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The Staple Pieces That Matter Most When Furnishing Your Home

Many decisions are involved when furnishing your home, and costs can add up quickly.

Many homeowners feel overwhelmed at the prospect of moving into a new home and needing to hang wall art, paint, and fill rooms with furniture. It can be easy to underestimate the time and money it will take to complete the job. But rushing the process can rob you of the chance to create a home that feels pulled together and like a true version of you.

I always remind my clients that quickly filling a room is not the goal. Instead, you want to make your spaces reflect your life and personality so that you feel happy to be in your home. And if that process takes months, or even years, that is okay.

I recommend living in your new home or space for a little while to understand how you actually live. Then, approach furnishing your home with a cohesive plan. If your budget doesn't allow you to complete your whole house at once, it's best to tackle up to three closeby spaces at a time.

Once you determine which spaces to address, thoughtfully invest in a few staples you love. Think of these foundational pieces as your roadmap. They will give focus to your other design choices, determining colors and textures and communicating your personality. When you find yourself steering off course or unsure of the design direction, refer back to the colors in your staple pieces and let them guide you. And while they will be more expensive, they will serve you well and should last forever. Once those items are selected, you can choose less costly accessories while maintaining a cohesive and sophisticated look.

Well-made rugs are a worthwhile investment.

Our family was rough on floor coverings between our children and German Shorthaired Pointer. I got tired of purchasing area rugs that would immediately get dirty and worn and need replacing. I knew it was time to invest in beautiful, comfortable, and high-quality rugs that could withstand our active household.

Natural fiber rugs are ideal because they look timeless and feel good under your feet. Wool rugs are also better for the environment and healthier for family members with allergies.

You might get sticker shock at first if you aren't used to shopping for higher-end floor coverings. You'll discover that a well-made 9' x 12' rug typically ranges from $3,000 to $5,000+, and a 3' x 5' rug ranges from $1,200 to $1,500+. Remember, unlike synthetic, mass-produced rolled carpets, these will last forever and may become heirloom pieces for your family. Also, some rug retailers will allow you to trade your rug in after a specific timeframe if you want to refresh the look of your space.

It helps to look at rugs in person because you’ll get a better sense of the quality, feel, and colors than you can from a photo online. One of my favorite local shops for area rugs is Landry & Acari Rugs and Carpeting in Framingham. They have a fantastic selection and even offer custom rugs that can be made to your specifications and ready in about four to six months.

Choosing a gorgeous rug becomes a jumping-off point for decorating the rest of the room. The rug will help you focus the colors and textures, offering a base for other furniture and décor.

Design Tip: If your budget only allows for an 8’x10’ and you need a much larger size, place a flat-weave broadloom carpet in a neutral color as your first base layer and then add the investment piece on top.

A quality piece of upholstered furniture can anchor your space and last decades.

Once you’ve selected your rugs, it’s time to think about your upholstered pieces.

For instance, the sofa in your family room is probably the most-used upholstered furniture in your home. It sits in an area meant for gathering and is where your loved ones will share holiday memories, birthday hugs, and cozy weekend mornings.

When selecting a sofa that you hope to have in your home for years, there are several things to consider:

Construction: Begin by looking at the frame and joints of the sofa, aiming for sturdy hardwood such as maple, ash, or oak. Eight-way hand-tied sofas are preferable to those with stainless wire (or serpentine) springs. These pieces are more durable, comfortable, and worth reupholstering because they have good bones.

Upholstery: Look for natural fibers like cotton, wool, or leather, as opposed to synthetic fibers like nylon or polyester. High-performance fabrics like Crypton will prevent moisture from seeping through. The cushions should ideally be down-filled and wrapped in high-density foam to offer ample support and luxurious comfort.

Style: Choose a neutral, solid color so that you can change the look of the space as often as you’d like with pillows or throw blankets. Lighter fabrics make a room feel open and airy, while darker, richer jewel tones feel cozy. Try to skip anything with a trendy silhouette and look for clean lines and a classic style. Keep patterns to accent chairs and pillows.

Remember, you don't have to splurge on all of your upholstery if that's outside the budget. For instance, you can spend less on accent chairs or ottomans since they will be used less frequently .

Vibrant artwork tells a story while setting the look of a room.

You may be surprised that artwork is the third category where I encourage my clients to focus their budget and energy, but it is truly that important. If you have a focal point wall, you want to select wall art that you love that is appropriately scaled to the space.

A meaningful piece of art evokes a memory, says something about your personality and style, prompts conversation, and brings life to your space. Beyond that, the vibrant colors in a piece of art can tie an entire room together.

Some of my favorite wall art choices include:

  • Art that you love, such as a piece purchased during travel that holds special meaning for you and your family

  • My husband and I started to collect artwork years ago from various charity functions we attended or, most recently, from our travels to Vermont. We decided we would only put meaningful artwork on our walls. The pieces have become conversation starters for stories we love to share with our guests.

  • Family heirlooms like a special photograph, painting, or quilt

  • Use items you have tucked away—like that one lonely teacup from the set that was handed down to you—and have them professionally framed.

  • Family photography, like the framed lifestyle shots on our walls of us and our dog walking on the beach on Cape Cod. Gallery walls can be a perfect way to display multiple images you love. If you don't know where to start, check out these options that will instantly create the ideal grouping of frames. Once you find an arrangement you like, fill it in with your favorite photos.

Design Tip: When choosing photography, keep the look consistent by choosing either black & white or color photographs instead of a mix.

Selecting the right art for your walls is worth the wait. It's better to have a blank wall for a few months (or even a year!) than to rush and put up a generic print you found at Home Goods.

Once you choose your foundational pieces, you can spend or conserve your budget for accessories, lighting, and case goods.

As a designer, I love a high-end statement chandelier or a beautifully made table with a story behind how and why it was made. However, I also know that there are plenty of lower-cost options that still look great. Case goods (accent tables and chests), lamps, dining chairs, and accessories are a smart place to save budget. In my home, some of my favorite accessories came from the local flea market. I love finding unique decorations and old, vintage pieces. It makes me feel good knowing I am helping the environment by buying a used item while supporting a local shop. These pieces are little treasures that make me smile every time I look at them.

Here are some items that can bring personality and color into your home and are easily purchased through Amazon.

Estelle Garden Pots - Bring outdoor planters inside!

This post contains affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases.

Remember, your space is where you and your family will spend your time and make your memories. Investing in furnishings that will last a lifetime is worth it. If you need help choosing how to create timeless, beautiful spaces in your home, J. Salmon Design can help.


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