Transitioning Furniture & Decor from a Temporary Apartment to a Permanent Home
For many people, apartment living is a transitional arrangement that will eventually lead to moving into a house. The challenge becomes how to furnish an apartment with pieces that will grow with you when you become a homeowner. It requires forethought, planning and sometimes spending a little more now for a bigger payoff later. But stocking an apartment with long-lasting furniture doesn't have to break the bank or cramp your style.
Wood is Good
Learn it now and remember it: solid wood furniture lasts. It might be cheaper to buy a particle board table that comes in a box and requires assembly, but in a couple of years it will be on the curb in pieces. Solid wood tables are durable pieces of furniture that will still be in use for generations.
How joints are constructed is the primary factor is determining the quality of a piece of wood furniture. Dovetail and mortise-and-tenon are the most durable kinds, with wooden pegs and screws also acceptable. Anything held together with staples, glue, or nails should be avoided. Solidly constructed pieces will hold up to daily use in your apartment and have the wherewithal to weather the jostling of being moved to your future home.
However, Not All Wood
There are three main kinds of wood: solid wood, veneer and particle board/composite wood. Solid wood is generally the most expensive and makes for the most versatile furniture. It can be stripped and re-stained innumerable times, and minor blemishes can be sanded out.
Veneers begin with either a core of less-expensive wood covered by layers of higher-quality wood, or a core of stronger wood covered by a thin layer of finer or showier wood. Furniture made this way can cost less than solid pieces, but it can still be of good quality. When purchasing, check it carefully looking for a core of solid wood or nine-layer plywood to ensure that is will last. Remember the drawback of this construction, refinishing is tricky, so you're likely married to the color and any nicks or blemishes that it acquires for the duration.
Particle board/composite wood is basically made from wood scraps and sawdust held together with some sort of binder such as plastic. Anything that comes in boxes and requires assembly is probably made from this material. It is a short-term fix with no real lasting value.
Plan ahead so you are only collecting versatile furniture with a long lifespan. Before you buy, think about whether the piece will satisfy your long-term needs. Can it be repurposed into something else? Can it easily be painted, refinished, recovered or rearranged to fit a new space? Does its size expand or contract?
Daybeds are a perfect example. Choose a firm mattress, line it with large throw pillows, and use it as a sofa during your apartment years. Add a skirt and the underside offers plentiful storage for a smaller space. If you don't need the storage, let the legs show and open up your cozy living room to make it appear larger. When you move into your house, move it to a bedroom or office for guests.
Dining room tables with additional leaves are an excellent choice as they will grow with you. Use the smallest possible size in your apartment as a dining table, side table or desk. For now, store the leaves. When you move, put the leaves in place and you're ready to entertain guests or for an expanding family.
That table will need seating, and you can plan now for that eventuality. Choose dining chairs with a common design, like Chippendale, Windsor, mission or shaker, and buy as you go. Pick up two to four now for your apartment, then add more when you have space later. There are versatile choices for expanding your seating, add a complementing bench or banquette, or select contrasting pair of upholstered chairs to pair with your wood chairs. Dining room sets with mixed chairs, especially at the ends of the table, offer a unique, custom look that has become a growing trend.
Get Snug with Rugs
Rugs are always a wise investment. For some apartments, they are an absolute necessity to add visual warmth, cut down on noise or simply cover ugly floors. After moving to a house, they can break up large living rooms into smaller seating areas. Quality rugs will last for years, so choose neutral colors in designs that work for a variety of spaces and that you will continue to love over time. If you can't afford a good-sized rug now, buy a smaller one in a pattern you like and layer it over a larger, less expensive rug.
Be Restrained with Color Choices
Whatever you are buying, avoid trendy hues that are popular in the moment. It's always best to stick to neutrals for large, expensive pieces like sofas, sectionals and rugs. You can always brighten your space and change the look with far less expensive pillows, throws, decor and accent chairs. Dark colors will wear better and last longer than lighter ones. Look for tough, stain-resistant fabrics like linen, tweed, Microfiber and leather.