Post details: Settling In


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Settling In

These tips can help make your new house feel like home -- only better.

A Fresh Start
Although moving can be unsettling, it also offers opportunities for starting over. Now is the time to unstuff closets and finally get rid of items that just take up space. And what better time to reassess your family's lifestyle? Perhaps you'll want to gather everyone together and discuss how your needs have changed and how your new home can accommodate them.

Once you know what you need and expect from your new home, you're ready to make some decorating decisions. Try to make most of them before you move, if possible. A good place to start is by taking stock of furnishings.

Weeding Out
Sort through your furniture, lamps, artworks, rugs, pillows, and other odds and ends. Which things do you use and enjoy? Which items have been stored away indefinitely, or serve only to collect dust? Consider selling unused furnishings and accessories. The profit will help offset new decorating costs.

Look at your "stuff" with new eyes. One idea is to first situate your furniture, then take all your accessories and experiment. Most people can't afford to buy new accessories with each move, but being creative with items you already have can achieve the same result.

The Floor Plan
Furniture First

A major decision in any new home is how to arrange your furnishings. To help determine where to put various pieces of furniture, you can create your own floor plan. All you need is graph paper and a pair of scissors. Using the graph paper, draw each room to scale, so that each square equals one foot of space. Be sure to indicate the approximate location of doors and windows, and show the direction in which doors open, too. Also include other features, such as fireplaces, built-in desks or storage units, and bookshelves. As you draw the room, keep in mind where electric outlets, telephone jacks, and television hookups are located.

Next, measure the size and shape of major pieces of furniture. Then use our Arrange-a-Room online planner to decide the best way to arrange the furniture. (Or you can cut their shapes from graph paper, using the same scale you used for the room, one square equaling one foot.) Another advantage of such planning is that you'll know where to place the largest and heaviest pieces of furniture as they're brought in the door of your new home. Fill in with smaller items as you decide where you want them to go.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules dictating where furnishings should be placed. As you analyze where to put your belongings, consider using some of the furniture in a new and different role. For example, perhaps a favorite living room chair would be more at home in a bedroom at the new house. Or the dining room cabinet might work nicely as a dresser in the extra bedroom.

If space is at a premium, make some of the rooms into multipurpose areas. Some judicious planning can help you get maximum use from limited space. In a living/dining room, for instance, you might define the areas by using a hutch or other large piece of furniture as a divider. Add a sofa bed, and your family room can double as a guest room.

Be sure to leave enough legroom around furniture. After all, the goal of a workable room arrangement is to make it easy to sit comfortably and move around unimpeded. For example, in the living room try to plan your main conversation area to seat six people or so within easy listening distance of one another. In the dining room, allow enough space around the table so that you can seat guests and serve them with ease.

Redoing the Decor
Besides furnishings, your decorating decisions will involve the windows, walls, and floors of your new home. Since moving itself is a big expense, costs for redecorating must be carefully considered. Having a realistic idea of how much you can spend for each decorating project is essential. Even if you're not ready to make long-term decorating commitments, the windows, walls, and floors of your new home offer ways to achieve a fresh look without investing a large amount of time or money. Look around your new home. Which features of the present decor would you most like to change?

Finding a Focal Point
Every room needs a focal point, something that draws you into the room. It could be an architectural feature, such as a fireplace, or a window with a dramatic view. You can even create a focal point: an unusual window treatment, an attractive furniture ensemble, or a striking display of art. Whatever the focal point, you'll want to accentuate it with your furniture arrangement.

Checklist for Comfort
A Cozy Kitchen

In many households the kitchen has replaced the "family room" as the heart of all home activities. You'll want to make it into a gathering place that is as homey, efficient, and safe as possible with all the right appliances.

Hot Water System
Next, have a look at your water heater. Make sure it is the correct size for your family and in good working order. Replacing this unit can result in increased savings to you, as well as increased comfort and convenience for your family.

Heating and Cooling
These are a major energy expense for most homes. To figure out if it's running in top condition, determine the SEER rating for your air conditioning and heating unit. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a rating of the unit's energy efficiency; the higher the rating, the more efficient. If your unit's SEER is under 8, it is not considered energy efficient. Also, make sure the size and cleanliness of your ductwork is adequate, and that the thermostat and controls are operating correctly.

Laundry Room
Make sure the washer and dryer are appropriate for your needs. A too-small washer or dryer can result in overuse, costing you energy dollars. Those that are too large can waste water or heat. Also, check that the washer drains properly and that the dryer is vented out of the house.

Openings to the Outside
Take a look at your windows, doors, vents, and any other areas where your home opens to the outdoors. If you see cracks or feel air moving, seal with caulk or weather stripping. You'll prevent heat or cool air loss, reduce the entry of dust and even make your home quieter.

Better Homes and Gardens



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