Welcome to this month’s installment of Dear Urbaneer where our clients put us to the test with their real estate questions. This time around we are helping first time homebuyers prepare for their move by offering guidance on the process to best equip and furnish a new residence. This is the third in a series of 'Homeowner Essentials' which help buyers to prepare, protect, and nurture their home to the fullest. First we covered How To Prepare Your Home For Emergencies and then we posted the Essential Check List For Maintaining Your Home & Garden.
After a long property search, I finally found the “one”. I’ve done a great deal of preparation getting ready to move and am excited for the day that I actually get to start making my home my own. However, I’m also getting overwhelmed at the prospect of outfitting and furnishing a space which is substantially larger than my current rental. Do you have any recommendations on how I might make my transition (and my move) easier? How should I best approach this?
Signed, Ill-Equipped To Equip
Congratulations on your purchase and your imminent move! You are smart to be proactive in trying to manage your move and organize necessities, because as any homeowner will tell you - moving is stressful. In fact, at the end of this post I'll provide you several links which offer you insight on how to prepare for the move, organize the actual move and maintain your property once you've moved, which will help reduce your stress and transition into the next chapter of your life!
As for my recommendation on how to equip and furnish your new space, read on!
First, when tackling a project that involves multiple spaces, create a plan which is organized by room and by floor (if it's multi-level). Itemize the rooms in the same order as one might typically walk through the dwelling (if you can visualize space a floor plan will also be helpful). For example, you enter into a foyer and move into the entertainment space, followed by the kitchen, possibly outdoors (to a barbecue or alfresco dining) and then into the private zones, like the washrooms, a home office and the sleeping quarters. Additional spaces might include a media room, your garage or a storage shed or locker. By breaking it down into rooms and zones-for-living, you're less likely to be overwhelmed and you can be more systematic in your execution.
Second, create a spreadsheet that lists what you currently have and what you need, organized by the rooms most important to you. Start by actively cataloguing what you already have in your existing residence, which can help determine what you might donate or dispose of instead of moving with you. Incidentally, if you're selling your existing property, the best time to pare down is before you list your property. Here's a blog called How To Prepare Your Home For Sale that includes our step-by-step guide.
Obviously, if you are moving into a larger space, you may require multiples of the same item. And if you have budget limitations, you're going to have to prioritize what items you should acquire first and which ones might wait - which may become a further 'future' purchase list. Personally, I'd sink my money into a quality bed, linens, and cotton bath towels first, and get the essentials in my kitchen, and a dining table before I started spending money on other furnishings. Put your health and well-being first.
Keep a final copy of all the items your placing in your residence for your files - and ensure you update the list over time so you have a comprehensive summary of all of your belongings. Why? It will serve you well should you have to provide an inventory of your contents (and their value) to your insurer in the event your sustain some damage due to an accidental fire or flood in your future. (See The Importance Of Accurate Homeowner Insurance Coverage)
Third, you might then combine lists from each room that align with each other in terms of complementary products. Once that's done, it's often easiest to visit one of the big box stores for a one-stop shop! Stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Pier1, and IKEA will likely offer great prices and quality wares for kitchens, baths and window coverings. And if you're missing any items at the end of it those shops - try Winners or HomeSense - as you can pick up some gems there! You might also go to destinations like Canadian Tire to get all your tools, cleaning supplies and products, and items like picture hooks, painter's tape, and light bulbs!
Here are some room-by-room tips (featuring images from my own residences - both past and present!)
Many of us don't have the luxury of a large foyer, but it's still a space to make a first impression while offering utility. If you don't have a closet, buy an item with coat hooks (in the photo of my vacation rental The Black House in Charlottetown, PEI I used sailing cleats for hooks to hold the guest beach bag and coats). If you do have a closet, spend the money on a shoe rack to help organize your space. As a realtor who shows a lot of Toronto real estate, I can attest that nothing screams 'lack of storage' than walking into a place littered with footwear. Here's one of my past posts called Welcome To The Foyer that offers an insider's point of view and, if you love a good design blog, here's The Centre Hall Makeover which showcases a transformation of the hall in The Captain's Quarters at The Black House - an 1880s vintage manse in PEI (including using a church pew as a bench to put on shoes and boots).
