This post was written by Virginia Azevedo, Interior Designer and host of the AIWC’s monthly Interiors & Coffee group. Learn more about Virginia Azevedo Interior Design Consulting & Workshops here.  

As expats we are used to moving. From country, city or just to another place in the same location. And although new beginnings are exciting it is still a hassle!

We have to plan for movers, pack everything, clean the new and old apartment and maybe even plan for new furniture for the new place because the previous one doesn’t fit or it’s simply its time to go!

But moving is also a great opportunity!

– It’s a chance to get rid of clutter

– It’s a chance to organize all your paperwork and finally find those “misplaced” documents or precious objects you thought were lost forever

– And especially it’s a chance to plan the interior design of your dreams!

Planning your new home interiors includes both the functional and the aesthetical aspects of it. Both are equally important.


Photo by Myriam Ramel, courtesy of Virginia Azevedo

Here are 10 Golden Rules on how to achieve an efficient and harmonious interior without having to hire a professional for a large project:

1. Select carefully the old furniture: select all the furniture, lighting and objects you would like to take with you. Make sure they work well together and don’t give too much thought at this point to where they could go. Verify their condition and measure all of them.

2. Measure your new place in detail. You should know all the measures of the walls (width and height) and also what fixed units are in each one (radiators, cabinets, pipes, plugs, etc…)

3. Get inspired! Take a step back and try to imagine what your ideal home would look like. You can draw inspiration from a nice hotel where you may have been, friends homes, a interior magazine, etc… can also be a great tool when looking for inspiration. Put together a couple of key images that make you happy and are compatible with the style of the pieces of furniture you absolutely need to keep.

4. Define colors, materials and overall mood. Decide what the color pallet, materials & textures and mood of your new home will be. Make a list.

5. Plan the space layout: plan your new home furniture arrangement on paper or computer. You can easily make a paper floor plan and draw the furniture or even place little pieces of furniture cardboard on the floor plan and play with the multiple combinations ( Or you can use a simple free program like (

6. Think of everything in advance: your new plan should accommodate first all the pieces that you are bringing from the old house and should be complemented with any missing furniture, lighting and decoration. Don’t forget the rugs, side tables, curtains, and placement of suspensions and specially allow for an efficient space flow.


Photo by Myriam Ramel, courtesy of Virginia Azevedo

7. Be strong…and edit! If some of your old pieces don’t seem to fit either the new style of the space then don’t force them in. They will probably compromise the harmony of your home. Store them for a while until you feel the space properly and then you can make a decision on keeping it or sell it, for example.

8. Make elevations: drawing some elevations could be very useful to plan key walls and compositions that you may wish to create. (

9. Put all the pieces of the puzzle together! Now you know what you would like to achieve, how your current pieces fit in your new vision and what other items you will have to create or get to complete your design. Make sure you plan your new pieces using as reference your inspirational images (point 3) and also the right colors and materials (point 4). Do the same for your decoration pieces.

10. Enroll in an interior design workshop! If all these steps feel overwhelming and/or you would like to learn more about these techniques then a short interior design course could be the thing for you. There are a few English-speaking workshops that cover the full methodology and give you a good insight on the professional’s secrets of the trade!

If you follow these steps you will surely create an interior that is as close as possible to your initial dream. Just make sure you stay consistent and faithful to your vision beginning to end.

Good luck and happy move!!

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland.  If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at