Upsizing: Five Tips for Building Your Nest

A designer gives practical and economical tips for moving on up to a bigger space.

Posted by Linda Merrill | Oct 07, 2011
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iStockAs we move through the stages of life such as moving from college dorms to first apartments, single living to partnered life or experiencing upward mobility through professional advancement, how we live usually progresses with us.  More often than not, we start with castoffs from parent’s attics or pick up “bits and bobs” left behind by other renters. At least, that’s how it was in my experience.

Long before I considered interior decorating as a profession, I was keenly interested in the way my space looked and functioned and found that I made decisions based on both elements working in harmony.  

Upsizing tip #1: Acquire only what you love

When I moved into my first post-college apartment, I had access to some pretty decent furniture that relieved me of the financial burden of buying new.  Luckily for me, I was the last child out of the house just as my parents began the “downsizing” portion of their lives, moving from a larger house to a more manageable smaller home. However, I was careful to take only that which I really liked and had use for. This is my number one recommendation: acquire only what you love and you need. This holds true for attic scavenging, dumpster dives, flea market finds or pilgrimages to Ikea.  If you don’t love it and have a use for it, don’t bring it home. It makes no sense to fill up your home with things you don’t like, because eventually you will have to get rid of it all. By focusing on both function and looks, you will begin to develop a sense of personal style. For every item that you bring into your home, ask yourself if it fills the two important criteria: "Do I love it?" and "Do you need it?".

Upsizing tip #2: If you don't love it, move it out

One of the most common design mistakes is the holding onto things that we don’t love or that serve no useful purpose.  However, we are often caught up by the notion that if it’s not broken, or was free, it’s worth keeping. If it’s decent, it can be sold or donated. Selling older furniture can be an excellent way to offset the cost of new. So clean out your unwanted furniture!

Upsizing tip #3: Measure your space and keep notes

With careful consideration and thought when it comes to selecting new furniture, you are laying the groundwork for future purchases as well. Likely the second most common design mistake is the purchase of furniture that simply doesn’t fit.  From the surprise of a sofa not making it through a door to a bed being too big for the available wall space, we’ve all made these kinds of mistakes. But, regardless of where you made your purchase, it’s likely going to cost something to return the piece, if returns are even possible. 

Upsizing tip #4: Consider future moves when buying furniture

Simply consider if a piece will move easily to another home and will still be useful, or will you be “stuck” with what to do with it on moving day. Over-size furniture selected for a specific room may prove too big to handle down the road.

Upsizing tip #5: Have patience and don't rush decisions

We pay for interior design with either time, money or quality. Rushed decisions, or those taken with little thought, can mean paying too much or getting something you didn’t intend. Planning and preparation, knowing what you need and what you like, will usually result in better long-term decisions and provide opportunities to save money on sales and other cost-saving measures.

Linda Merrill is a Hometalk - - writer. Get savvy and smart home & garden info like this - - on

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