Buying a new house and moving in goes hand-in-hand with several extra costs, and first-time buyers frequently feel the need to furnish and decorate their home within the first few weeks of moving in.

The truth is, you can hold off on most of the items you’d consider buying and add them to your home later once you’ve figured out exactly what you want and where. It’s important to draw a clear line between the must-haves and the “nice-to-haves”.

Because we all have different wants, needs and budgets, everyone’s list will differ slightly, but these five must-haves are a good starting point to avoid the sometimes overwhelming emptiness of a new home:

  1. Window treatments

First things first, get privacy in your own home. Curtains or blinds are one purchase that require thorough planning, as interior design essentials like these will have a big influence on how the rest of your home will look. This might not sound like a very exciting thing to spend so much of your money on, but we’d suggest investing in a proper set, as this makes up a crucial part of your home.

A set of curtains can cost you between R500 and R1 800, depending on the dimensions, type, length, fabric composition and lining. Without compromising on quality, start with a basic design that suits your budget, and stick with neutral colours until you settle on your colour scheme.

  1. Sofas

Sofas are tricky, as it’s difficult to know in the beginning whether you want something that’s just practical and comfortable, or if your sofa is going to be one of your statement pieces. If you decide to purchase a sofa before you’ve really started decorating, opt for a neutral colour and simple style that will work with whatever look you decide on later.

Luckily, buying complementary, but matching, chairs is right on-trend at the moment, so you’ll easily be able to add some personality with different colours, styles and prints when you’ve got a better idea of what you’re going for. Keep in mind that the sofa bed is making a comeback, so you can get a stylish living room piece and guest bed all in one. Some of our favourites are the slick Alisa, the laid-back Ulva and the minimalist Stockholm sofa bed.

  1. Add a touch of character

The thing with items that add character to your home is that they usually come over a period of time and can’t just be found on one trip to the homeware store. That’s why you have to be careful not to clutter your home with too many statement pieces in the first few weeks. However, sad and empty shelves will do your new home no favours.

If your home doesn’t come with some built-ins or cupboards, it’s definitely worth investing in a nice bookshelf or a few art pieces to make it feel more like home. This doesn’t have to be expensive and one or two items are good to start with. Things that easily add character are scatter cushions, storage baskets, frames or mirrors.

  1. Light it up

If you were lucky enough to find a home with decent lighting, you can skip this step (and even replace it with a nice-to-have). However, if the lighting in a home needs changing, definitely put this on your list as one of the first things to address. Replacing the basic style lighting fixtures in the living room or kitchen can make the world’s difference and is a great way to connect your personality to the home.

This doesn’t have to be extravagant. Add simple downlights to the rooms, and cosy up a dark corner with one statement accent light or a few mini accent lights above wall art.

  1. Greenery

Don’t let your past plant failures keep you from trying again. Live plants are one of the easiest ways to fill empty corners and to make a new space feel like home. Succulents are always a safe bet, as they require little care. Visit your local nursery for some help on which plants will work best with your home. For those who don’t have green fingers or the time to care for plants but love some greenery in their home, our faux plants and greenery works just as well.

Once you have some greenery, remember that flowers are also a great way to brighten up a space as they bring warmth and care to an unfamiliar environment. Husbands and boyfriends – take note!

P.S. Moving into a new home is an exciting step and there will come a day that calls for celebration. When someone pops open that bottle of champagne, you don’t want to celebrate out of paper cups. For that reason, you have our permission to add a set of champagne flutes to the must-haves 😉

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