For the Entertainment Space(s):
Aside from your entertainment units and comfortable seating, there are other things you’ll want to have to enhance this hub of your home. You'll want lighting for different tasks (reading, overhead, and mood), tables for remote controls, books and a place to put your cocktail glasses, plus a credenza for storage so your place doesn't get too cluttered. Although many of us use our tablets for entertainment, you may be adding a flat screen tv or sound system to these spaces. Unless you have an actual media room, make them less obtrusive so they don't capture all the attention.
These posts are my must reads for those who want some lessons in design - including my journey renovating My Movie House loft shown in the photo above:
If you have outdoor space - and the season is suitable for addressing it - consider investing some funds into making it show its best as it will provide enjoyment and serve as an investment opportunity as I recently wrote about in How To Assess The Value Of Outdoor Living Space. I like to make my outdoor spaces a combination of permanent pieces like a lounger and quality planter boxes and pieces of indoor furnishings that I can bring out as required (like dining chairs or a side table as seen in the photo of my Movie House terrace above). Here are some additional tips on getting top dollar and utility in your outdoor space in How Green Does Your Garden Show?, Why Outdoor Lighting Offers A Great Return On Investment and - for personal enjoyment and resale value the merits on a quality gas barbecue in Sizzle And Spice. In my Movie House Loft terrace in the photo above, I had privacy screens made from recycled wood and aluminium siding, and had the space beautifully lit which was perfect for summer evenings with drinks.
For the Kitchen:
If you are a home chef, you are probably well stocked with pretty much everything you need as a consequence of your hobby. If you are not a cook by nature, you may still need some essentials on hand.
First, it's always best to take some time and go through a retailer that specializes in kitchen products just so you can become familiar with everything that is available to you, because there is a lot of product! Start out by purchasing the basics - like eating and cooking utensils, dishes, glassware, bakeware, pots and pans, food storage containers and a bottle opener and corkscrew (Hello Wine!). If you drink tea or coffee items like a kettle, tea pot and coffee maker will be required, and then there's the small appliances you may need such as a toaster, or mixer.
Don't forget serving dishes, placemats, tea towels and cotton napkins. Plus candle holders, a flower vase(s), and maybe a wine decanter.
Click here for more comprehensive kitchen must-haves: "Essential Kitchen Tools Checklist", "A Shopping List for Your First Week in Your New Kitchen" and "Must-Have Kitchen Tools".
Love kitchens? Here's some of my past blogs (above is the kitchen of The Garden Suite in my vacation rental - The Black House in Charlottetown, PEI) which offer my insights and guidance on kitchen design and decor in:
For the Washroom(s):
You can make your washroom fashionable and functional by stocking up on the basics. Unless you have a shower door, you’ll need a shower curtain. Don’t forget a wastepaper basket, soap dish and toothbrush holder. You’ll be grateful to have a plunger and a toilet brush within easy reach, but either store them under the counter or find a cute storage container for these. This may be a good spot for a laundry hamper. Hanging extra hooks over the door can give you extra out-of-sight storage. Speaking of storage, if you are short on space, the bathroom is a great place to store towels and linens in funky storage cabinets or shelving. Don’t forget lots of cotton bath and hand towels, along with a bath mat. This is a good room to store your scale.
Incidentally, if your washoom needs some TLC, here's a great post on my Student Mentorship Site Houseporn.ca called Decorating A Washroom On A Budget. In the two washrooms above, the top image shows my Swell Dwell washroom where I installed a rectangular sink on a chest of drawers, replaced the toilet, installed loose pendant lighting, a full length mirror, and kept the white bathfitter tub and formica bath surround for utility (with a new 'rainshower head with water wand' that's a well-spent $60 at Bed, Bath and Beyond). In the second washroom located in The Garden Suite of my PEI vacation rental The Black House, I installed the same rectangular sink on a cabinet from Wicker Emporium, the same rainshower head with water wand, and the same full length of mirror to help visually expand the space. A new soaking tub (always spend the extra dollars to install a deeper tub with a sloped back) and toilet in white (keep it classic), are my go-to's when renovating.
