Ask A Woman: “Our house, is a very, very, very fine house…”
If you’ve got a question that needs the female treatment, chances are you’re not the only one who wants to ask it. Beth is our source for the answers. From opinions on men’s style to decoding the sometimes mysterious ways of women, she’ll take on a different question every Thursday. She also might provide an answer without waiting to be asked. That happens from time to time too. Click here to get to know Beth, then get in touch with her by sending your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org .
I just bought a small duplex in Denver. I need to furnish all of the rooms, but don’t know where to start. Any ideas on rooms I should focus on, sites to gain inspiration from, sites to get home furnishings deals?
First, let me direct you to this post by Joe that gives great suggestions on where to find affordable, stylish furnishings. Check out the comments too, which give tips from readers on how to best use sites like Craigslist to find deals. I would add the dreaded IKEA to the list (I bought a brown leather couch there that shows no signs of quitting, 9 years later) if you can make your way through the warehouse without having a massive panic attack. Also, garage and estate sales–great places for vintage, antiques, and unexpected treasures. For decor, like prints, vases, centerpieces, table lamps–go to Etsy. Etsy has one-of-a-kind items, typically at very reasonable prices.
So now you know where to buy, let’s talk about finding inspiration and learning how to put together a room. I find Houzz to be an invaluable resource. It’s a site where interior designers, furnishing companies, and regular people post pictures of home decor (you can also buy home products on Houzz but I use it only for inspiration).
It’s easy to search–you can designate what type of style you’re interested in seeing (eclectic, modern, rustic, etc.), and for which room of the house. You can save your favorite pictures to your “Ideabook” and view later for inspiration. When you sign up, begin by just casually browsing. Save the images you like in your account. Then go back after a couple sessions of perusing and figure out what your saved pictures have in common. Do you tend to gravitate towards neutral colors like brown, cream, and tan? Do you seem to prefer rooms without much clutter? Do you like bronze and gold hardware as opposed to silver? Use this information to guide your buying. Yeah, that bright blue fabric couch may look great on the store floor, but if you know that in a finished room, you really prefer a black leather couch, then you can easily avoid buyer’s remorse. It’s much easier to begin tackling your home decorating when you’ve narrowed down your options. You could also try Pinterest for inspiration, but it’s much more of a chaotic jumble than Houzz. Still, you might find some good ideas, especially for home DIY projects.
Okay, so how should you actually go about buying these items? Start with the rooms you use the most–no point in furnishing the dining room first if you’ll only be using it for formal occasions. Also, don’t rush it. That empty office might be driving you nuts, but I guarantee, 100%, if you rush out and buy furniture and wall hangings in one weekend just to fill the space, in a year, you’ll hate what you bought and you’ll replace it. This is what I did with the walls in the spare bedrooms of my house. I hated that they were blank so I went to Art.com and bought a bunch of prints that now baffle me. Seriously, it’s like a stranger bought them and put them in my house–what was I thinking? It’s much better to keep your eyes open, to check out Craigslist every week, to visit furniture outlets on a regular basis, and wait until something sings to you. You’re also more likely to get quality pieces this way, because buying slowly allows you to spend more money on each item, instead of trying to finance a whole room on a single paycheck.
Also, think about your home being a place that represents you and describes you, much the same way we often talk here on Dappered about how what you wear is an extension of yourself. When you’re on a memorable vacation, buy a print to hang in the kitchen. If as an adult you now live somewhere different than where you grew up, get a coffee table book that features vistas or diners or hiking trails or architecture from your home state. Make your home a reflection of where you’ve been and who you are.
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