My living room is missing something, but I don´t know what it is.
I am tired of buying things that don´t go together.
I bought couches and tables, but my living room still does not look like I picture it.
I don´t know what else to add to my room to make it look well-put-together.

That “missing something” is the syndrome I call the “Unfinished Home Syndrome” and if your house has it, it is not alone. 

The main furniture pieces in a room define its purpose and traffic flow, but most of them, on their own, do not infuse a space with personality, with that “je ne sais quoi”, or with the finishing touches that elevate a design from “clean, nice home” to “wow, this looks amazing”. And not that you need to amaze or impress others. I am talking about YOU falling in love with your own home.

There are mainly 2 reasons for the unfinishedness in homes. The number one is budget, and trailing right behind is lack of know-how. A recent poll on my Instagram account revealed that 75% feel that finances prevent them from bringing in the wow-factor home. If you find yourself in this category, I have 1 tip, 1 hack, and 1 shortcut for you. If you are part of the 25%, I highly recommend my free guide: How to Accessorize Your First Living Room. Download for free here.

TIP: IF YOU DREAM IT, GET A PRICE ON IT

Have I told you about my very first house and all the reno dreams I had dancing in my head? From new floors to bathroom makeovers, from gutting the kitchen to opening it up to the family room. But of course, I had to do it all at once because if I was going to install new floors, I might as well take down the wall that separated the spaces. And if I was doing that, I sure had to change the cabinets and the countertops too. Or did I?

I had no idea how much this project would cost. I just knew it represented a lot of money, the money we didn’t have. The DREAM was very much alive, but the time was never the right one. We kept waiting, and the waiting turned into 5 years when we decided to sell. Of course, we renovated! But someone else enjoyed the brand-new kitchen and the refreshed bathrooms. Not me! If I could talk to that Jessica, I would tell her what I am about to tell you today:

Find out how much the renovation will cost, and then, formulate a plan to get there. Then, figure out how to tackle the project in stages that fit your budget and your timeline.

I would also tell her:

Jessica, the perfect time may never come.
The savings will not magically appear without a plan.
The plan cannot be determined if there is no amount to plan for.
Enjoy your home now before you have to sell it.

So, got any dreams for your space? Go get a quote. It won’t cost you much. Actually, most quotes are free. Do not worry about what colors, or tiles, or carpets to choose. For the sake of a quote, select a mid-range price. You can always change your selection when you are ready to proceed. Most places will need the square footage of your space or the dimensions and layout of the kitchen/bathroom. Just march down Home Depot or call a contractor, and if your reno consists of new furniture and artwork, you can find average prices online at no cost to you. Remember, all you need is an approximate price to get your plan going.

HACK: THE 10% FUND

When furnishing a home, everyone starts with the most needed and predominant pieces of furniture in a room. The couch in the living room, the table and chairs in the dining, and the bed in the bedroom. Then come the accent tables, some photos on the walls, and the occasional area rug or pillows. How come it still looks unfinished? It is because homeowners either don’t know what to buy or don’t have the money to buy accessories.

If in the first group, you definitely need to download my free guide. But if you fall in the second group, hear me out and reserve 1-10% of your furnishing budget for accessories. The higher the total cost of the project, the lower the percentage of your FUND. 

For example:

  • In a $20K kitchen renovation, separate at least 200.00 – 500.00 for accessories like plants, cutting boards, artwork, plants, and vases. Add more money if you need stools, pretty hardware, and new light fixtures unless they are already included in the budget. If open shelves are part of the design, they also need to be styled correctly or they will look unfinished. 
  • In a 15K bathroom reno, $500.00 would do for brand new towels, floor mats, baskets, accessories, and artwork. If you need to purchase new light fixtures, that fund should be higher. 
  • On the other hand, $500.00 in a living room refresh will go a long way to purchase one of the following: framed art, or a rug, or drapes and pillows, or plants and frames.

If you are reading this and screaming on the other side of the screen that you don’t have $500.00 to spend only on accessories, then downgrade your options and go the thrift-shop way. Take a look at the photo below. Everything you see on the coffee table, except for the Asian brushes and the Mexican plaque, totals under 100.00. The tray, the stackable golden boxes, the books, and the glass sphere were thrifted. The glass display box is from Pottery Barn. A similar one can be found here

Can you reserve money for decorations? Yes, you can. Accessories will give you the finishing touches your house needs. Don’t leave them out when planning your budget.

SHORTCUT: DO ONE ROOM AT A TIME

The reason why a home may feel unfinished is because it is. Pick one room and finish it. Choose the one to focus on based on the level of impact this space has on your life. Someone working from home will put the home office at the top of the list, while a family with kids needing a space where to study should focus on their rooms or on a study area. And so on.

How do you eat pizza? One slice at a time. How can you finish your home? One room at a time, one wall at a time, one corner at a time. You have heard me say this before: the key is to actually do something about it instead of waiting for the perfect time to renovate. You deserve to love your very first home from the moment you take possession. You can make it happen for you!

Jessica Velazquez designer

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