Demystifying home decor: the top 7 styles for first home buyers

July 7, 2021

When it comes to purchasing your first home, it can often be overwhelming with so many decisions in such a short time. From where to buy, the type of home you want, which bank you will get your mortgage through, all the way down to the new furniture, carpets, and decorations you want to use in your new home. 

For first home buyers, it can be a lot. 

However, contrary to popular belief, purchasing your first home and styling your home can be fun. It is a considerable achievement and is something to be celebrated. 

Choosing your home decor and how you want your new home to look should mean outings searching for the perfect furniture to fill your new home. It should mean coffee dates while deciding over the ideal rugs, art pieces, ceramics, bath mats, and lamps. Whatever it is, it can be a lot easier if you have a central theme and colour scheme.

Many home decor styles can inspire you, but here are seven used by some recent Contrax buyers that might help you narrow down your frame of reference, especially if you are a first-home buyer.  

1. Modern home decor

When it comes to home decor, modern decor is widely popular all around the globe for its crisp and simple design

Modern home decor found its origins around the turn of the 20th century with the rise in machines and technology and has roots in German and Scandinavian designs. While some might think it feels a little rigid, it embodies many exciting characteristics that make it very appealing to the eye.  

Modern home decor often refers to a home with clean, crisp lines and a simple colour palette. In many homes, metal, glass and steel are popular, employing the crisp simplicity in every element of the home. 

Items in modern homes prioritise functionality over decorativeness. There is very rarely the presence of cluttered spaces and fussy adornments. Instead, modern home decor opts for items with a clear intended purpose and eliminate anything that lacks this practicality. 

The most common elements of modern home decor are: 

  • Natural materials 
  • Earthy, neutral, monochromatic colours
  • Reflective surfaces such as steel metal or glass
  • Natural light and unadorned windows
  • Structural elements (such as concrete or beams) often left exposed
  • No unnecessary detailing 
Willoughby House / Builder: Keedah / Architect: Kyal Sheehan / Photograph: Dan Gosse

2. Contemporary home decor

Just like modern home decor, contemporary home decor has similar elements often used interchangeably. However, the two are distinct and should not be confused with one another when choosing to style your first home. 

While modern home decor reflects a particular era, the 20th century, contemporary styling reflects a more fluid balance of modern and other popular styles with homeowners at this moment. Contemporary decor moves with the times and reflects what is stylish when the home buyer is looking.

Currently, the use of lines in contemporary home decor is common. Whether vertical, horizontal or curved, strong visible lines are evident in many contemporary-style homes, often found within the details of the space. 

For example, we often find this theme expressed in bold colour blocks, high ceilings, bare windows, and geometric shapes. 

However, with contemporary home decor, a ‘less is more’ mindset is better than filling rooms with clutter. Each item or decoration needs to stand out on its own to fill the white spaces.  

The most common elements of contemporary home decor are:

  • Neutrals, black, and white are the primary colours in contemporary style interiors
  • The use of lines
  • Bold statements in every element of the room, but no clutter
  • Textured fabrics, plants and fabrics
Castle Cove House / Architect: Forever Home Designs / Photographer: Thomas Dalhoff

3. Minimalist home decor

When you think minimalism, you might be thinking of the wave of people taking hipster living to a new level as they depart modern life and rid themselves of all material belongings. Living a minimalist life can involve ridding oneself of clutter and choosing to live with the bare minimum.

The minimalist concept in home decor embodies this mindset and has increased in popularity in Australia in recent years. Minimalism takes many of the elements of modern home decor and distils it down even further. 

Colour palettes are often neutral in the home, furniture is simple, and there is no excess of accessories, art, or decor. Minimalist home decor celebrates the essentials of comfortable living. 

It leaves no allowance for anything extra, so it is common to find only the bare minimum of furniture within a room. Often, furniture has more than one use in the home, with things like an ottoman doubling as a storage unit. 

Minimalist decor, if done correctly, achieves an elegance that appears effortless. 

The most common elements of minimalist home decor are:

  • Less is more and a lack of clutter and decoration
  • Functionality 
  • Use of space and natural light
  • Monochromatic, limited colour palette
Chatswood House / Architect: Lucy Humphrey / Builder: Keedah Constructions

4. Traditional home decor

Traditional home decor is one of the most popular design aesthetics worldwide. It is also one of the easiest and most common designs for first-home buyers to adopt when planning out their homes.  

