5 Tips for Upgrading Your Furniture
Do you want to redesign your space, but don’t know where to start?
Do you have your first ‘real’ apartment, house or condo? Does it feel like you have a hodgepodge mix of items that you’ve accumulated over the years? From places like Ikea or craigslist? And you have many pieces that you’ve inherited from family and friends?
When I moved into my first place by myself all my furniture was from my old apartment. I had my sister’s old loveseat and coffee table, along with lamps and chairs from my childhood home. None of the pieces were bad on their own but altogether it was a mess — there was no cohesive style or aesthetic.
I knew it was time to upgrade, but where to start?
Here are some tips to help guide you through the process:
Define your aesthetic
If you have mismatched furniture or you like different styles, then it may be hard to know your aesthetic. Here are a few style definitions to help point you in the right direction:
Eclectic — You don’t feel like you have just one style. You generally like bold design. You also love to mix and match different textures and patterns. You like to combine different time periods, cultural elements, trends, and colors.
Traditional — You like classic design and neutral tones. You shy away from anything too trendy or chaotic. You may love antiques and classic art pieces. You also like design elements inspired by 18th and 19th cent. European design.
Rustic — You love the outdoors and natural elements inspire your style. You’re drawn to weathered wood, cold stone, and smooth leather. All design elements have the appearance of being very natural, casual, rough and aged.
Industrial — You love a cool clean urban style. This style is more masculine and mixes vintage and modern elements. Many of these design elements are warehouse and factory-inspired.
Midcentury Modern — You love design elements from the 50s and 60s. Some of the common themes of midcentury modern design are organic shapes, simple forms, and functional pieces.
French Country — You like a mix of elegance and rusticity. This style takes inspiration from country homes in Provence, France. Many design elements incorporate ruffles and distressed woodwork. Along with mixed patterns and both bright and soft hues.
Define your budget
It’s important to know how much you’re willing to spend to upgrade. Note the keyword here is upgrade — so you’re looking for pieces that are an investment and you will keep for years to come.
In the past, you looked for the most affordable pieces possible. This doesn’t guarantee great quality. This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank and shop at stores outside of your price range. The goal is to adopt the mindset that for great quality sometimes you have to spend a little more than you’re used to.
Yet, it’s important to know how much you can and want to spend so that you don’t go overboard. Once you have your budget defined, you’ll then be able to identify which retailers are in your price range.
Determine if you’re starting from scratch or designing around key pieces
Once you have your aesthetic and budget defined, you’re almost ready to start selecting new pieces! First, though you have to decide if you’re starting from scratch or keeping some pieces that you have.
If you are starting from scratch you have a blank canvas! You’re getting rid of all your current furniture and upgrading everything. Start with the main furniture piece that you can design around. It can be a large area rug, bookshelf, couch, or dining or coffee table. Starting with the main piece will help create a foundation for the rest of the space.
If you are designing around some pieces you already have, ask yourself how they work into the style of your room. Are they accent pieces or main focal points? Do they help inspire or define your aesthetic or are they more neutral? Once you know how to work around existing pieces it’ll be easier to find other pieces to complement what you already have.
Let go of the old and welcome the new
It can be hard to part with pieces of furniture that may have sentimental value. These could be pieces you’ve had for a long time, through many moves. Or items you associate with meaningful memories. It can be tough to let go.
For example, I had a lot of pieces that were from the house I grew up in. Because they had a sentimental value I wanted to keep them and incorporate them into my new design. But I recognized that the aesthetic was off and they didn’t work in my space — I needed to let go.
Once I started finding some new pieces to replace them, it was then easier to say goodbye. I could then welcome the new furniture to start a new chapter in my life.
Decide if you want affordable professional help
Some people have a strong sense of their personal style. Or know well what will work in their space with their other items.
I was not one of them. I would buy things online that I thought would look good, but then once in my home, they would look off or be the wrong size. I then would end up having to return or re-sell things that I had recently purchased.
Shopping in person wasn’t much easier. I would wander through different stores and warehouses feeling overwhelmed with the selection. It felt like a pointless effort.
If you’re struggling to select new pieces because you don’t know how to create a cohesive look. Or you’re overwhelmed with selection then professional help may be the way to go.
There are many online design services to help you style your space. They recommend furniture for you based on your style and budget. Most also create virtual renderings of your room with their design suggestions. A few to look into are Modsy, Havenly, Decorist and Décor Aid.
The service I used was Modsy. They create realistic renderings of your room. It was so helpful to virtually ‘see’ different pieces in my space before making decisions. From there I was able to buy pieces they recommended but also find similar pieces on my own. This gave me confidence that the pieces I purchased would look great! No more mistakes and returns.
Or, if you know Photoshop you can create renderings yourself.
With these tips, you should have the tools you need to get started.
Remember — determine your style and define your budget. Ask yourself if you’re doing a complete overhaul or keeping some core pieces you already have. Get in the mindset of saying goodbye to some old friends and hello to new possibilities. Finally, decide if you may need some professional help and consider design services.
You’re ready to start upgrading your space and your life. Good luck!