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When you buy a house in the middle of a sizzling market, you have to make some sacrifices. Sometimes this means going with a house that isn’t exactly your style. But don’t worry – you can still make it yours. Here are a few simple ways you can personalize your new house and turn it into a home that you’re proud of:

1. Address the Rooms Where You Spend Time

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If you’re honest with yourself, there are two or three areas in the house where you spend the bulk of your time. It’s likely the kitchen, living room, master bedroom, and maybe one other space. Why not spend the bulk of your time and money renovating these areas?

Your master bedroom is a particularly attractive candidate for personalization. It’s one of the few rooms in the home that is exclusive to you. When you have guests over, they probably won’t ever see it. This gives you the freedom to design and decorate it in any way that pleases you, without worrying about how it impacts the rest of the home. Personalize away!

2. Make it Functional

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There’s a constant tradeoff in interior design between aesthetics and functionality. But you don’t have to choose one at the expense of the other. It’s possible to design a room that’s both beautiful and useful.

As you attempt to make your house a home, making it functional will go a long way towards putting your mind at ease. That’s why it’s recommended to choose furniture and decor that you can actually use (as opposed to just look at).

If you’re in a home with limited space, functional might mean saving space while simultaneously making the room more flexible. For example, Murphy beds are great for bonus rooms or small living areas. They allow you to use the room as living space during the day and sleeping corridors at night. Likewise, a dining room table with leaf extension allows you to maximize space in the room year-round, while still being able to accomodate a lot of guests for holiday gatherings.

3. Nail the Entryway

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“Don’t underestimate the inviting power of some good curb appeal. Winter’s been tough for everyone (and may still be raging where you are) but a quick front stoop clean and a bright welcome mat does wonders,” designer Adrienne Breaux mentions. “We’re also suckers for cute signs by the front door that say ‘hello.’”

The front hallway or entryway is also important. You want to feel a warm and friendly vibe as soon as you step in. Some fresh paint, lively plants, and a cute bench or coat rack can help.

4. Paint the Walls to Your Liking

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There’s a reason kids often ask each other what their favorite color is. Colors are highly personal and they say a lot about us as individuals. So if the previous homeowner painted the walls with colors you don’t like, feel free to change them. In fact, this should be one of the first things you do.

“Walls can be painted with very little experience or skill. The most common transition is to go from dark and warm colors to lighter and cooler colors,” Green Residential mentions. “Not only does this make a room brighter and more cheery, but it can also change the perceived size of the space.”

If you’re going to paint a bunch of walls, invest in the right supplies. Good quality paint brushes and rollers, heavy-duty drop cloths (as opposed to flimsy plastic sheets), and good edging/trim tools are worth their weight in gold. It’ll make the process go much faster, and the end result will be something you’re proud of.

5. Install New Light Fixtures

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Most homes have boring builder-grade light fixtures that look cheap and basic. By upgrading to newer, luxury light fixtures, you can change the entire look and feel of your house.

For starters, pay attention to hanging fixtures in the kitchen and dining areas. For a couple of hundred dollars, you can turn what was a boring eyesore into the focal point of the room.

In addition to aesthetics, upgrading lighting creates ambiance, adds value to your home, reduces energy costs, enhances security, and improves visibility.

When it comes to floor lamps, table lamps, and vanity lighting over a bathroom mirror, you might not even have to replace it. Sometimes a simple swap of the shade or housing can produce an instant aesthetic upgrade.

6. Skip Ikea, Shop Flea Markets

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Ikea and other big box stores might make shopping for home decor easy and convenient, but they’re also predictable. Even if you do find something cute, you’ll know that thousands of other homes have the same item. How’s that for trying to be unique?

A better option is to shop at flea markets and antique malls. You’ll find unique items at a less expensive price point. That’s a win-win!

“Here’s the thing about adding vintage items to your house- it is an affordable way to have something totally unique,” home decor blogger Ashley Wilson writes. “Plus, it’s good for the environment! I also just love that when you have a vintage, it adds a sense of age to space. If a room is all brand new, it lacks a depth that vintage instantly injects.”

The moral of the story is this: Skip the big trip to Ikea and plan a relaxing day browsing local antique malls, flea markets, and thrift shops. You’ll find something that speaks to you. And if you’re willing to get your hands dirty with some sanding, painting, and refinishing,  the options are even more limitless!

Give Your House New Life

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When you move into a house, you’re essentially moving into a space that other people have called home for years and trying to instantly turn it into your own space. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t feel like it’s yours after the first few days or weeks.

The process of making a house into a home can take months. Apply some of these tips and give yourself time to embrace your new surroundings. With enough attention to detail, you’ll eventually fall in love with your space.

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