The opportunity to craft your own space can seem daunting at first — where do you start? Furniture is pricey and not all of us are as talented as Bob the Builder. We are here to simplify it for you. There are many ways to transform a house into a home, and we are here to offer some insight on the best way create a sanctuary for you to live, thrive and succeed.
Furniture and decor is expensive and overwhelming. To the first-time furniture shoppers who don’t know where to begin, let’s break it down.
“Think about what is really needed,” said Joanna Lombard, a professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture. “Each person has their bare minimum and that is a good place to start.”
Whether that “bare minimum” is a futon and crate, or two chairs and a cafe table, these beginnings depend on what characteristics are most important to you. Once you establish a foundation, you can begin to incorporate what Lombard described as “extras.”
pieces like a mirror or a lamp, or decorative like pillows and bedding. By acquiring these things as you go along, you can easily avoid overspending and impulse buying at the beginning of the process.
“Try to furnish life rather than accommodate life to an idea of furnishings,” said Lombard.
Knowing what your basics are completes step one. Next is finding economically sound, long lasting, unique pieces of furniture that represent your style. Beware of splurging on expensive home style trends, as these pieces rarely stay in style for a long period of time.
Additionally, try diving into the world of Do It Yourself. Not the early 2000s DIY trend of making purses out of duct tape, but instead take the time to carefully craft customizable pieces that fulfill your needs perfectly. Check out Pinterest for loads of inspiration to get a feel for what styles you like, then invest the time into DIYs.
“If you have patience and are willing to put work into something, finding thrift shop items can work as well as spotting items that other people are putting out on the street for trash pick-up,” said Lombard.
Thrift Your Heart Out
When it comes to furniture, Miami thrift stores do not disappoint. Look no further than Dragonfly Thrift Boutique and Classy Not Trashy Thrift Shop for unique pieces that are waiting to find a home. In your search for the perfect items, don’t forget to stop by a Goodwill or Salvation Army. Many pre-loved pieces of furniture and decor can be found in these stores as well — hidden gems if you will.
Online sellers have also taken a new spin on pre-owned furniture. Looking through accredited and reliable apps like OfferUp and eBay can be a great way to expand your virtual options.
Once you’ve thrifted an item that isn’t one hundred percent your style, there are a few ways to go about what social media has coined a “thrift-flip.” Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and try something new. Reupholstering a few chairs and a couch could be the key to finalizing your space. DIY home trends are constantly flooding social media, so save a few videos, gather the right materials, and enjoy the time it takes to make a space uniquely yours — it’s a privilege.
Chalk paint has also revolutionized the way DIY designers go about refurbishing tables, chairs, and even cabinets. This thin, opaque paint went viral for its versatility. Whether you are going for a full coverage paint job or a vintage distressed look, this paint does it all. Chalk paint is easy to use and any Home Depot or Lowe’s, the paint comes in a wide variety of colors to fit any aesthetic or theme desired.
Some may not have the patience or time it takes to master the thrift flip. If a quick buy and build sounds more your speed, many have found Ikea to be a reliable option. As a college student, building furniture together could also be a great way to get familiar with basic hardware and hang out with new roommates. Talk about some team bonding!
The driving force behind what Lombard defined as “extras” is going to look different for everyone. People are unique, and therefore are going to have different ways to complete a room. Individual style can been influenced by a variety of factors.
“My mom is a fashion icon,” said junior Navya Kulhari. “Our home is decorated with a lot of stuff from her childhood, things she handmade from India, and places they have traveled.”
When designing her space, Kulhari drew inspiration from her mother’s approach to memorabilia. Kulhari’s first experience furnishing a living space was redoing her childhood bedroom shortly after her sophomore year in high school.
“It was the first time I had a say,” said Kulhari. “Even then I asked mom because she can make things look nice. I had a pink room and my mom helped me not make it look childish. I was super excited about that because before it was nude.”
Make It Memorable
Similar to the story of the pink room, Kulhari’s extras are rooted in her own memories.
“I like storing memorabilia,” said Kulhari. “Memories are important, my Harry Styles poster has got to stay up, you know?”
Sophomore architecture student Carlos Hernandez recommends investing in pieces that bring comfort to a new, and sometimes overwhelming space.
“With all the new obstacles and experiences that college brings, it could get overwhelming really fast. I get stressed out very easily, and knowing what relaxes you is really important to how you decorate your space,” said Hernandez. “I have a bunch of stress relief candles and warm lighting in my room because I’ve found that those ground me when I start to get overwhelmed.”
All things considered, in order to furnish the ideal living area for the first time, design a space where you can adequately function while leaving room for creativity and comfort.
Moving out means responsibility, but it also means freedom. In this case, freedom to design a unique space perfect for the next chapter of your life. So make sure to decorate the space in a way that feels true to who you are.
words_lauren ferrer. design_ lizzie kristal. photo_ sharron lou & isa márquez.
This article was published in Distraction’s Winter 2022 print issue.