Life in Sweden, Snippets of life

Lessons on Decorating Your Space

We moved into our new apartment four months ago, and it’s been quite busy over here with unpacking, settling in, decorating, and a bunch of other boring house stuff. This is the first time we ever bought a property, so it’s been a lot of surprises, breakdowns, and frustration (and of course, good things as well).

One of the weird/wonderful thing about living in your own place is having free reign to do whatever we want. Using nails to hang artwork? No problem. Want to drill a bazillion holes? Go ahead. It was a bit disconcerting at first, having this much freedom after years of renting. But after a few months, I’ve learned not to flinch when drilling or hammering nails in.

As I mentioned above, there’s been a lot of surprises along the way, and so many lessons learned (at least for me. I don’t know, maybe most of you have known these things already). Anyway, I thought I’d list down some of the big things I’ve learned about decorating and filling in your place after you’ve moved in.

It will always take longer than you think

When we moved in, I thought we’d be done decorating the whole space in a week (included, in this assumption, painting 2 rooms). Clearly, I was naive and SO clueless. Here we are, months after we moved in, and there’s still a bunch of things to do. And that’s fine. Those videos on YouTube that make makeovers look so easy and quick are not to be believed. You’re not as experienced as they are and you’ve only seen the ‘edited’ parts (because obviously, they will edit out most of the boring parts like waiting for the paint to dry, or scraping bits of old wallpaper).

Left: Calling reinforcement (aka my sister) to help with the painting (also cleaning, unpacking, etc.). Right: One side of the office/guest room after we painted it.

You need to deal with the boring stuff first before getting to the fun parts

When we moved in, I couldn’t wait to start decorating and styling the place. Well, not so fast. There were plasters to put on, some scraping and cleaning to do, painting, and so on. You know, the important stuff. It sucks but that’s just the way it is. I just wish I knew this beforehand so I could prepare myself.

Take your time buying the furniture

Learning not to rush anything is a big theme here. I was so impatient to fill in the house with the pieces of my choice, as I feel so unsettled seeing the empty or half-done rooms. Well, that created a lot of unnecessary stress.

What I’ve learned is this: it’s better to wait until you find the piece you truly like (and fits your budget), rather than trying to get it done quickly just because you can’t stand an empty room.

Facebook Marketplace is your best friend

I’ve found that my style has evolved from the all-white IKEA stuff to a more unique (and dare I say, sophisticated) look. But of course, I still need some IKEA stuff; their furniture are staples and our budget only allows so many unique pieces (hint: not many). Also, as this won’t be our forever home, I’m reluctant to invest in pieces that I’m not sure will fit in our next place. So here is where I usually go for IKEA pieces (or other affordable options).

In Sweden at least (and I guess many other countries), FB Marketplace is full of IKEA pieces, so I always check there first before buying new. Thanks to FB Marketplace, I’ve managed to get our bedframe, daybed frame, shelves (so. many. shelves) at a fraction of the price.

And also, when you decide to sell your old furniture, IKEA pieces are much easier (and quicker) to sell. I guess it’s because people know the quality and what to expect, more than any other brands.

Left: The old shoe storage/dresser we found on FB Marketplace, before we upcycled it. Right: The after! Painted it in this dark, luscious green (which you can’t really tell from this pic). It isn’t our finest work but I’m fine with it, especially since this is the first time we painted furniture. Also, I want to have bigger golden knobs but we couldn’t find any, so these tiny ones will do for now. 

Avoid moving in the winter

I know this is not always possible, but when it is, avoid moving in the colder months. We moved in early November, and there’s nothing more miserable than sitting in a cold, dark, empty room while you’re trying to get the electricity and radiator to work.

Also, dealing with electricity is a beast and you’re really at a disadvantage in the winter when the daylight is short and you haven’t got that lightbulbs on.

One side of the bedroom.

So that’s some of my newfound wisdom when it comes to decorating your new place. There are other lessons (on top of my head: drilling is hard, and hanging anything in a straight line is even harder), but I’ll stop for now.

It’s been longer than expected but I’ve been enjoying decorating our new place! It’s turned cold, empty space into a cozy and inviting home. I’m planning to share more about the apartment in the next few months, so if you’re into this kind of thing, stay tuned! 🙂

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