First, take a look at the furniture you already have. If a piece is cheap, get rid of it. If the style is dated, let it go — unless it has sentimental value, in which case you might consider refreshing it with new upholstery or a new finish.If you’re still uncertain about whether to keep things, consider hiring an interior designer, even on just an hourly basis, to help you sift through your possessions and tell you what’s worth saving.“The decorator will see things through a different lens,” says Allison Caccoma of Caccoma Interiors.
Once you’ve vetted your collection, you have one more step to complete before you hit the stores. “Don’t purchase anything until you have the entire room worked out — the rug, furniture, window treatments and lighting,” says Caccoma. While it’s not necessary to identify the precise pieces, you should have a sense of what you want each piece to look like. In fact, you might even want to assemble a project board, with clippings of the kinds of pieces you’re looking for.“People often make the mistake of buying an item, and then are locked into decorating the room around that one item,” Caccoma says.
But how can you know what pieces you want until you get a sense of what’s available? This is the time to do a little reconnaissance. Visit your local to-the-trade design center (most allow consumers to look, though not necessarily to buy) and get a sense of current styles, what’s available and what you like. Spend some time on Houzz, pick up a bunch of design magazines and visit stores and antiques shops. “People need to broaden their horizons and just see what’s out there,” says designer Claudia Juestel of Adeeni Design Group.
Some designers advocate buying big pieces first. Whether you buy them first or last, it’s usually a good idea to keep those furnishings understated.“Keep your fabrics a little on the neutral side, and then bring the color in on your walls and your throw pillows,” advises Caccoma.Comfort is critical. Don’t be afraid to sink your money into seating.“Buy the best sofa you can afford,” advises Juestel. Try to sit or lie on the piece before you buy, and if you can afford it, upgrade your cushions from solid foam to foam wrapped in down. If you do most of your sitting in the family room rather than the living room, spend the money on those pieces, instead of on pieces that’ll never get used.
Upholstered pieces are a relatively large investment, so you’ll want things that will last through changes in your lifestyle and taste. As a rule, it’s best to go with simple, clean lines. And don’t fret too much about whether furnishings will go together, Caccoma says. Generally speaking, if you like the pieces, they’ll work together.“Pick something because you like it,” she says. “Don’t worry about why and where it’s going to go.”
READ MORE HERE: Decorating 101: How to Shop for Furniture