Adulting 101: How To Buy Furniture Without Losing Your Mind Or Getting Divorced

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Just like that first trip you took to Home Depot voluntarily, nothing feels quite like adulting as much as buying something with a tag that says you’ll be arrested for removing. Whether you have good taste, bad taste or no taste (or you just aren’t sure either way), buying furniture is generally expensive, time-consuming and one of life’s major annoyances if you do it wrong. So, don’t do it wrong.

Two years ago, I got rid all of 99% of my furniture. My then fiancé (now husband) and I were moving into our first place together and it was time to cleanse myself of all things bachelorette. He also got rid of all of his furniture. Not because I mostly hated it, but because we were in the process of combining things like airline miles and sock drawers.

Here are the most important things I learned throughout the process.

Measure The Room, Measure The Furniture, Measure Your Head

This might be the most important tip. Buy a tape measure and figure out the dimensions of the room you plan on putting the furniture in. If you aren’t sure if something is going to be proportional, ask for a tear sheet, go home and measure. If you still aren’t sure if something is the right size, take masking tape (string and dental floss also work) and outline the pieces on the floor.

Ask Yourself How Long You Are Going To Use The Furniture For

Because we were buying quite a bit (and by that I mean literally everything), we decided that what made the most sense was to buy furniture I’d keep for five(ish) years. That seemed like an adequate time goal. While I am not sure my bedroom set will be in my bedroom for more than five years, I love it enough and it’s good enough quality to be relegated to my future guest room. If I change my overall décor style when I move, my current bedroom set can easily work.

If you are in a place in life where you aren’t sure how permanent your current home is, it’s not necessary to invest in expensive furniture that you probably have to sell or throw out later. But if you are truly adulting, aim for the space that is between crap and heirloom. That being said, if you buy nice things, you can always have them moved, NBD. 

Consider What You Are Going To Use Most

Things like couches are really important because you sit on them and probably choose the rest of your furniture around that one large piece. You sleep on a mattress every single night. You likely pass out and possibly drool on your throw pillows. On that note, my throw pillows were expensive and all I want to do two years later is throw them out. A coffee table that is too short will annoy you on the regular. Spend your time/money/energy where it counts.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fall In Love

If there is a piece of furniture or décor you really love—think about it like an outfit. You can buy the fancy designer version or you can buy the less expensive Forever21 version. The same applies to furniture. If you have a reasonable budget, you can probably find a version of it you can afford. You might just have to search a little, but it is possible. There are even knockoffs or as they call it in Furnitureland, “replicas.”

Ask Questions

Let’s say you find a piece you LOVE, but it’s not within your budget, ask someone working at the store when they are having a sale. Stores find ANY reason to have a sale—after Christmas, Arbor Day, National Donut Day, etc. Sure you might have to wait a few weeks, but it’s totally worth it. Also, find out if there are any floor models available.

The same goes for colors. If you see something you like but the color doesn’t work—it might be available in another color, even if you don’t see it right there.

Stores Want To Give You Financing

This is not a finance blog and I’m certainly not telling you to buy something you can’t afford, but let’s say you have some cash coming in and you can’t wait for a television stand--just finance it. Pretty much every furniture store, whether it’s a local store (Stu’s Furniture) or a major like Crate and Barrel offer financing, often at a lower rate for a specific time period. Don’t deprive yourself of something you really want if you can’t afford it upfront or rack up a ton of interest on your current card.

There are also other benefits of store credit cards including discounts, events, free shipping, etc. If you aren’t sure if a store offers financing, just ask. When I was deep into my furniture hunt, I noticed some stores had signs out while others did not.  

Remember It’s Not Forever

Two years into this furniture and I’m already thinking about what I will do next go-round.  

A Gift Guide For All The Special Snowflakes In Your Life

They say it’s better to give than receive, but not when gift giving feels like a burden. We all want to give the people we care about (or the people we pretend to care about) meaningful presents, but it’s not always easy. Whether giving a gift is an act of love or simply an obligation, you don’t have to overthink about it any longer because I’ve already done that for you. Here are my favorite gifts for all the difficult people on your list. No matter what your budget is, any one of these gifts will guarantee a smile and potentially a thank you card. 

Your Significant Other’s Mom

You Hooked Up 5 Times and Have No Idea Why You’re Even At This Dinner ($)

Even if you are meeting the parents a little sooner than you would have liked to, you still need to bring a nice holiday gift. A personalized Go-Comb is perfect for those occasions when you need to make a statement that won’t affect your bank statement. For $21.99, this personalized comb has a mirror on the back and fits in any wallet. What says, “I actually care,” more than something you had personalized? The Go-Comb is my favorite budget gift for everyone on my list this year.

Sucking Up Chic ($$)

With notes of pomegranate, mandarin, pine, cloves and cinnamon, nothing smells like the holidays more than Nest’s Diffuser. Designed to fit with any décor, this reed diffuser will remind your SO’s mother of how wonderful you are every time she walks past it. 

Future Mother-In-Law ($$$)

Kate Spade’s Charlotte Street Platter is one of my favorite gifts of all time. I’ve purchased it twice, once for my mother-in-law and then for myself. If your future mother-in-law is into entertaining, she can never have too many platters. Remember, if you’re probably going to spend the holidays with this woman for the rest of her life, no gesture is too grand. 

