Furnishing Your New Home: What to Get and What to Avoid

Your home furnishings do more than serve their individual functions: they set the tone of your home, keep you and your family comfortable, and represent you as a homeowner to guests (and potential buyers should you plan to resell in the future). You may be moving in with a truckload of furniture or not much more than the clothes on your back, but whatever the case, here are some guidelines for using interior décor to make your home your own.

Building Your Collection

If you are furnishing your home mostly or partially with pieces you already own, visual unity and proportion are your top priorities.

Match More, Mix Less

Evaluate the furniture that you’re bringing into your new home. Do you have a variety of styles, color palettes, and finishes? Some mixing can add an eclectic, quirky touch. However, too much variety can make your home look scattered, cluttered, or artless.

If you have a wide assortment of styles, divide the furniture. If you have a small bookshelf or short table with the same finish as your night stands, repurpose it. Put the bookshelf or table at the foot of your bed for extra storage. Keep the armchair, loveseat, and couch with matching upholstery in the formal living room, but move the clashing entertainment center into the office or entertainment room.

You can fill in any gaps with new pieces that match the furnishings that are already there, or by refinishing your favorite pieces to better complement the rest of your furniture. For example, staining an office desk with a darker finish to make it match the bookcase and chair can make your home office into a professional, fully-realized workspace.

Size and Resize

Be aware of sizing when you are purchasing new furnishings. Don’t try to force your furniture to fit into the space. Your extra-long couch may have fit along the wall in your last house, but if it juts out into the walkway in your living room it will look sloppy and may even pose a safety hazard.

Properly sized furniture will be more practical and visually appealing than pieces that are too large or too small. A loveseat may have served as your only couch in your previous apartment, but it won’t fill enough of a full-size living room. Furnishings that are too small may make your home look sparse and bare, while oversized items create a cramped feeling, either of which will make your home less comfortable.

Furnishing from Scratch

If you are starting with a blank slate in your new home, keep function and completeness at the forefront of your mind.

First Things First

Create a list of furnishings you will need. You will probably remember that you need a mattress and bed frame, but without a list, you may come home without a floor lamp for the living room or bed sheets for each kid. Hannah Shanks, editor of Our Property, recommends putting these essential, but easily forgotten, items at the top of your shopping list:

  • kitchen and bathroom trash cans
  • a toilet plunger
  • dinnerware and cutlery
  • cleaning supplies, including a vacuum cleaner and mop
  • hardware for hanging your blinds or curtains
  • shower curtains for each bathroom

Check out Shanks’ comprehensive list to check off the essential furnishings for each room of your home.

Consider the Space as a Whole

Before you fall in love with a vintage settee or an oversized framed mirror, consider whether or not the piece will enhance or detract from the established aesthetic of your home. If your home is a country-style classic, a wrought iron headboard will look gaudy and out of place, while a headboard made of distressed wood paneling will complement the style of your home.

Determine exactly where each new piece will go and take measurements to be sure that it will fit in the intended space. Take your home’s interior measurements with you as a reference when you’re shopping.

Tour some furniture galleries. Galleries set up mock rooms to help you imagine the furniture in your own living space. Test out couches and chairs, consider whether or not the dining room table you’ve been eying will match the flooring, and ask about warranties.

No matter what you bring with you on moving day, relocating to a new home is an opportunity to create a beautiful, comfy space for your entire family. Follow these tips to ensure that your chosen furnishings complete your new home.

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