3 Steps to Decorate a New Space When You Move

Whether you’ve just bought a house or you’re getting ready to move into a new apartment, facing an empty space to decorate can be an overwhelming task. This is a common feeling when getting ready to move.  

What if I told you there’s a three step process to make that less overwhelming for anyone who’s getting ready to move into a new space? 

When you’re trying to figure out what to do first, follow this 3 step process.

Step 1: Floor Plan for Big 3

Before you get excited about looking at mood boards and picking out your style, go for the three big spaces that you care about most. For most people, the top spaces are a living room, a dining room, and a bedroom. You could have a lot more spaces than that. Focus on those first three.

For just five minutes for each space, think about how you need to use those spaces.  For the living room, how do you want to use that room? Do you want to watch TV? Do you want to have a table in there for eating? In your bedroom, do you need to have a desk in there to work? These are the kinds of questions to think about before you start floor planning.

Measure Room

The first step for each room is to measure the length and width of it. If you’re moving into a new house, or even sometimes an existing house, your realtor may have drawings where you don’t have to measure this all out from scratch. 

Get the dimensions of each of those three spaces. Mark out where the doors and windows are before you start figuring out where the furniture is going to go. 

I did a post about how to floor plan on paper. You can either plan on a piece of paper or you can use a free tool.

Decide on Furniture to Keep

Once you have the rooms measured, go through the furniture you already have in your house. Think about which pieces you like and you definitely want to keep. Get measurements of all those and make a list. 

If you have pieces that you’re not sure you’re going to want to keep, make a separate list of those pieces. Measure them because it’s a good idea to move into your space with the items that you already have. Then, once you’re there, you can sell off pieces that you don’t want. You might need those temporarily. If you have extra time, it’s okay to go ahead and let those things go, or sell the things on Facebook Marketplace that you know you don’t want to take with you.

I like to play around with the furniture that I know I’m going to want to keep in each one of the rooms. This gives me an idea of where I want the furniture, so that I know exactly what to tell the movers when they come. “Oh, I want the bed on this wall,” or, “Oh, I want the couch on that wall,” because those pieces are heavy. I don’t want to have to move them myself. 

Step 2: Style Inspo

Start to think about the more interesting parts. What kind of look do you want this space to have? How do you want it to feel? What do you want the style to be?

It’s a good idea to get inspiration photos and figure out what style you’re leaning toward. If you have absolutely no idea, you can take the style quiz that I put together. You can also just go to Pinterest or Instagram and pick out a bunch of pictures that you like. Start broad in your search. 

Make sure that when you’re looking at inspiration photos, the ones that you’re picking are not photos that you love the architectural feature of the photo more than you do the decorations. You don’t want to pick things with 12 foot vaulted ceilings that you just love the way that living room looks, and your living room has 8 foot ceilings.

Try to narrow down your images for each of those three core rooms and pick five that you like. This is where you start to see patterns recurring. You start to see colors, pieces, and textures that you like in these photos over and over. This strategy helps you narrow down your vision. 

Remember, as you’re looking at these pictures and doing all this planning, your space is 100% going to change. The best way to change the space is once you’re living in it.

Should I paint?

One thing I haven’t talked about is painting and color on the walls. The chances are pretty high that the person who owned it before you painted everything in a pretty neutral color. I don’t like to paint before I move in unless there’s a crazy color on the wall. My house had a purple bedroom. 

whole house colors

Color Palette: Color Is Important

Get to know the rooms with the furniture that you have before figuring out, “Oh, I don’t like this color.” Color is a big part of the whole home to have a cohesive feeling to it. When picking your color palette, it’s a good idea to pick some colors from one room to the next that overlap a little bit.

For example, you might have blue and green in your living room, and your dining room might be blue and black. You have some colors that overlap in the space, especially the ones where you can see from one space to another. I did post about how to choose a whole home color palette

Color Inspiration

When building a mood board, I like to have one thing on the mood board that is the inspiration for the room. This helps to set their color palette. The one thing can be a rug, fabric for some drapes, fabric on a piece of upholstery, or it can be a piece of art. Use that one item to help set the color palette for the room. If it’s a neutral backdrop, then you can do anything with the decor. 

Step 3: Mood Board

Now that you know your floor plan and your inspiration, you can pull the things together onto a mood board for each one of the three main spaces. In a mood board, you’re going to start to think about your color palette. Include the things in the room that cannot be changed—that might be the wood floors, it might be the countertops, it might be moldings, and the wall color.

Show what is already there. See how things come together as you add the furnishings that you want to go in that room. This is where you’re going to start making a third list. 

  • Keeping: The first list of items you definitely want to keep.
  • Maybe: The second list of furniture you are not unsure if you will keep, but know the sizes of it. 
  • Need: The third list is the furniture that you probably need for this space.

Three things I do are: floor plan for the big three rooms, get my inspiration, and put together a mood board just for those three rooms. 

3 Items to Replace When You Move

I like to avoid buying a bunch of new pieces before I move in. I like to live in the space first to see what I like and need. 

Three things that I always replace in any new space are:

  • Window treatments almost never can move with your things. 
  • Lighting is like the jewelry in a room. It adds so much. I have replaced every light fixture in my house. 
  • The third thing is the rug. Before I move, I buy a new rug that fits the space.

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