Giving your place a fresh makeover is always exciting, whether you are moving into a new home, or planning on fixing up various spaces in your current abode. It takes a lot of energy flipping through home and style magazines, scouring Pinterest boards for design inspiration, not to mention trips to every supply store imaginable, and even having consultations with professionals or knowledgeable friends.

A common contested issue that sparks a great debate among homeowners is deciding what to do first: paint your walls, or buy furniture. The answer is not so cut-and-dry; it changes depending on your priorities and finances. Here’s how to make the choice that works best for you.

What’s Your Budget?

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Sprucing up your home not only means you have to invest your time — you also have to invest some money. Buying a beautiful hand-crafted wooden table, or that lovely leather couch is a significant expense on its own. There is no question that nice pieces of furniture add an elegant, modern or rustic aesthetic to your living spaces, and as such you might want them to be the main focal point. But, regardless of if you are buying one stand-alone piece or replacing all the furniture in a room, the cost adds up.

Paint, on the other hand, is less of a financial investment. It still isn’t cheap — it may run you a couple hundred bucks or more, depending on how many rooms you are painting — but it’s definitely more affordable than putting all your money towards a designer chair. And, paint is the easiest way to give your space a new look. Think about what matters most to you, and where you want to spend your money first.

Making Bold Decisions

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Have you always loved bright, dynamic colours? Painting accent walls and picking out complementary décor will liven up your space, giving it that extra flare. If you are dead set on painting your bedroom a vibrant teal blue and you’d be happy purchasing furniture later, don’t let others deter you from driving your artistic vision forward. That said, selecting a rich, colour-popping piece of furniture first can provide a similar, eye-catching result without the use of a bold paint. It all depends on your priorities.

However, keep in mind that it is less costly to repaint your walls if you get tired of the bold colour. Returning furniture may not always be an option, as some sales are final, so read the fine print. If you get bored of that bright red sectional, you may end up spending more money replacing it with another one if you can’t switch the upholstery (and even if you can, you’ll still be stuck with that added expense).

Try Before You Buy

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Looking at paint chips or fabric swatches in the store is great, but it won’t help you decide on a colour scheme. Never buy or decide on your colours in-store. Why? Lighting affects everything and brings out colour undertones, which are subtle hues of other colours that pop out underneath the primary colour (also known as a mass tone). Not all colours go well together, and undertones with green or pink, whether it’s in your paint or in your fabric, can be especially hard to match.

When deciding on paint, it’s best to buy a sample and paint a swatch on your wall first. Examine it during different times of day, with the lights on or off, before you commit. With fabric, you can order samples online or ask for some in stores, to help you determine what textures, materials, and colours will work in your space. Mixing and matching fabric and paint swatches in your home is a fun way of figuring out what goes well together, before putting your credit card down.

Find Furniture You Love

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Since there are endless colours to choose from when selecting a paint versus fabric, choose the furniture you love that goes with your personal style and tastes. It can be tough to find comfortable couches or chairs if your colour palette is limited based on the paint you chose. So, making the case for purchasing furniture first: focus on comfort, style, whatever aesthetic you prefer, and worry about finding a complementary paint colour afterwards. You definitely won’t be as limited with this approach and can have fun experimenting with the look you want to create. Invest in a piece you enjoy, rather than settling for mediocre furniture to match the walls.

So, what’s the bottom line? There is no right or wrong answer to buying furniture or painting your walls first because it comes down to personal preference and your budget. However, when purchasing furniture first, once you find a paint colour that will work on accentuating or complementing those pieces, be sure to paint your walls before moving your furniture into the space. It’s easier to paint without bulky items in the way, or worrying about buying enough drop-sheets to cover everything properly. Be practical in your approach, and have fun exploring different paint and fabric options when you decide to liven up your space!

Posted by Ayla Lefkowich