Before you start looking for furniture, you need to stop and define your own personal style – the one that best suits your personality and lifestyle. You’ll soon get sick of what you buy if you just go along with the latest trend or rush into getting something. Remember, this is a significant investment and you’ll have to live with any bad choices for quite some time. To establish your style, you first need to get inspired. Look for images of different rooms in a house and save the ones that you really like. A few days later, look over what you have saved, refine it and add new images until you have perfected your search. This can take some time but it’s important to get a sense of visual culture and form your own opinions to know what really gets you excited. After you’ve established your style, you have the fun task of playing around with different looks and combining them to give your space that personal touch.

1. Function: weigh up your needs

A common mistake is to furnish your home like everyone else does – putting a sofa, TV, dining table and chairs in the living room, for example. But before doing anything else, stop and think about how you use your home. If you always go out for dinner or have it in the kitchen, do you really need to fill half your living room with a dining table that you’ll only use twice a year? Think hard about the activities you do in the space you’re furnishing and how often you do each one. Based on this, prioritise certain activities over others. Your home should adapt to you, not the other way round. From the beginning, thoroughly plan out all the furniture that is going in a room and avoid adding things as you go. This way, everything will work well together and the room will be more functional.

2. Scale and proportion: take measurements

It's really important to look for furniture that is the right size and proportion for the space it’s going in. You may have fallen in love with your friend's chaise longue and want exactly the same one. But does it fit in your tiny living room? Carefully measure the space you are furnishing and sketch it out on paper. Don't worry if you can't draw – we're mainly talking about drawing rectangles here and anyone can do that with a ruler and some squared paper. An easy and intuitive way of arranging furniture in a space and checking scale is to cut out pieces of paper with the measurements of the furniture you like and placing them on the room you have drawn. As well as checking size and proportion, you will be able to play around with the location of different items until you find the best and most space-efficient spot.

3. Harmony: tones and materials

Furniture has to be in harmony with the space it is in. This means paying attention to the colour of the floor, walls and any special features on the ceiling. If you have a neutral space with soft, light colours and plain or wooden floors, you can mix and match styles and colours without any problems. But if the space has a really colourful and eye-catching tiled floor, for example, you'll have to go for lighter furniture that doesn’t clash with the flooring or draw attention away from it. In this case, light wood furniture or items raised on metal legs or structures work best.

4. Practicality: ease of cleaning and storage

This is a very important factor to consider when choosing furniture, especially if you have kids. Not all materials are suitable for children. Look for materials that are easy to clean and hard to damage. At the same time, make sure they have extra storage to help you keep things tidy when the kids are small.

5. Finances: set your budget

It goes without saying that price is important when it comes to choosing furniture. In fact, it can be one of the deciding factors. Set a maximum budget before starting your furniture search to avoid getting off track or wasting time looking at furniture you can’t afford. There are lots of reasonably priced, high-quality options out there in a range of styles, it’s just a question of knowing where to shop. Setting a price limit will often help you when you’re deciding between different things.

6. The centrepiece: treat yourself

We’ve all agreed that you need a maximum budget, but within this set aside some money for a designer item that particularly takes your fancy and can act as a centrepiece. One well-chosen and skillfully placed item will give the room a feeling of elegance and luxury.

7. Don't rush it

Try not to make rash or rushed purchases when furnishing your home. Take your time when defining your style and needs, as well as researching prices, materials and quality. If you rush, you risk buying something that doesn’t work in terms of size, style or function, so choose what you like the most and mull the decision over for a few days. Sometimes, seeing a piece of furniture again after some time away can make you realise it’s not so perfect after all, helping you to avoid a purchase you would quickly regret. If you’re still in love with the piece when you see it again, go ahead and buy it. It’s yours!

July 9, 2020, 9:56 a.m.
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