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Homeowners Reveal: ‘The Best Purchase I Made for My New House’

Moving to a different house gives you license to finally ditch those worn-out chairs and frayed rugs and pick up something new. So what should you get? While everyone has their own particular styles and needs, certain items show up time and again as homeowners’ favorite purchases—and speak to winning strategies for decorating a new home that we can all learn from. Here, suggests some items to set your sights on.

An area rug

Sometimes, all it takes is a single piece to make a room. In one homeowner’s case, it was an area rug. Her husband wanted one under their dining table, but she didn’t agree. “He pushed and pushed for it, but I didn’t think we should cover up the beautiful hardwood floors,” says the Babylon, N.Y., homeowner. “But, he was right—it really does look nice. Even though it’s a print of mostly neutral colors, it pulls the room together by warming it up and feels homier than just a bare floor.”

Lesson learned: “An area rug acts as a frame for all of the furniture,” explains Leanne Zumbrunnen, a Showhomes franchisee in Kansas City. Rugs also can separate a room into sections and put everything in its place, she adds.

The perfect wallpaper

Bathroom decor can be extremely tough to master. Should you go dark and mysterious or bold and bright? One homeowner in Scarsdale, N.Y., knew the solution to her tiny upstairs loo would be pretty wallpaper. “I was extremely happy when I purchased a blue and aqua toile for this space,” she recalls. “It gives the bathroom a lot of character.”

Lesson learned: Wallpaper is more impactful than paint if used sparingly, either in a small space like a powder room or on a single wall, says Zumbrunnen. “I typically use it on one side of a dining room where you might place a buffet,” she says.

Floor-to-ceiling linen curtains

When a Los Angeles homeowner needed curtains for her windows, she was thrilled by the Aina curtains at Ikea. “They’re linen, 100 percent washable and super long so you can customize the length,” she says, adding that the store’s hemming tape is also a dream for DIYers. Another bonus is these curtains filter light, but are opaque enough to offer privacy at night—plus they look more expensive than they are ($60 a pair).

Lesson learned: Less expensive curtains are actually trending right now, says Zumbrunnen. “Elaborate window drapes are out of style because they tend to make a room seem aged and the windows look heavy.”

A Keurig coffee maker

“I love my little Keurig coffee maker, says a Coconut Creek, Fla., homeowner, who bought the device soon after moving in. “This inexpensive machine makes a single cup so fast, I can be out the door within one minute of pressing start,” she says. “Plus, it’s saved me lots of money I would’ve otherwise spent at Starbucks and I’m not wasting time waiting in long coffee lines.”

Lesson learned: Drinking coffee at home is a no-brainer when it comes to saving some cash. And a small investment in a couple of quality pans and a sharp knife will make cooking at home easier and faster, too, which means less money spent on takeout.

The right dining table

One New York City homeowner is simply bin love with her dining table. “It’s just outside our kitchen and has a rustic feel and two leaves for extending it,” she says. But it isn’t the look of the piece that makes her happy, it’s the way it helps her family bond. “It’s the heartbeat of the house—we eat at it, the kids do homework there, it doubles as an art table for their projects and it’s also the buffet for our annual Christmas party.”

Lesson learned: Go beyond single-use furniture to come up with multiple ways to use your pieces. For example, a drop-leaf table can double as a sideboard and an ottoman can be a footstool or a coffee table with the addition of a large tray. Bonus points if the ottoman also has hidden storage.

Glass shelves

A Rhode Island woman needed a place to store makeup, perfume and hair accessories when she relocated. The fix? She had glass shelves installed on one wall of her new bathroom. “Finally, there was a place for all of my extra stuff—and it looks classy,” she says.

Lesson learned: Storage can be functional and attractive. When shopping for bathroom or pantry baskets or for crafts and toy bins, consider their look and materials. This way, colorful storage with patterns or texture can work to enhance your design.