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The decorator's secret to make your first home magazine worthy

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Updated: 6/07/2013 12:19 pm

Whether you've signed a lease agreement or purchased a house, moving into your first home is an exciting time. For many people, it's their first opportunity to express their personal style by decorating their own space.

Whatever your taste - contemporary or classic, modern or rustic - you want your first home's interior decor to look polished and put-together. And you'd probably rather not spend a bundle achieving that look.

Do-it-yourself home decor is popular for exactly those reasons. By doing the design and implementation yourself, you can save a lot of money. Plus, many people find that doing it themselves makes decorating their homes an even more personal and rewarding experience.

So where do you start if you want to turn your first home into a decorator's showcase? Focusing on a few key areas can yield high-impact results.

Start with the walls; they're the largest design element in any room, and repainting them is an easy, high-payoff way to begin redecorating. Choose colors that not only speak to you, but that also make sense with key furniture pieces you already have. For example, if you have a great sofa that you love, consider choosing a color or two from the pattern and using that on the walls.

Another smart paint strategy is to do three walls in a restful, neutral color and then spice things up with a more vibrant hue on a fourth "accent" wall. Whatever color you choose, remember to buy the best quality paint you can afford. It will last longer and look great.

Another option for dressing up your walls is to use removable murals. Wall murals are a favorite design trick of interior decorators. Repositionable murals, like MuralsYourWay.com's SmartStick line, make it easy to decorate with a mural - minus the commitment or expense of having one professionally painted. The moisture-resistant murals can be placed and then repositioned anywhere in the house, even the bathroom or kitchen (where Mediterranean wall murals are hugely popular).

Once you've gussied up your walls, it's time to look down and think about the floor. Flooring is the second largest design element in a room and it forms the foundation for your other design decisions.

If you've got the budget and the gumption, you can remove and replace old carpet, re-stain worn wood and retile dated floors. If your means and your DIY skills are more modest, you can always cover up unappealing carpet with throw rugs that speak to your tastes. Carpet tiles are also a great way to get the look and feel of new carpet without the expense and installation challenges of wall-to-wall. And bathrooms and kitchens can both benefit from a new flooring of easy-to-install vinyl tiles.

Finally, accessories are the icing on the cake when it comes to your interior decor. Even if your furniture is mature, you can make it look young again with new accent pillows and slipcovers. It's possible to find reasonably priced artwork to fit nearly every design theme these days, whether you look online or hit one of the big box home design stores.

Window treatments are another accessory that will give you more bang for the buck. You can get a designer look for less when you dress up cheap, store-bought panels with some personal touches.

Turning your first home into a decorator's showcase doesn't have to cost a lot. A sense of adventure, some creativity and the willingness to do the work yourself can have your home looking like something from a TV interior design show in no time.

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