Like all things in life, setting up your new home is more manageable if you break it down into steps and prioritize what needs to get done right away, and what can (or even should) wait.
Do: Start with a deep clean.
Before unpacking, before painting, before anything really, the first thing you should do is clean your home. After all, putting clean clothes in a dirty closet doesn’t make any sense.
Do: Unpack everything (but not everywhere or all at once).
To tame the chaos as you unpack, put boxes in the room where they belong, then go through five to 10 boxes a day. Once you open a box, empty it completely.
Do: Declutter (again).
Even if you thought you were ruthless with your decluttering at your old place, you may find you still have too much stuff. Honor the boundaries of the space you have, not the space you want. For example: How many pairs of shoes will actually fit in the entry closet? That’s the number that should be there. Everything else should be donated or put in the trash.
Do: Reimagine the “junk drawer.”
Be intentional about the space that holds all those essential things one inevitably needs in life: scissors, tape, highlighters, Sharpies. Designate a “general store” spot in your home—this might be a drawer, a closet shelf, or something else—so that you (and everyone else you live with) knows where to find them when needed.
Do: Draft a design budget and a timeline.
Now that you’ve got your space neat and tidy, you’re ready to think about decorating your new space. Even if your home is a 10, chances are you’ll want to invest some time and money into making it even more perfect. Maybe there’s a room you want to paint or a sofa that is made for your new den. Whatever the case, establish some financial guardrails and a timeline.
Don’t: Install window treatments.
You may think of window treatments as one of the first decorating tasks to tick off your to-do list, but it is actually recommended to avoid rushing for a number of reasons. A big one is the cost. It’s an expensive investment, so it’s a good idea to make sure it’s a valuable investment.
You’ll also get a better sense of what you need from your window treatments after living in your home for a while. Living in the house and seeing how the light is coming in during the day; see if there is an issue with privacy. Is there a nice view that you want to be able to see? You might find out that you have a heat problem or there’s a bedroom you want a little darker.
For a temporary solution while you’re figuring out what you need, we recommend using paper blinds.
Don’t: Buy new appliances.
This is especially true if you think there might be a kitchen renovation of any kind in your future. If you want to remodel and hire a designer and you’ve already pre-designed the space, they’re stuck designing around your new appliance.
Don’t: Make cosmetic exterior improvements.
Wait on exterior projects such as landscaping or painting until after you’ve settled in. It’s more important to make the inside feel like home than out.