How do you want your dream home to look like? How do you create it? This process starts even before you found a place to buy.

After going through the process of buying a home, there follows a time of creativity, fun, exploration, experimentation and the stresses that come along with a major life change.

If you buy a property which is already standing, you kind of fit your needs in the spaces already provided. If you start with air, the sky’s the limit. For some, this is exciting; for others, it’s a nightmare.

Sir Terence Conran, architect, designer, entrepreneur, author, and the man behind the furniture store Habitat, said that before you even begin to think of how you want your new home to look like, you must first KNOW YOURSELF AND HOW YOU LIVE. This advice is true for both scenarios – an existing property or one yet to be built.

These are two books that I enjoyed reading years ago.

Small Spaces: Inspiring Ideas and Creative Solutions
The Ultimate House Book: For Home Design in the Twenty-First Century

1.  Explore the Style that Appeals to You

Let’s limit this post to a home that already exists.

When I was searching for a condo to buy, I was already dreaming about how I wanted my new home to look like. For me, it had to be different from my previous home abroad, which was an eclectic loft, contemporary-cum-minimalist-cum-Asian. In other words, maskipaps, or anything goes.

Now that I was in the Philippines, I wanted to use as many local furnishings as I could, and I wanted color! Not an explosion of color, but there should be more than just neutrals.

I loved this part of the process because it’s so creative and allowed me to dream as I tried on different interior styles in my head. I discovered new things and new places,  What’s great about this phase is that you can do it for FREE for as long as you like, and as many times as you like!

Go and visit as many furnitures stores and home depots that you can. The only major drawback to this is that you have to deal with the traffic. But hey, it’s YOUR HOME, and that deserves loving attention!

Surf on the internet, pin images to a board, mine was entitled “My Dream Home”, read online magazines. Or buy those magazines you like and have the satisfaction of turning the pages, cutting out those images that you find interesting, and making a scrapbook out of them.

There’s so much inspiration everywhere. Try different styles and see what resonates.

2.  Have a Budget

When you’ve found the style you want for your interiors, make a budget. These are the following costs that I considered:

  • the professional fee of an architect and/or interior designer
  • construction costs + 20% for budget overruns
  • the cost of furnishings and accessories

If you need to rent a place temporarily while work is being done in your new condo, you should also include that in your budget. Just remember that most of the time, construction projects run into delays, so you should again prepare for that possibility by creating a buffer.

If you’re a creative maven, even if it’s only in your mind, then skip the architect/interior designer, unless you need to do major renovations like knocking down walls, redesigning a bathroom (e.g. changing the tiles or sanitation fixtures), or kitchen (e.g. changing cabinetry, adding electrical outlets). A rule of thumb is to hire an expert to do plumbing, masonry, carpentry, and electrical works. But if you are a DIY guru aside from being a pseudo-designer, go for it. Be prepared though for a lot more stress. If you’re working full-time, just know that you’re heading for a burnout.

3.  Stick to Your Budget

There will be temptations, especially if you have an architect/interior designer who has expensive tastes, and he’ll show you all those beautifully designed, posh furniture and lighting fixtures. If money is coming out of your ears, by all means, buy! But if you’re a working girl who often dreams but is practical to the core, challenge him to come up with alternatives that are within your budget.

Especially if you need to buy everything, including home appliances down to plates, it is better to keep within your constraints. This is for your future peace of mind.

Look for bargains, even in garage sales. Negotiate for discounts. And definitely, do NOT max out your credit card.

4.  Buy the Essentials First and Furnish Your Apartment Slowly

Make a choice from the start what things you need to have immediately, and which pieces can wait.

Don’t scrimp on the essentials. Don’t go overboard either. Consider every purchase. Avoid trendy stuff. Make sure that not only do you need it, but you can really feel that this is a piece that will stay with you for a very, very long time. Decide which pieces you will really invest in.

Examine a potential investment closely and thoroughly: Does it have a solid frame? Is it made of non-hazardous, durable, sustainable (even better) materials? Is the craftsmanship good, if not excellent? Can you see the quality with one look?

The good thing about taking your time is that you avoid buying things that look good, but would fall apart after a short time. Or you avoid ending up with a matchy-matchy kind of decor, that over-coordinated look that would make your future guests think they are in a theme park.

5.  Use Social Media to Find Stuff You Can Use

Put social media to good use so that you save money. Ask family and friends if they have furnishings that they want to get rid of for a song. 

Don’t be greedy though. Be careful that you don’t buy things because they’re nice and inexpensive. Just get those things that you need. You really wouldn’t want to start living in a new home that’s already cluttered.





















Annie is the Managing Editor of Let it B | MyBoysen Blog. An unrepentant workaholic, she runs this blog and her own company Talking Lions ( She thrives on collaborating with people who are good at what they do, and working together with them to create something special. Annie learned interior styling while managing her own wholesale business in the Netherlands, importing high-end, handmade home furnishings to stock four outlets and a showroom in the country.

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