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Big purchase guide: How to choose your home’s investment pieces

From regretting your choice of bathroom suite to picking the wrong dining table, getting expensive items for the home wrong can be catastrophic. Here we look at what leads us to make those costly errors, and how to avoid them in the future.
Guides Hints & Tips
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People talk about ‘forever homes’, but what about the ‘forever items’ that go in the home? For those that believe firmly in ‘built-to-last’ over ‘built-to-last-a-year-or-two’, getting things like sofas and dining tables right is just as important as choosing the perfect house. And it doesn’t just go for furniture. What about expensive artwork, bathroom suites and kitchen tiles? The thought of getting these things wrong is nothing short of stomach-churning for most homeowners.

So, what can we do to ease the burden of ‘getting it right’? Is there a magic solution that will enable us to pick those all-important investment-buys without losing sleep in the process? The answer, in short, is probably not.

But there are some things you can do speed the whole process up and reduce the likelihood of making a catastrophic mistake that will haunt you for decades.

Read on for top tips on how to keep your home’s interiors a disaster-free zone.

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1.Don’t lose sight of things

It seems like an obvious one, but when we’re making big, expensive purchases we often overthink things to the point of no return. Faced with too much choice, and too many contrasting opinions (everyone from your siblings to the sales people in the shop seem to have something to say on your new couch) – it’s easy to get distracted from what matters. In the end, we lose all sight of what we, ourselves, actually want, and why we embarked on the project in the first place.

To combat this confusion: write a list of the very first instincts you had when you decided to get your new kitchen, bathroom or living room suite. Whether it was a certain era’s style you’d recently admired, a colour scheme or even an abstract idea like ‘open space’ or ‘eclectic’, pay attention to your gut, and what first inspired you.

That way, when you find yourself veering off towards an unlikely choice just because it’s half price in the sale, or your cousin twice-removed says it’s more ‘you’, you’ll have a handy reminder of what you really set out to buy.

2.Don’t forget about practicality

Yes, yes, yes, we know the Salvador Dali-inspired ‘lips sofa’ at your local boutique interiors store is simply to die for. But is it really going to be a viable option for your main form of seating? It can be easy to forget all about comfort and functionality when buying for the home, which can lead to some of your most expensive items ending up essentially useless – other than to look at. And there’s nothing worse than being stuck in that horrible limbo where you’ve left it too long to return the item and don’t like it but have to ‘make do’ thanks to it’s gut-wrenching price tag.

To curb the temptation to go for style over substance, try to visualise whatever it is you’re thinking of buying in your home not just right now, but in the future. If it’s a high-gloss, all white kitchen but you’ve got children and pets – think about whether it’s going to be worth the constant clear-up job to keep it looking pristine. You might end up realising you’d be better off going for something that’s a little more forgiving to muddy paws and mucky hands.

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3.Think outside the box

One of the reasons we end up making the wrong choices when it comes to furniture is that we’re actually stuck in a rut. Determined not to damage our homes’ interiors with anything too adventurous, we go with what we’ve always gone with. We play it safe, and in doing so, give ourselves rigid barriers to work within – eradicating a whole world of interior design opportunity. For this reason, it pays to shake things up once in a while. Go back to the drawing board and assess whether you love certain styles because they’re fabulous, or because you’re generally lacking in inspiration.

To combat ‘stuck in a rut’ syndrome, make it your mission to get your creative juices flowing again. Browse interior design magazines, Pinterest and your friends’ homes for ideas – the more you expose yourself to, the easier it will be to visualise fresh new styles in your home. If you’ve always gone for traditional wooden dining tables, branch out and explore different materials. There’s a whole world of options to choose from if you open your mind. From marble dining tables – like this stunning Padstow Dining Table and 4 Spindle Back Chairs – to dining tables crafted out of industrial-chic metals with lashings of eye-catching chrome, the world is your oyster.

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Likewise, if you’ve always been a classic-rectangle kind of person, consider round dining tables instead – they are better for socialising around after all. Of course, this approach doesn’t have to stop at furniture. If you’ve always gone for carpet, visualise your home with tiles or exposed wooden floors and see if you can’t resist a completely new look. And if wallpaper’s always been your go-to, why not strip the walls and explore the world of paint?

Finally, if you thought a particular design wasn’t for you – that it was suited better to a more glamorous home, a more minimalist one, a bigger one or a smaller one – give your head a shake. This kind of thinking cuts us off from tons of great ideas and leads us to buy things we simply don’t love – and we must love our big purchases. If we can guarantee that, everything else will fall perfectly into place.

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