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SIDESTEPPING FURNITURE BUYING PARALYSIS

From talking with countless friends and acquaintances I’ve learned of what I’ve come to call, “furniture buying paralysis.” The new year seems a good time to talk about this, especially as many, myself included, feel a post-holiday reluctance to add any material possessions to our homes (or to make any optional withdrawals from our bank account).

Furniture buying paralysis takes many forms, but in general it’s something like this: you’re afraid to commit and buy a piece of furniture because you’re worried it won’t be perfect or that your life or home will change. You might, for instance, be thinking about buying a bookshelf or a dresser, but get stopped in your tracks because you’ve planned (for years!) to repaint that room or you’re considering moving.

It certainly makes sense to hold off on larger furniture purchases (a couch, say) or custom built pieces or reupholstery projects. For these, you really do want a perfect fit, a clear sense of the context + the surroundings, and some confidence that those won’t be changing too soon.     

But for many, smaller purchases I’d suggest that you seek out lightweight and versatile pieces and take the plunge sooner, rather than later. It is, after all, your home and you ought to enjoy it now. Find pieces you truly love and that won’t break the bank.

Here’s some advice to minimize buyer’s remorse and maximize enjoyment:

  • Find pieces that will work well in more than one room or for more than one purpose. Some stools also work well as end tables and some pieces will look great in a bathroom, entry, or kitchen.
  • In general, lighter weight pieces are more able to be deployed in various locations.
  • Make sure that you like the piece, not just on first glance but on a second or third look (good advice for other areas of life, too!). We often put things to this test, whether we’re shopping in person or online.
  • Feel empowered to mix materials. If your living room is mostly natural wood, a metal table or an acrylic chair might look terrific. Think contrast and counterpoint.

But most importantly, find and buy things that you adore and that you want to see and use everyday.

And now some of our favorites. These are not so much recommendations for a particular product as endorsements of types or categories of pieces that are versatile and make for wise investments.

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PLANTERS (+ plants)

There’s really no better design return on investment than a plant with an elegant planter. This lovely cement planter + wood stand is available at Sitte.

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SMALL RUGS

Smallish rugs are highly versatile and if your space has a pretty neutral color palette then you can have fun combining colors and patterns. This little beauty is from Kaya Kilims.

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MUUTO WALL DOTS

Muuto Dots are a classic of contemporary Scandinavian design. They come in many colors and you can put them just about anywhere you want to hang something up. Available at Design Within Reach.

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STYLISH STORAGE

Adding a bit more stylist storage is almost always a good idea. We like how these baskets look and could imagine them in lots of places. Available at Sitte.

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STOOL + OCCASIONAL TABLE + MAGAZINE RACK

We love that the Mag Table can be a stool, an occasional table, and a magazine rack. You can even stand it up vertically and use it as a computer stand. Available at Design Within Reach.

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STILL CONTEMPORARY

Designed in 1969 by Anna Castelli the Componibili storage system from Kartell still feels frankly futuristic. The elements come in a wide range of colors and sizes and look great. Available at Hive Modern.

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TEXTILES

Textiles used as wall hangings, throws or on the floor can be a great way to add some color and striking modern patterns to your home. This frazada – a traditional Andean textile used as blankets, throws, pillow coverings and more –  is available on Etsy.

Happy outfitting!