5 Home Furnishing Mistakes to Avoid in Your New Family Home

Couple picking out new furnishings for home - GettyImages/HeroImages

Before you jump headfirst into outfitting your new home, check out our tips to guarantee that your décor is a perfect fit!

We get it. Moving into a new home is exciting and you’re eager to get everything set up just right. So, you get the family unpacked, start making lists of what furnishings you still need, and head out to do some shopping. Before you do that, though, take a moment to review these five common home furnishing mistakes to ensure you don’t fall into the same traps.

Mistake #1: Going on a Shopping Spree

Families are under a lot of pressure to get the home in shape right away. The kids need their things to feel comfortable. Parents need to get as much done as early as possible so they can get back to work, and if the move occurs during the school year, there’s even greater urgency to get everything organized. The natural reaction to this pressure is to go out and buy everything you still need all at once, but that strategy can backfire.

A better approach is to ease into it. Take some time to think and plan out your rooms. Make a list of what you need, then focus on the most important rooms first. Spend time browsing furniture online and in person and take the time you need to find pieces you love as opposed to making do with whatever you find when you first move in. It’s okay to take your time; many interior designers recommend taking a year or more to decorate a new home to give yourself time to discover how you use the space and how the home’s features, like windows and lighting, will play into the décor.

Mistake #2: Decorating Around a Single Piece

There’s a strong tendency to decorate around a single piece of furniture, be it a family heirloom or a large item that dominates the room. Doing this well can be difficult. In most cases you’ll be limiting your options, forcing yourself into a certain color scheme or layout that just doesn’t work in the new space. If you really love the piece, but it’s messing up your plans for the new space, consider moving it to a different room and using it in a different context. If you don’t particularly care for the piece, it’s probably best to just get rid of it and allow your fresh new home to give your décor a fresh new start.

Mistake #3: Not Measuring

A major mistake many homeowners make in furnishing a new home is eyeballing it instead of measuring. Just because a piece of furniture fit in your old house, doesn’t mean it will fit in your new home — both literally and figuratively. Yes, a piece may technically fit in the space available but will it look right? Will it look too large or small in the room? Will it overshadow the other pieces or get lost under the high ceilings? Measure the space, research furniture dimensions online and sketch out a plan. The idea is to make sure there is balance in the room — between the furniture itself and between the furniture and the space and to ensure you have enough space in the room to include all of the furniture you want or need. A too large sofa in a too small room will limit other seating and furnishings.

Bonus Measuring Tip: Always measure doorways and hallways before purchasing large items! There is nothing worse than spending time shopping, finding a piece you love and bringing it home only to discover that it won’t fit through a doorway.

Mistake #4: Overcrowding

Believe it or not, not every inch of space has to be covered. This is a tough one for growing families, but try not to cram the room full. Leave space for walking and movement. Think about what is essential to the room and start with that. Then gradually add pieces or décor items over time until the room feels right. Some people like a cozier, more closed in feel, while others prefer a sleeker, more open design. While it is largely a matter of preference as to exactly how much “stuff” should go in the room, you don’t want it to look or feel crowded or restrict movement. There isn’t a rush, as Kay Wade, vice president and head designer of Los Angeles-based interior design firm Closet Factory, explains, “Depending on the space and your budget, you can start simply and the space can grow over time.”

Mistake #5: Designer Fever
Home and furniture catalogs are full of gorgeous rooms that look great in print, but not so much in your home. It can be really tempting to buy an entire room layout, especially if you’re crunched for time or busy meeting your family’s needs, but think about how the pieces will actually look in your home and fit into your family’s lifestyle. Most families prefer a mix of furnishings to accommodate different needs and interests and to make the home a true reflection of their family and individual design style. Catalog-ready room designs are usually not practical for growing families.

Our best advice can be summed up with these thoughts from Rob Levy, principal broker with Keller Williams Realty Professionals in Portland, Oregon: “Slow down and do your research. Think about where your life is. Think also about livability.”

Sarah Kinbar is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.

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