6 Helpful Tips in Furnishing a (New) Home or Space
We've spent the past couple of weeks trying to buy some decor items for our home. Not a lot of huge items, but those little things that often just make a difference. Like throw pillows, picture frames, mirrors, a wall clock and indoor / garden plants.
There's still a lot to be done but I'm glad we picked up momentum again. Because after the initial house move and set of furniture we slowed down on decor, which is understandable and even advisable. Although with that, you run the risk of just leaving some spaces undone or incomplete, it actually helps you take a step back to realise what's missing and what you absolutely need.
Interestingly, I recently came across the note book where I had written furnishing ideas and timelines. A lot of the ideas remain the same thankfully, but the time line was hilarious. I had included a completion date of July 31 meaning that by then we should have finished it all. It obviously hasn't quite worked that way. I've realised with furnishing because sometimes you don't get find the right piece (and also probably don't have the spare funds at all once).
Like with most people, I've had fair bits of furnishing experiences. For most of high school and the first three years of Uni, there wasn't much to be done as students basically had just a little corner. In my 4th year of Uni however, my three friends and I pretty much got a two bedroom apartment and had to furnish from scratch. It wasn't fabulous, but it was exciting.
Being married, this is the second house we're furnishing from scratch as the first was rented totally unfurnished. On this second experience particularly I've learned a few lessons and thought to share some tips.
1. Start Early
This is important. It helps you plan way ahead - in terms of budget, ideas, colours and measurements! If you have the space measurements ahead of time it can take a lot of hassle away - as that perfect couch or bed you thought you wanted may just not fit in. Having a budget and proposed colour palette or scheme also helps streamline your search and take advantage of sale items, where possible. Months before we moved in, we had started planning. Well I say we, but it was mostly Tee, as I'm not great at understanding floor plans and envisioning spaces in my head. To his slight annoyance, I'd keep asking basic questions over and over re the description and floor plans. That said, you may want to actually move into the house before you make many big ticket purchases.
2. Browse Inspiration (& save the ideas)
You most likely will have an idea of what you like, but it's often good to seek inspiration generally. So from online magazines, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram there's a ton of inspiration - many of them with links of where to purchase the furniture.
Of course you could also go in store physically and there are a number of apps that help. IKEA has interestingly just recently released their new app which allows you insert a piece of furniture into your actual (virtual) space to see how it works out! For us, we also visited a number of show homes for inspiration; and while watching TV, we'd often pause the channel to take a photo if we came across something we liked!
While browsing through, don't forget to save your ideas. For websites, you can create a wish list and add the items, for magazines rip out the pages and file away. And ofcourse for online sources you could just have a photo album on your phone.
3. Shop Around (+ consider return policies)
I consider myself a pretty loyal person. Unfortunately that extends to shopping loyalty. Once I like a store, I end up going there all the time. Doesn't help with home furnishing as it'd be incredibly tough to find everything you want in one store.
So don't be limited. Shop around for items, prices, discounts. From physical stories to online stores. I'm often wary of online shopping, but provided the store has a clear & favourable return policy, it should be fine; because with home furnishings, you're likely to do a number of returns when things don't just fit.
While shopping, also remember that expensive is not equal to best. So don't fall into that trap. I've seen a few houses with really expensive items that just didn't work. Also, don't be afraid to look into charity shops. Sometimes those places could house some gems, especially if you're low on budget or just need some basic pieces to get started. I recall our first house here - while I was still dabbling trying to find a great couch within budget, my husband went out one morning and returned with a couch from a charity shop saying "while you make up your mind, we do need a place to sit!" The good thing is you can always donate it back to charity!
4. Re-use (Old) Items in Different Spaces / Ways
I often get bored of items really fast and so prone to giving away or discarding relatively good items. At the point of moving into a new space, there's the temptation of throwing old stuff away with the hope of purchasing brand new items. That's not advisable.
Rather, the preferred option is to take everything still in good condition. It may just fit perfectly into another space. I've moved couches previously in the living room to a bedroom & re hung photos in different areas. It does give it a new vibe. I've also seen a lot of people use items in different spaces. A bedroom chest of drawer could become a changing table for babies. In buying pieces therefore, if you can think of 3 ways or 3 places such furniture may be used or re-purposed then it's often worth the shot! This might involve a little bit of DIY-ing, so don't forget your creative hat.
5. Tackle a Room at a Time
This helps a ton! I used to be slightly perplexed when we walk into a home store and customer service asks "what room / part of the house are you working on now?". "None. Just looking around" was often my response. But in furnishing empty spaces or a new house it helps to break it down and generally deal with a room at time.
6. Get Help (+ a second opinion)
This might seem obvious, but very relevant particularly if you live alone. I was reading the reviews on an item recently and the gentleman noted that it would have been so much easier to assemble if he just had another person to help. So from the basics such as hanging photo frames to more difficult tasks like setting up furniture, it's helpful to have an extra pair of hands. And even if you're an expert, having someone else nod in approval is definitely worth it.
Basically your home or space should be a place where you love to spend time, are comfortable, and should be a reflection of your personality. I also think it should be practical and quite functional in terms of storage and design. Don't feel the need to rush or get it done all at once. My search for the perfect mattress and bed meant that we had to sleep on the floor for a couple of months - thank goodness it was in the summer months! So I think it's worth putting in a lot of time and effort in getting it right - whether it's your own house, a rented place, a shared accommodation or just a dorm room!
What are your thoughts? Have you always been decor inclined - knowing you wanted that particular room colour as a kid or are you gradually realising your style thanks to Pinterest?
Please share your furnishing stories and extra tips.