For the Bedroom(s):
So, while the obvious is a bed, pillows, sheets and blankets (I'm a huge fan of having an electric mattress warmer too!), I recommend you prioritize and invest in getting the best possible rest. After all, research shows that being well-rested is one of the most essential aspects for healthy, balanced living Here's my own personal journey making this happen in Sweet Dreams For Bed Head. Once that's taken care of, ask yourself what else you need to make your bedroom a comfortable and convenient sanctuary? As you can see in each of these bedrooms in my vacation rental in Charlottetown, PEI, I like to include bedside tables, a small desk and a wardrobe for extra storage.
Hang a full length mirror on the wall or on the back of the door, or one that's in a wardrobe. In your closet, make sure that you have hangers (wood ones are best). Depending on the configuration, you may want to add extra shelving or storage units too. Shoe racks and storage bins will come in handy.
Use your bedroom to display your favourite artwork. Hang it there for just you to enjoy when you are unwinding at the end of the day.
Here's a post from Apartment Therapy called Setting Up Home: 5 Essentials for a First Bedroom and if you want a little design fix here's two of my favourite bedroom make-overs to date in I Love A Built-In Bed and how a 'Ship's Sleeping Cabin' was my inspiration for transforming my Movie House Loft bedroom. The bedroom photos above are three of the 7 bedrooms in The Black House -- my vacation rental triplex in PEI.
For Your Laundry Room
You’ll of course need a laundry basket and laundry soap, but don’t forget a drying rack, an iron and an ironing board. Stock up on bleach, dryer sheets and fabric softener too.
Do you store your cleaners in your laundry room? Wherever they are stored, you need a mop, broom, bucket, vacuum cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, wood and/or stainless steel cleaner and of course, rubber gloves. Green cleaners are best if you can find one that you like.
The shelter 'zine Real Simple offers this post called Set Up an Efficient Laundry Room. The photo above is the nicest laundry room I've ever had!
On Your Windows
Those windows aren’t going to block the light and give you privacy by themselves. If you’ve already got the measurements, get your blinds and/or drapes purchased before you move in, because you’ll want to install them pretty quickly. There are inexpensive window treatments that can serve you initially, especially if you're ultimately going to embark on a significant design or decor makeover. Don’t forget the window hardware! In my Button Factory loft above, I added these diaphaneous linen draperies on a custom arched railing which allowed to create a 'foyer' while providing privacy. Here's a post on it called Don’t Be Too Revealing which includes that tale of being caught in the buff when, walking down my stairs buck-naked from my bedroom to plug in the kettle for my morning cup, a female Jehovah's Witness knocked on my door and peered through the window.
And if you're on a budget - or need something temporary until you decorate your space - here's some inexpensive window treatments on pinterest.
Tools and Utility
We did cover off some of the essential tools that you’ll need for your home and garden in “How To Maintain Your Home And Garden: The Essentials”, but here is a refresher with some extras thrown in.
You’ll need a basic tool kit and an emergency kit. Duct tape is a homeowner’s best friend for a variety of reasons. Other must-haves include batteries, flashlights, a plug-in CO2 detector (one for each floor of your home), extension cords, surge protectors and candles and matches.
Is your checklist still not complete? Here are some other links that can help you fill in the blanks:
Are you imminently making a move? Here's some of our past blogs worth your time:
Purchasing a house? Here's our posts on how to organize the maintenance, repairs and renovations of your property
At Urbaneer, we support you through the purchase and sale, but we also support you as a homeowner, making your new house into your “home”. We are here to help!
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
- we're here to earn your trust, then your business -
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*Love Canadian Housing? Check out Steve's Student Mentorship site called Houseporn.ca which focuses on architecture, landscape, design, product and real estate in Canada!