Decorating your new home: What not to do

The best part of acquiring a new home arguably comes at the very end, when decorating begins. If the previous owner has followed our recommendations on staging a home – such as painting walls in neutral tones – before selling, the property is a blank canvas ready for your personal touch. Before you rush through the process, however, take heed of our advice to avoid making any common mistakes.

Decorating your new home: What not to do

Start with a plan

Opt for meticulous planning, rather than judging by eye. Have each room measured and scale plans drawn up. Keep these measurements with you when browsing for furniture, and only buy a piece when you know exactly where it will go. At home, map out the main elements for a space before confirming any orders with a furniture designer. Ensure neighbouring items are of similar proportions, and suit the interior architecture. A double-height atrium will need a very different treatment to an intimate study, for example. Planning is also essential when choosing a colour scheme. Gather samples and swatches before making a final decision on shades, and assess them in both sunlight and artificial light. 

Take time selecting your furniture

It can be tempting to furnish comprehensively as soon as you move in, especially if you are remodelling the whole house. Filling your home right away leaves little space for truly exquisite objects you may find a few months later. Start slowly with core features such as beds, sofas and a kitchen design. Once these are in place work methodically, moving from room  to room. Seek out a few statement pieces from unusual sources – such as up-and-coming designers and auction houses – to add some personal flair. Don't settle for less with the rationale that items are holding the place of things to come.

Design to suit your lifestyle 

Perfectly staged interiors look good on the pages of a magazine, but it's important to consider whether the same pristine aesthetic works with your lifestyle. If you have small children, an all-white living room filled with precious statues may be more stressful than Zen-like. Warm earthy tones, draped handwoven textiles and scattered floor cushions may work better. If your entertaining style is relaxed, a formal dining room will be underused. Think creatively about your ideal space – a gadget-filled sports room, home cinema or music room are good alternatives.

Assess heirlooms critically 

It can be difficult to part with pieces that have been in your family for generations, or more recent purchases that were once loved but now look a little tired. However, decorating around them can be a mistake, as their age will date the design scheme as a whole. If you can sever the emotional ties, sell them on to an antiques dealer or donate to a charity. Otherwise, try introducing the piece after you've finished decorating to minimise its impact.

Now you have the design expertise, you simply need to decide where to apply it. If you're looking to invest in a new property, visit the Engel & Völkers website and explore our portfolio of residences. Alternatively, you can talk to us in person – our local real-estate experts are based in 32 countries across four continents.

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