This post is about how to combine second hand or antique furniture with pieces that are brand spankin new. I’m really excited to talk about this and share how we made it work for us, because not everybody can afford to buy all new stuff when they move into their home. David and I lived with our families until we got married, so we had accumulated enough furniture between the 2 of us, minus a few key items (like couches). We only spent $350 out of pocket to furnish our house, thanks to generous family and friends who bought or gave us furniture we needed.
So now we had all this stuff, but none of it was a set, and none of it matched. Here are some things I learned about mixing old and new furniture:
- Know what you have and what you need. Once we bought our house and knew how much space we had to work with we began to figure out what furniture we could resuse for our current homes. David had recently got a new, full bedroom set so that was obviously what we’d use. We both had book cases and he was going to bring a recliner from his parent’s house. Some people knew we were looking for dining room furniture, so when they came across free items they asked if we wanted them. So many people are generous when it comes to helping out a young couple, but there comes a point where you have to decline because you might end up with 6 dressers!
- Determine what you can get used and what you want to buy new. There was NO WAY I was buying used couches or anything upholstered! I’m paranoid about bringing lice, ticks, bedbugs and other people’s dead skin cells into my house. David’s grandma offered to buy us couches, so we didn’t have to worry about that anymore. But generally, I think everything else but upholstered furniture, is okay to buy secondhand or get for free. Our faux leather dining chairs, dining table and front entry bench were all freebies people had found for us.
- Know your decor style and tastes. I have always known I like classic pieces that won’t go out of style. David likes real wood that has a visible grain and antiques. I saw some really funky furniture in stores that I liked, but wasn’t sure it would look good in out home, or that I’d like it long term. Similarly, I’d see things I loved (hot pink floral couch!!!!!!!!) but I knew David wouldn’t want in our home. Thankfully, we have a pretty similar decor style, so mixing what we already owned was easy. But if you and your spouse have different tastes, you can still blend items successfully.
- If you buy new, make sure it is something you love and will love longterm. Since the couches we were getting were pricey I wanted to make sure we’d be happy with them for many years, because it’s not something that can be replaced inexpensively. The one we chose is neutral, with threads of green, yellow and purple that can only be noticed if you look closely. The fabric will go with any wall colour or throw pillow choice, so I know we will get many years out if it. One of the things I bought for the house was a new, solid pine dresser. I intended to paint it bright red, but if I change my mind down the road I know it can easily be redone in an afternoon. The dresser itself is simple and the shape is timeless.
- Experiment with furniture and decor placement until you love the results. Our living room is 21 feet long by 14 feet wide with a whole wall of windows on one side. When we looked at the house for the first time, it was so crammed full of stuff that it was hard to see the space and picture our things here. Once we moved it we fiddled with couch placement, moved a book case around on every wall until it looked perfect and switched where a side table was countless times. When David brought his recliner here we had to reposition everything again to make room. Even now, over 2 years later, I’m still rearranging the living room! If you find that there is something you bought or obtained that you no longer like, try moving it to another room. If it still doesn’t work for you, give it away to someone else that could use it.
- Be aware of how much space you have. When we first moved into our house we had spent most of our savings on the down payment, which meant we would spend the next several months replenishing that savings account. But now that we have been here a while I often see items in the store that I’d love to have. Or a family member offers us something they no longer need. While I’d love to buy and accept everything I like, I know it might not fit in out space. For example, I saw this gorgeous blue occasional table that I reeeeeally wanted. But I had no idea where it would go! I hate the look of too much furniture, so I passed on buying it. Recently my dad offered us some things he was getting rid of and I accepted them knowing exactly where they would go. We needed a place to hang our coats by the back door, and he happen to have a free standing coat rack that fit perfectly. He also had a storage ottoman that acted as a stool, and I took that knowing I could use it to store board games.
Mixing old and new stuff really isn’t complicated. It’s a great way to save money when you buy/rent your first home, because new stuff can be expensive! As much fun as it is to buy and own brand new furniture, it isn’t always necessary. We were young (I was 21 and David was 24) when we bought our house, and what we had saved when towards the purchase. I wish I could have filled out home with brand new things, but I’d rather we spent that money on the down payment of the house, because that’s just even less we owe the bank now. As we get older, save more, pay off more of the house, I’m sure we will be buying new furniture to replace out old stuff. But for now, our collection of preloved and new works for us:)