into a space, remember that standard new door sizes are 80 inches in height and 34 inches in width, with the door intact, but they can even be bigger. This is a fairly wide berth, however, compared to those in older homes. While most older homes have as high or higher door frames, the width can vary widely. Plan carefully by measuring each and every door so that you can decide what goes where, and so that you buy the right size of furniture for your space.

Two: a fresh coat or two

It might be a no-brainer to think about repainting your new home, but trust me when I say that it’s sometimes not as easy as it sounds. When we moved into our house a few years back, my partner and I wanted to play with different, matching tones of grey (which were and still are fashion-forward in home design). We thought that we had chosen three very different greys because they were significantly different on the sample cards. The reality, however, was that two of these colors ended up looking exactly the same on the walls. It wasn’t that the paint store had screwed up, it was that light plays differently whether a room faces west or south. The light in each room changed the tone of the greys so considerably that they ended up matching.

To avoid this issue, do take home sample cans of paint and try them out on the walls. It seems like a lot of extra work, and it can be if you need to cover up some very different colors for your final coat, but it is worth your time.

couple facing wall painting renovating

Three: step lively

I’ve found that one of the best ways to create a new space is to add new carpets. When you move to a bigger or smaller space, for example, you often find that your carpet sizes are just a little off. You also probably are dealing with different types of flooring and different traffic patterns. Ideal for anywhere in the home, or even outside, modern area rugs can act as practical works of art for your floors.

Create a new and fresh look by setting down some soft rugs in your bedroom or living room, and adding some sisal or bamboo runners to your entrance way or hallways.

Four: move and groove

Getting the right furniture for your new abode is sometimes tricky. It’s great to bring your favorite pieces and give them pride of place, but it’s also important to find the right sizes of furniture for each room.

To save yourself money, you might want to spend some time mixing it up. For example, in my home I have an exceptionally large upstairs bathroom, but a couple of bedrooms that are smaller than average. Instead of spending money on huge renovations, I added a vanity and moved a beautiful, large dresser into the bathroom space as well as some shelves, so that it acts as both a walk-in closet and a place to relax in the tub. Spend a few days moving furniture into new places, or make cut-outs of your favorite pieces on paper so that you can see what works best.

Five: take solace

When we move, we tend to want to get everything done quickly so that we can get it over with. A lot of times, I’ve found that this is a big mistake. When I rush, I never get things in the right place the first time, and I end up having to redo everything a few weeks later. It’s also exhausting.

Instead of getting every dish into a cupboard and every Blu-Ray disc into a cabinet, take a breather. Pop on the next thing in your Netflix queue and order some Thai food. Take a step back and think about what your space means to you, and how you might improve it slowly over time.

Every move is different

From one place to the next, every move is different. It’s important to create the space that you deserve. That means taking your time in coming up with the right design scheme. No matter how large or small, your home will be beautiful if you take it one step at a time, even if it takes a little longer than you originally planned.

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Lisa Michelle

Lisa Michelle is an editor, lifestyle writer, and novelist. She’s also an avid traveler, lover of animals, and admitted Anglophile.