Vancouver townhouse specialists, your Vancouver townhouse specialists, have some decorating tips for new homeowners.

“One of the great things about specializing in townhouses is that I meet a lot of first time home buyers,” says townhouse realtor Ariane Benjamin. “A lot of people are incredibly excited about having a space they can truly personalize for the first time. Of course, it’s daunting, too. The townhouses we sell are beautifully staged, which provides great inspiration. However, here are some tips for new homeowners looking for a few pointers.”

First, it’s important to consider architecture and the space you have available. The large, grand pieces of Victorian style probably won’t work well in a trim little townhouse. Sketch out a floor plan, visualize what space you have to work with, and take measurements. Maintaining balance is one of the most important aspects of creating a beautiful atmosphere.

Next, it’s time for a little research. A lot of people already know what they like, even if they don’t know how to articulate it. For those of us without a certification in home design, the easiest solution is to thumb through a few home décor magazines from the local Chapters. Snip and save anything that catches your eye. When you’ve got about a dozen examples, start looking for the trends. Do you see similar colours, styles, and patterns? Are the rooms you like dense and cozy or spacious and airy?

Once you understand what it is you like, it’s time to create a budget. Consider how much you’ll need to spend. Remember, the object is to recreate, not replicate, and that works in your favour. It gives you the freedom to mix up more expensive items with more affordable ones.

“Naturally, most budgets will be a little tight after purchasing a home,” says Ariane. “If that’s the case, start by focussing on a single room that will provide a lovely retreat. Use that room as your template, and slowly tackle the other spaces as time and resources permit.”

Remember, to call in the professionals when necessary. For example, paint is always one of the most affordable ways to personalize a space, but choosing the right colours can be tricky. Even white comes in a dozen shades that will subtly alter the mood and ambiance of your home. Take along your scrapbook and ask for advice! Many painting stores will provide the service free or for a nominal fee. It’s perfectly fine to pay a professional to recommend the right colour or combination of colours and then save money by applying it yourself.

“Decorating is always a balancing act,” according to Ariane and the townhouse specialists at “Splurge on some areas and skimp on others. There’s nothing wrong with mixing an expensive heirloom mirror with a lamp from Ikea. Artfully done, most people probably won’t even notice.”

One final piece of advice is to try to stick with neutral colours that will transition well when it comes to investment pieces like the couch or dining table. After all, your first townhouse probably won’t be your last. A few good pieces will provide a leg-up when you arrive at your next home.