One of the scariest things about being an adult is buying real, grown-up furniture. Well, maybe not, but it is definitely daunting. You're officially beyond your dorm-room days, putting together an apartment that you're happy to call home. Chances are you don't have a massive decor budget, and you're still working with a bunch of IKEA staples and hand-me-downs from parents and ex-roomies — but you should still treat yourself when you can. It only takes one or two great investment pieces to take a room from blah to blog-worthy. The key is knowing which pieces are worth the splurge and how to maximize their effect once you've made the big purchase.
A big furniture purchase is just like a big wardrobe purchase. The thing should reflect, complement, and elevate your personal style. It should be something with staying power. Assuming you're a relatively responsilble person, you would not spend a ton of money on a trendy pair of shoes you'll only wear for a season — you'd splurge on the perfect leather bag you've had your eye on for months, because you know you're ready to commit. Same goes for decor. Go ahead and give your accent wall some oversized palm frond paper, but make your big moves with strategy.
We've partnered with Ellen's Design Challenge on HGTV to share five tips for decorating your space around an investment piece, and take the stress out of shopping for your home like a grown-up. It's totally doable, and your dream apartment style is more attainable than you think.
Ellen's Design Challenge premieres on Monday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET.
1. Choose Wisely
Monroe Mid-Century Leather Sofa, $2,499, West Elm
First, you need to make sure you're picking the right piece to invest in. For example, if you spend most of your time in your living room and take good care of your things, a great couch might be the thing for you. A timeless shape, structure you love, max comfort, and color are prime considerations. Whether you pick a bold color and unexpected shape or something super clean and classic, make sure that your pillows, throws, and surrounding decor keep this piece center stage. Complement your choice and show it off a little — don't drown it out.
2. Pick A Prime Spot
Large Mongolian Lamb Bench, $1,995, Jonathan Adler
Make your investment piece a focal point of your room. After all, it's something you love and should get the attention it deserves. A decadent furry bench could be a great alternative to extra seats around your coffee table, or even placed at the foot of your bed.
3. Accessorize Responsibly
Nathan Yong Line Bar, $3,585, Design Within Reach
When you're investing in a great piece for your favorite room, you should honor the integrity of the piece and treat it like a work of art. That's not to say you should tip-toe around your stuff and not enjoy it, but be aware of what you're putting on and around it. Say you just got a beautiful walnut bar — you don't want to stuff it with tarnished glasses and sticky old bottles. If you're working with a really great coffee table, don't cover it in magazines and knick-knacks. If your big buy is an awesome bookshelf, take care to arrange your books by shape or color, and stay away from unattractive clutter.
4. Keep Your Focus
Firefly II Pendant Light, $299, CB2
Now that you're older and more sophisticated (right?) you know that less is more. This is why you're investing in home decor and putting some thought into your space. You don't want your key pieces to get lost in a sea of riffraff that you don't really need around. Clean up, get rid of old things you aren't using, and think of your space as a whole. You can keep the rest of your items affordable, and they won't look cheap if you're paying attention to details and color. For example, a brightly patterned tissue box can turn into a $3 eyesore that brings down an entire room. Yes, really. Draw the eye to the pieces you actually want to be seen.
5. Be Color Conscious
Assembly Home Anais Chair, $389, Urban Outfitters
It's easy to fall in love with a hot pink velvet chair and convince yourself that you need it. If you think about it and decide that you can make it work, go for it. But it's more than likely you'll be investing in something that will end up looking cheap and out of place with the rest of your things. If you want a bold statement piece, go for a color that works in with your existing palette. If you love prints, choose one that won't be limiting. I'm not saying you should always stick to neutrals, but be aware of your overall room vibe when you step outside the box. Bring a paint swatch of your walls to hold next the piece before you buy, and make sure to consider what you already have and what else you're willing to update.
Image: Design Within Reach
This post is sponsored by Ellen's Design Challenge on HGTV. Tune in for the premiere of Season 2 on Monday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET.