Our Thoughts on All Things Home

New house, old furniture. Can it work?

There's a common theme we encounter in both staging and interior decorating: how to use existing furniture in a new space. Usually, there's a frustrating problem with our clients' furniture: it wasn't bought for the house where it needs to live. Some design psychology: the problem is usually not the furniture. More often, it's the "move-in mindset." And it happens to everyone.

When taking furniture from an old house to a new house, the urge is to keep furniture, art and accessories in their previous groupings. By nature, we get locked into thinking about our furnishings "going together" in a certain way. Moving into a new space is an opportunity to mix things up--and, quite honestly, it's also a mandate to mix things up. Reality is that your current arrangement of furnishings likely will not continue to work in new rooms of different shape and geographic orientation.

Here are three simple steps to establishing a great look in your new place with all the same, old stuff:
1. For each room, determine it's optimal function for your family (ignore how the space was being used by the previous owners).
2. Look at each piece of your furniture, art and decorative accessory as a stand-alone item. Forget about how or where it was used in your previous space. Make no assumptions about how it should be used in your new space.
3. Clearly determined room functionality + innovative use of available furnishings=great new spaces. Combine your items to support your new ways of living in your new space.

One very important side-note: color scheme. In a previous post we talked about determining your color scheme. Starting off fresh in a new space is the perfect opportunity to assert your color scheme throughout all your rooms. Be selective about which of your art and decorative accessories you use. And never let the previous tenant's color choices determine your color scheme! Painting a room is relatively fast and inexpensive, so paint over wall colors that aren't perfect for you. Rather than "working around" existing carpets or wallpaper in the new space that don't support your color scheme, remove them. Although doing this work may mean spending some extra dollars during the move, using the previous tenant's choices of these key visual items can completely derail your decorating process and prevent your new space from feeling like the great new home you want it to be. And, remember: paint and elbow grease are much cheaper than buying new things!