Buying your first home is a lot of different things: exciting, fun, terrifying, stressful, sometimes scary, and almost always overwhelming—and that’s just the process of finding and buying your new home. What happens after the mountain of paperwork is signed and you finally have those wonderful keys in your possession? Well, for most of us, it’s more of the same: stress, worry, fun, excitement, etc. We wonder what kind of furniture to get, what colors to use, what things need to be replaced, and exactly how to space-plan to get the best use out of our new space.

The list can go on and on, and it was no different for my friends Katie and Jimmy. One day, I received an email from Katie asking for some assistance decorating their new home, a cute one-bedroom condo. She was feeling overwhelmed with all the choices she would have to make and wanted some guidance on how to choose colors, flooring, and in general how to create a cohesive design with good flow that would feel relaxing when you walked in the door at the end of a busy day.

BEFORE PHOTOS

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The first thing we did was a little basic color theory. Katie knew she wanted to change the color scheme (see before photos), so I chose some paint samples and showed her how certain colors work well together and how colors can change appearance in different lighting situations. She was surprised, as most of us are, to learn that certain color combinations can bring out undertones, distorting the “true” colors you thought you were selecting in the store. It was a good lesson and Katie was a quick learner.

DURING PHOTO

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Armed with her newly acquired knowledge, Katie selected colors she thought would work well in her home. Because her condo isn’t big and you can see most of the space from one vantage point, we discussed flow. You don’t need to choose the same colors for your space, but you should choose colors that “play well together.” From Katie’s photos, you can see she chose a relaxing green for her main living space (living room, dining area, kitchen). Because her kitchen cabinets were light, I suggested she use a darker shade of that same green to make the cabinets “pop” but keep the cohesive feel from one end of the space to the other. To pull the darker green into the living space, I suggested that she apply it to the decorative cutout above the bedroom door, which is located in the living room end of the space. This color strategy created a pleasing flow with little effort.

Next up, the bedroom. For this room, she chose a soft blue color. It felt pleasing next to the soft green of the outer living space and continued the nice flow we had already established. The bathroom off the bedroom is a bit darker blue to blend in with the other color choices.

Flooring flow was a little more challenging due to the big ceramic tile in the kitchen end of the space and carpet in the living room end as well as the bedroom. Because the living space is limited, we discussed how choosing a cohesive flooring throughout the big living area (entryway, kitchen, dining, and living room) would make it feel larger and less “broken up” into smaller areas. Since Katie’s paint choices were fairly light, we talked about how a darker-toned floor would help ground the look and feel. (Be careful if you have dark flooring because in combination with dark, heavy furniture, you can create an unbalanced heavy feel to your space). Because we were trying to tie in several different wood finishes from cabinets and furniture, Katie chose a multi-toned floor that helps pull everything together without making the space feel bottom-heavy. They wanted carpet in the bedroom, but the old carpet had to go. So we chose a neutral, two-toned carpet for the bedroom that complemented the flooring in the living area.

For doors, window trim, and floor molding, Katie selected white, which always looks fresh, modern, clean, and makes your other color choices stand out.

In the end, Katie and Jimmy ended up with relaxing space that feels fresh and looks cohesive. Check out their “after” pictures—a beautiful space this great couple looks forward to coming home to again and again! Decorating an entire home can be intimidating or even overwhelming. You just need to evaluate things one step at a time and gradually put together for an overall design strategy.

AFTER PHOTOS

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It’s always rewarding to be able to share knowledge with people, alleviating their fears and helping them find solutions so they can love where they live. We had a great time working together. Katie and Jimmy learned a lot along the way and were very happy with their outcome.

Now what will you do next to love where you live?

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