Making it Yours: Decorating Tips for New Homeowners

Moving into a new home is a life-altering experience that can be upsetting, even traumatic, for some people, especially kids. The whole family is leaving behind the comfort and emotional support of personal space, friends, and a lot of happy memories. The faster you can make the new space your own, the easier and less emotionally wrenching the transition will be for everyone. Making yourself at home and alleviating emotional upset means creating a warm and comfortable environment with simple home maintenance, inexpensive decorating tips, and making sure everyone is comfortable in their own space.

Start with the bedrooms

The best way to make a new house a home is to begin with the bedrooms. These are always the most intimately personal rooms in anyone’s house, and it’s important that everyone feels comfortable in their own personal haven. Start unpacking bedroom furniture, decorative items and clothing first, and arrange them according to each family member’s preferences. Remember, kids may need some alone time during the chaos of a move and in the aftermath of leaving a home they’ve lived in for many years. They need a safe and comfortable place, a psychological anchor as they begin the process of acclimating.

Change the locks

Feeling comfortable and at home means, above all, feeling safe and secure. As a new homeowner, it’s your responsibility to change the locks, a necessary change considering that the previous owner very likely made copies of his key for friends, family, and anyone else who may have had a reason for entering, such as a dog walker or housekeeper. Whether or not your new home has a home security system, changing the locks is a “must-do” for your priority checklist.

Do some exploring

You’ve become familiar with the home you’ve moved into, but there are still things you need to know in case something goes wrong. For example, a burst pipe may require the water to be shut off temporarily, so you’ll need to know how to get to the main water valve. Same goes with the fuse box, which is often in the basement, but not always. You don’t want to be stumbling around in the dark looking for the circuit breakers if the lights go out.


Even if you liked the paint scheme when you first walked through, it’s a good idea to put a fresh coat on those interior walls, which may be showing some wear, or maybe you’d like to make a fresh start with a different shade. Either way, it’s a tangible way of making the new place all yours. You don’t have to worry about staying with neutral colors since you’ve just moved in, so lay on the lavender or turquoise if that’s what you like.

Give it your own personality

Make it a point to hang your family photos, mementos, and kids’ artwork as soon as possible to make it feel like home. Don’t be shy; if you want to hang that photo of the family dog in Santa’s lap, go right ahead, and the kids will love it. It’s a good first step toward personalizing the house you’ve all looked forward to living in.

A homey backyard

Establishing an attractive green space with a landscaping upgrade can help create a relaxing backyard environment and a fun new place for the kids to play. Consider creating a “green fence” made of living trees and shrubs. Emphasize evergreens, plants and trees that stay green all year.
People often have some system in mind for moving into a new home, perhaps starting with the big furniture and working their way down. But that can leave the most personal items, those things which will truly make it a home, for last. Instead, begin with objects that mean the most to everyone.


Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.

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