1. The essential stores to visit. Your first stop should always be IKEA, the best thing to come out of Sweden by a mile. Get what you can from here before going elsewhere. Don’t forget to leave yourself a day to actually put the furniture bits together. Also, check out the local dollar (or whatever currency you use) store for cheap kitchenware and bathroom bits.
2. Budget. When planning the financials, account for sofas and mattresses being the most expensive but also the most important buys. These are the only two things you shouldn’t be tight on – make sure they are comfy!
3. Get crafty. Make your own wall art, up-cycle old treasures and use photos to fill empty spaces. I printed off lots of old photos, laminated them, attached magnetic strip to the backs and put them all over our fridge and radiators.
4. Become a minimalist. It is always tempting to fill every nook and cranny but you can always build up. Start with the bare necessities then buy things as and when you need them. We bought a dining table, from IKEA of course, to fill some space but never use it – what a waste!
5. Fill your flat with trinkets from your travels. It’s always nice when the things around you have interesting stories and meanings attached them and it also makes your flat unique to you. We bought a beautiful chainsaw-carved wooden bear from Alaska to welcome our visitors.
6. Assign a place in the flat for everything when you buy it. This avoids things being shoved in random places or lost and mess building up. Think about where you are going to keep boring essentials like the vacuum cleaner and laundry airer.
7. Think about the long-term. For example, buy fake plants over real ones and go to stores like Costco for bulk items.
8. Use hand-me-downs. Take what you can from family and friends to fill your flat. New does not necessarily mean better but it definitely means more expensive. It will also remind you of loved ones every time you look at or use it.
9. Lighting. Fairy lights aren’t just for Christmas any more. Do consider the colour of the lights and how you are going to hang them up though. It took us buying three different sets of fairy lights before we found ones we liked.