The Man In Your Life

Dudes are the hardest to buy gifts for. You want them to think you care, but not too much. These ideas are also great for boyfriends, dads, brothers, etc.

Beyond FWB ($)

Treat him to a fancy but affordable grooming product bundle from Dollar Shave Club. While we know this is a gift for him, it’s also a gift for you because he will smell like a clean walk in the woods and not like the “drunk frat dude,” scent so many men’s products are unfortunately infused with.

Boyfriend ($$)

If he’s been carrying around the same old laptop bag since college and now he has a real job, it’s time to help him upgrade. MRKT’s Mateo Briefcase is made from durable felt and vegan micro suede. It fits a laptop and has tons of pockets to help organize his stuff. It’s a serious bag, while being stylish and so not stuffy.

Ring On It Zone ($$$)

If he’s put a ring on it (or is about to), you need to reciprocate. So, go big with a pair of shoes from Beckett Simonon. Featuring a variety of timeless styles, every pair is handcrafted in Europe or South America. Much like your love, these shoes are very high quality and designed to last for years to come. 

That Hippie/Vegan/Yogi Person In Your Life

OM ($)

Feel The Love Transformation Cards are like having an entire deck of mirror messages. Because who doesn’t love positive affirmations?

Heart ($$)

Designed by #GirlBoss Peri Donch, Peri’s Ombre Everything bag is made of 100% sustainable cotton canvas and hand-dyed in Los Angeles. It’s super hippie chic and machine washable, which will be helpful when her bottle of Kombucha accidently leaks inside her pretty purse.

Namaste Friends Forever ($$$)

Mindful Mosaic’s Core Chakra Gift Box was carefully curated by creator of Core Chakra, Dani Havasy. It contains everything you need to balance your chakras (even if you have no ideas what a chakra is) from essences to crystals and even yummy treats.

Your Fashionista Friend

You know that friend whose style you equally admire and are intimated by? She’s hard to buy a gift for because you know she might judge you. But that’s why you love her.

On Fleek ($)

Even if you can’t shell out for a coveted Christian Lacroix purse, you can buy an equally stylish notebook.

Influencer ($$)

Jac Vanek knows what is important. This zip pouch speaks the truth with enough room for tweezers and at least five of her favorite eyebrow products. 

Best Dressed ($$$)

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Celebrity stylist Ali Levine’s collaboration with Sterling Forever has some of the chicest accessories this side of the red carpet. No matter what your friend’s signature style is, she will love the Roman Numeral Bracelet.

That Boring Couple Whose Party You’re Obligated To Attend

We all know that even the even the strongest booze won’t help get their party started. But you know what will? Spank The Yeti! ($25) Invented by a dirty-minded lady, think of this game as F*ck, Marry, Kill on crack, where you learn a whole lot abut the people you are playing with and laugh hysterically. You’ll have so much fun, you won’t even have to fake a reason for leaving early. If Spank the Yeti is a little too naughty for this couple’s taste or they have a kid, Schmovie is a more appropriate, but equally fun choice. 

White Elephant Party  

Picking up a Starbucks gift card along with your latte the morning of the party makes you look like a jerk. This year, buy a gift that will get stolen more than once like this Black Marble Cheese Board from CB2. 

Becky With The Not-So-Good Hair

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Do you have a friend with hair issues who is always asking to borrow a rubber band? Why doesn’t she have her own? It’s because she doesn’t have the Maria Shireen Hair Tie bracelet. Sophisticated, but sneaky, these bracelets look like trendy bangles, but are designed to hold hair ties. There are several styles starting at $35.

Your Friend Who Is Almost Annoyingly Obsessed With Her Cat

She will be equally obsessed with the LoveCats ring from Cat Bird ($32). Handmade of bronze in Brooklyn, she will be the trendiest lady outside the litter box. 

Your Friend Who Loves Her Dog So Much, It Has Its Own Instagram Account

Get her a hand-printed tea towel from Best In Shore ($15). There are a variety of breeds available (only the cute ones) and a portion of sales is donated to animal rescues. Bonus karma points included.

Your Pregnant Friend

Everyone is buying her stuff for the baby, so why not be the cool person who buys her something she can use right now? Say hello to Hello Mellow’s Mommie To Be Gift Set ($68). It contains everything her changing body needs to relax including a scrub, body oil, body butter and the brilliantly named, I Can’t See My Feet Soak. Made of entirely of safe ingredients you can actually pronounce (even if you’ve had 6 champagne punches at her baby shower), Hello Mellow was created by Tracey Feldstein, a #GirlBoss, healer, and massage therapist.

Your Friend With A New Baby

People with new babies tend to get a lot of swag, but 45 books, 37 receiving blankets and 25 onesies later, what this person really wants is a night out. Get them a gift certificate to Helpr, which is a new app where they can book a pre-screened babysitter On Demand. It costs $21 per hour (3 hour minimum), so it’s reasonable and will be much appreciated.

 Your Busy Friend Who Has No Time For Herself

Get her the Iluminage Deluxe Anti-Ageing Gift Set. It has an eye mask, gloves and socks made with patented copper technology that helps fighting aging while you sleep. Help her multi-task in ways she didn’t even know she could.