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The first task when furnishing a new home is to prioritise the key items that will be most beneficial to your daily enjoyment of your home and support your well-being. Invest where you will spend most of your time, particularly in a good, comfy sofa and a quality bed and mattress. If you work from home, even occasionally, a supportive work chair is essential to protect your back.

The temptation when buying or renting your very first home is to rush in to buying cheap, flat-pack style furniture to fill the space, but it's worth looking for solid, second-hand furniture on online marketplaces or at your local auction house to add instant style and individuality to your home. All flat-pack will certainly end up in landfill before too long whereas look how much value and appeal once-mocked, mid-century ‘classics’ now have! If pieces are looking tired, look online for inspiration to transform them, often using nothing more than a tin of paint. As with DIY, there’s something very satisfying about getting creative with your own furnishings.

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One large statement piece will have more impact than several small ones, so choosing an extra-large print or mirror for the wall can be a cost-effective way to decorate and a useful way to add your own style to a rental property where painting and wallpapering isn’t an option.

For dull and soulless rooms, a collection of houseplants is a perfect way to add instant ‘good energy’ and life. As well as purifying the air, the uplifting effect of keeping houseplants is well documented. Choosing large, mature plants will reduce the likelihood of them dying on you! But do keep them in a well-lit position.

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One of the first things I do in a new home is to take down old curtains and replace them with slatted wooden blinds, or, if the budget allows, shutters to maximise the light entering the room and feeling of space. Honestly, a room can feel twice the size once curtains are removed. In a rental property, replacing heavy, old curtains (boxed up until you move on and need to re-hang them) with light, simple drapes can also make a huge difference to light levels.

Finally.. enjoy the process! In these times of spiralling prices, you will have had to work very hard to purchase or rent your first property so revel in every minute of having your own home and have fun making it your own.

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With over 30 years' experience as an interior design professional, property renovator and kitchen specialist, Julia specialises in interior transformations that uplift and energise to have a positive impact on wellbeing.


Julia is best known as the interior designer on BBC1’s hugely popular DIY SOS, and has taken part in eight series, including a Children in Need special. Julia is also a regular on ITV1’s 60 Minute Makeover series, having been on the interior design team for nine series and ITV’s “Rebuild Our Home”, with Nicky Campbell. Over the past 12 years she has made regular contributions to ‘GMTV’, ‘This Morning’, ‘Live with Gabby’, ‘BBC Breakfast’ and the ‘Alan Titchmarsh Show’.

Julia Kendell
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