Where to start when it comes to interior design for your new home

Nadia Davy
Written by Nadia Davy
Russells Consultant
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So you’re building a new house from scratch, or you’ve just bought an existing house and want to kick off some renovations. Where do you start when it comes to interior design and décor for your new home?

In this article we offer tips and suggestions for timelines, shopping and purchasing, how much you should be spending, and what details you need to consider.

3 key things to decide first

1. Will the style of your new interior be based around items you already own or will you be buying all new? This will help determine what will work in your new dream style and whether you already have your focal point or need to invest in one. More about that further down.

2. What style do you want your new home to have? Compile a mood board of styles and things you like by browsing magazines or Pinterest.

3. Once you’ve done those first two, you’ll be able to pick a colour palette. Here’s a tip - hold off finalising your paint or wallpaper until you’ve chosen the bulk of your furniture and accessories. Why? With thousands of patterns, colours, tints, tones and shades available, it will be much easier to match the paint or wallpaper with the stuff than the other way round.

Shop around

Not only should you shop around for labour quotes and to compare prices on the items you need. You should also shop around to see what’s available. That perfect lighting fixture you saw on Pinterest might not be available in NZ and you may have to compromise. Or you may just see something completely different that tickles your fancy.

Take measurements of your room or even a floor plan with you when you’re out shopping so you know if something will fit well.

Take photos of the things you like. Furthermore, go armed with a sticky notepad so you can jot down the name of the store and attach it to the item before you take the photo. That way, you won’t forget where you saw the things you like.

How long will it take?

Depending on your budget you may want to complete some of the work yourself. Have a good think about which jobs can you do yourself and which you will need professional labour for.

It’s important to factor in time for your project: time to get jobs done, time for delivery of products, timing of labour and installation. Also consider the order in which jobs need to happen.

Getting into the detail

Think about functionality. Rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom are practical workrooms so this should come before aesthetic considerations. In the living room, consider where the best position for the TV/Media should be; furniture placement will depend on this.

How much storage (cupboards and/or shelving) will you need and will this be built in?

Give yourself room to move. If you’re investing in a lot of new items, list them in order of importance and work your way down. If you think there’s a space that needs filling, it’s easier to add things at a later date than to have to cram a lot of things in and overdo it from the get-go. Great news if you’re working on a budget; invest in good quality statement pieces that don’t have to fight for attention.

Try to avoid ‘themes’. This is the quickest way to date a room. If you really like a theme, pick a couple of your favourite elements and build a looser style around them.

Create a focal point. Pick ONE thing to be the dramatic piece that draws attention in the room and work outwards from there. Know where to place it for best effect. The best spot for a focal point is usually directly across from the entrance.

Give your knick-knacks the Coco Chanel treatment. Coco Chanel’s accessorising motto was this: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” In the case of ornaments and other accessories, if it’s just not working in the room find a new home for it.

Be bold and be you. The tips above are just that, tips. If you don’t agree with them, that’s ok. Ultimately you have to enjoy living in this space so fill it with things that make you happy and comfortable.

How should I budget for interior décor?

Of course, before any of this can happen you need to allocate a budget to it. Whether you’re building new or renovating, make a start by putting your ideas down on paper. List what you want to accomplish and what needs to be purchased in order to make it happen. Then, prioritise it; decide what the important items are and allocate budget to these things first. Whatever is leftover can go towards the smaller details and accessories.

Remember, it doesn’t all have to be completed at once. Yes, that would be nice, but you can ease the pressure of your budget by staging the project.

Also, breaking down the overall budget into smaller chunks for each room gives you a much better chance of staying within it. And it never hurts to have a back up so plan a contingency fund as well.

Using your existing furniture helps keeps costs down.

Surprisingly, enlisting the help of an interior designer can help keep costs in check. Their fees vary so ask at the outset. But once you’ve made an agreement and a budget has been set, it’s their job to give you what you want within your means. They often have access to better deals than you will get yourself in retail stores and their knowledge or where to find what is extensive.

You can get some ballpark figures on things like cladding, flooring and painting at Builderscrack.co.nz using their cost estimators. They do vary widely from low-cost to extravagant, but at least it will give you an idea of where you’re comfortable before you go shopping around.

When it comes to renovations, according to this article from Westpac the average price across a whole house is around $2,200 per square metre; although this other, more recent article from Homes To Love puts it at closer to $2600. Updating kitchens and bathrooms and adding extra bedrooms offer a good return on investment when it comes to resale. But you don’t need to be driven by that if you intend to renovate for your own long-term comfort.

Keeping track of your budget

Once it’s time to get started, download our budget planning spreadsheet to help make the process easy and keep track of your spending. It’s easy to use and has a number of items already listed to get you thinking about what you might need.

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