Calm, orderly, comfortable and classic are some of the main elements that traditional home decor embodies, with a large allowance for accessories, colours, furnishings, and textures decorated throughout the home. 

Everything matches and stays consistent with one another—furniture and accessories in pairs and everything thrown together casually.

The most common elements of traditional home decor are:

  • Dark, finished woods
  • Rich, dark colour palettes with multicolour florals on the walls or in decorations
  • Textures and curved lines but not over the top 
  • Comfortable and homey

Castle Cove House / Architect: Forever Home Designs / Photographer: Photographer: Thomas Dalhoff

5. Bohemian home decor

If a home full of colour and life is what you are interested in having, boho/ bohemian decor is perfect.

Bohemian home decor embodies the carefree, relaxed, and unusual, bringing to life a home full of colour, culture, and exciting items that will pique the interest of anyone entering your home. 

It often means no rules and is commonly chosen by people who lead unconventional lives, such as travellers, actors, and writers.

Bohemian homes usually include textiles and decorations inspired by different cultures and places, vintage furnishings, and mismatched items collected from different locations and typically use warm earthy colours mixed with pops of vibrant colours.

It is also not uncommon to see floor pillows, coloured throws on top of furniture, textured tapestries, rugs, and a multitude of personal photos and art on the walls. 

While there is a lot of freedom when it comes to traditional home decor, some common elements you might find are:

  • Warm earthy colours and jewel tones such as deep browns, greens, and grays for base colors, and decorated with purples, oranges, and blues
  • Dyed textiles and patterns
  • Rugs, tapestries, pillows
  • Second-hand, vintage, or items collected from all around the world 
  • Aged items 
  • Lanterns, candles, and floor and table lamps for lighting
Middle Cove House / Photograph: Natalie Wise

6. Rustic home decor

Rustic home decor is also widely popular worldwide and often found when looking at homes such as farmhouses, Airbnb’s and cabins. 

Rustic home decor is easy and should appear effortless, reflecting natural inspiration and elements straight from the Earth, which are easy to source and use. Often, you will find raw and unfinished pieces such as wood and stones with a relaxed number of decorations to finish off a room. 

Rustic decor is all about the feeling, and this is often why fireplaces or animal features can be central. The colour palette is usually calming and natural, with beiges, whites, browns, and greys. 

The most common elements of rustic home decor are:

  • Earthy features like natural wood and stone
  • Textures that can be seen and felt
  • Animal features
  • Natural colours 
Dover Heights house / Photograph: Patrick Moran

7. Beach/ coastal home decor

Beach home decor, also often referred to as hamptons or coastal style, is a popular design worldwide, but primarily in homes with beach views or holiday homes. 

The beach home decor style brings cozy and casual elements to reflect the easy-going and relaxed way of coastal life. It typically incorporates nautical elements reminiscent of the beach, such as lighthouse decorations, ship-wheels used as clocks, and beautiful ocean landscape art as wall features. 

In beach decor, the colour palette is simple - whites, neutrals, and pastels, with the occasional addition of more bold blues, greens, corals, and yellows. Wooden elements are also a common feature used in the furniture. 

The most common elements of beach/coastal home decor are:

  • Simple white walls and furniture with soft pastel colours for decorations
  • Nautical decorations
  • Open, airy, and light design
  • Wood
Dover Heights house / Photograph: Patrick Moran

When purchasing your first home and choosing how you want to decorate its interior, a basic understanding of home decor fundamentals and styles can be a great way to help you understand what you like and dislike. 

There might be colours or furnishings that might work well with one particular design but not others, or you might be able to grasp a deeper understanding of how different elements work or clash when put in a room together. The ability to identify different interior design styles can help you understand what elements you may want to replicate within your own home, encouraging your aesthetic to shine through. 

Putting together a portfolio of pictures that you love will help you understand what design you envision for your own home. This way, when it comes time to purchase your furniture and decorations, you can draw inspiration from the aesthetic you fancy, and the process can be made easier from the get-go - not to mention much more fun.

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