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You’ve asked, so I’m answering. This week I’m oversharing and giving you advice straight from my own personal experiences.

My husband and I are looking to buy our first home, and it’s likely going to be a bland townhouse or condo. Since you’re a relatively recent home buyer yourself, I’m wondering what you looked for. What was aesthetically important to you and what can be modified later when moving into a new home? 

-Elizabeth H., Long Island, NY

My husband and I bought our home a year and a half ago, so that search is definitely fresh on my mind!

The first step is letting go. I always had a clear vision of what my dream house would look like . . . until I was actually in the market for one! I told my real estate agent I was open to anything but Mediterranean style. And what did I end up with? A stucco exterior. But you know what? The thing that made me fall in love with the house was a very long hallway on the second floor – something I hadn’t even realized I would want. It’s great to have a list of desired features so you can narrow your search down, but don’t do it on aesthetics alone, because these aspects of your home can (for the most part) be easily changed and don’t correlate to functionality or intrinsic value. And when choosing your home, make sure to hold out for the magic.

Don’t move into a home where you don’t have room to grow. A lot can happen during the time you own your home. Your lifestyle could change in unexpected ways, and you may even decide to start or grow your family. It would be a shame to set yourself up with a time-limit on your home when choosing one with a little extra space could give you flexibility and longevity.

Find something solid.  You want a home that is well made and will stand the tests of time. Chances are if a home looks cheaply made on the exterior, its interior will be too. Knock on the doors and cabinets to make sure that the home is solid enough to fit your needs.

Find a house that has been loved. Flipping a home is not for everyone, and it certainly wasn’t for this entrepreneur and busy mama! Putting love into a home can be tiring and expensive, especially if you’re the first person who’s lived in it. When a house hasn’t already been loved, it may have an array of problems that could be costly to fix that you won’t know about when you make the purchase. So even if a house is a little bit dated, when it’s been lived in and cared for properly, you’ll know what you’re getting into. 

I know you’ve recommended shoe racks on your show, but I cannot remember which one. Can you help me out?

-Jessica C., Norwalk, CT

I sure can! Westgate’s Oversized Multipurpose Shoe Cabinet from Overstock is my favorite shoe storage solution. It’s got open shelving on the right side for lazy people like me who are never going to open a door to put their shoes away. But there’s also a cabinet on the left side, for people who, also like me, tend to gather a lot of clutter and need a place to store umbrellas, doggy-poo bags, gloves, etc. It’s the perfect shoe cabinet!

What are your favorite ways to make a big splash on a little budget?

-Andrea, Tarrytown, NY

There are so many ways, I could write a book. But let’s start with a few of my time-honored tricks:  

  • Put up drapes that hang from above your windows all the way down to the floor.  
  • Place a large piece of art above your sofa or headboard for an instant showpiece.
  • Pick up a rug that has more than 3-colors. It’s not only eye-catching, but it also amps up the coziness factor of any room.
  • Swap out your throw pillows to keep your décor fresh, fun, and seasonally appropriate. Every 4 months, I browse Etsy and stock up on all new designs and textures.
  • Place a tray on any surface (a bookcase, console, or coffee table), and load it up with barware and glasses — you get major glam with minimal cost effort!

Any suggestions for baby room colors when you don’t know what you’re having?

Wendy R., Park Slope, NY

Definitely! When you don’t know what you’re having, I personally would tend to skew yellow or teal. You can also do green, but I must admit green is not my favorite color. 

Hopefully I’ve answered all of your design questions while also revealing a bit more about myself. Have a question for me? I’d love to answer it. Send it in to info@affordableinteriordesign or post it on our Facebook page!

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