Recently, someone I know bought a home that they needed to furnish from scratch. As someone who loves furniture and artwork shopping, I could only imagine how exciting/expensive that would be. It got me thinking about how I’ve furnished my own homes, and what I would do differently. Many of my design friends and I have talked about this concept, and the thought of “I wish I could through out all this old furniture and start over” instead of trying to make things work with something you hate just because it’s not in the budget right now. But how does it get that way? At some point, every single thing in a house was either selected and purchased or given to you, so a conscious decision was made.
Almost everything in all my apartments and first house were either passed to me (thanks for the dresser, Grandma Margie!) or carefully curated at Le Boys Ranch Boutique and Affiliates, aka thrift stores. There is nothing wrong with thrifting, especially as a young, broke college student swimming in design ideas. A girl’s gotta have furniture! As time goes by, however, the desire to invest in something that doesn’t need to be painted, covered, altered, or re-thrown out in a year grows. Case in point: this couch.
I will say, there is nothing wrong with this couch. I had just bought a house and gotten my first legit job, one where I was actually using my degree. Bring on the big-girl pants. I thought: “Self, you know what would be a great idea? Now that you’re a real designer, you should buy a couch. And not just any couch, you should by one from an adult store, preferably one of the most expensive in town, because, you’re a designer now. It should show.” (Let the record stand, this is not a rationale anyone should use, ever. Ahhh, youth.) So I took my bright and shiny 27-year-old self to Scheel’s Home and Hardware and fell in love with the lines of this couch. So sleek! No rolled puffy arms! No stains! Looks like it was made in this century! I didn’t like the color but I knew I able to pick a different fabric and order it in, because, you know, I am an adult now and that’s what adults do. So I got suckered in to the siren song of this couch and bought it, on the spot.
Problem #1 it was the last one, clearanced, and I couldn’t pick a new fabric. I convinced myself I would learn to love it (I never have). Problem #2 I bought it without measuring, and I had to take it and the doorway apart of my new (old) house just to fit it in, and then realized my adorable little 100 year old house was not meant for a full-sized-in-2012 couch. “Well, I’ll just work around it” and I bought accessories to match the couch, the couch I didn’t really like the color to begin with (and quite frankly, whatever pillow or accessory was on sale at the time, I wasn’t actually pulling in the kind of money I thought I would in the beginning, because…duh). Well SHOCKER I’m replacing all those pieces again because I don’t like them and I want to have a house I love and am proud of, wasting time and money in the process. And so is the cycle for thousands of young, wannabe designers with hopes in the eyes and nothing but air and gum wrappers in their wallets.
SO. Back to where we started with this post. If I was starting from scratch, where would I start? What would I replace? Here are the top 4 things I would start over with in our house, or if this house got robbed by furniture-loving elves.
#1 A. couch. you. love. and most importantly ONE. THAT. FITS. THE SPACE. I say this with emphasis and capitals because a couch can really set the tone for a whole space, especially if it is open concept. You can find the most perfect couch with gorgeous upholstery, but if it’s too big or too small, it won’t matter and throw the whole space off. It goes the same the other way, you could find the perfect sized couch, but if it’s ugly, it doesn’t matter if it fits in the room or not. A couch first. One that you like, not just that fits the space and is cheap or that you’ll deal with or that everyone else thinks is great.
#2 A bed that you think is comfortable, WITH a frame. It goes without saying to get a bed you won’t be sore in the morning with. I think getting a bed frame (even if it’s a metal frame with no headboard) helps elevate it from that time when you tried to convince yourself having a mattress on the floor was chic, not cheap (cough, no one was fooled, cough). From there you can get a headboard if you want to later. This bed is off the floor, and even still, it’s pretty sad
#3 A table and chairs that look nice, all the chairs can actually fit under the table top, and more than 2 people can sit at the table. I know I don’t need a marble top with gilt-gold legs. When I say one that looks nice, I mean one that I don’t have to cover because I’m embarrassed with how it looks. Also, these damn chairs. I ordered them online and they came in the wrong color, which I hated immediately out of the box. But we needed chairs so I just said screw it. These chairs are poorly made, they wobble, the fabric is not the right color, and most importantly, they don’t fit between the legs of the damn table so I can only have two. Two chairs at the table. Fine for Schenny and I, but god-forbid anyone wants to visit. We make it work, but still. If I had a decent table and chairs I wouldn’t get annoyed every time I look at the table (multiple times per day) until we replace them.
#4 This one chair I hate. Let me take you on a little time-trip. Christmas 2015, we had been in our new house for about 6 months. We moved from a 700 sq foot house to a 2400 sq foot house, and our new house was emmmmmpty. I was starting to realize the value of buying things I loved so I wouldn’t have to replace it down the road. Even though I’ve been a pinterest junkie for years, I still hadn’t really nailed down my style yet. Was I modern? Glam? Elegent? Did I love curved lines and detail? Contrast? Suddenly, I stumbled on to a home design blog that I LOVED the look. Everything in her house was so gorgeous; finally, a space I could emulate! I now had something to spring off of! Since this ‘look’ was bouncing around in my head, I
unfortunately miraculously came across this chair that would fit perfectly: feminine lines, a little detail, high contrast, loved the black and white, and the texture of the fabric! It looked like embossed leather. and Cheap!! Like $40 cheap. It was so perfect, I saw it in a window in downtown Fargo on my way to the cities so I bought it on the spot (are you sensing a pattern here?) Well well well, it turns out that embossed leather? Painted fabric. Yes, painted. Someone took craft paint to a fabric and painted it. When you sit on it, it crunches. I got it home and realized that my style was definitely NOT feminine and detail oriented, it was modern, with a hint of glam. Too late for that damn chair though. I haven’t replaced it since the chair I want is heart-stoppingly expensive, but every day I give that chair the side-eye and it has become a running joke in our house. I learned you have to buy things YOU love, and even if you love a chair in your friends house, it might just be that it looks great in their house but wouldn’t really go in your house. I feel these lessons are things that normal people learn much earlier, but I guess I’m a late bloomer and am a slow leaner.
If I could throw out those 4 things and start over, what would I pick (obviously money is no object when we’re dreaming, right?)
So none of the above will solve a rotating stock of meh art, throw pillows that were on clearance in patterns that do not go together, or 9 different paint color tries in one room to get it right. But it’s a start:)