Episode #223: Buying Furniture for Your Home – Deep Dive

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By Sohaib

We have gotten tons of questions regarding buying furniture for your house, like how do you know what will work best in your room or what fabrics are the most durable. So today, we are deep diving into all things buying furniture.

You can find the podcast posts archive here.

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Show Notes:

Nova’s Girl Scout Cookies

Check out the wallpaper that Emma used in her kids’ bedrooms Oscar’s room/Nursery

How to know what furniture will look best in a room

Make a mood board

Pick color scheme

Choose 1-2 wood finishes

Pick out your metals (we recommend 1-2)

Set a budget

Go with the style of when your house was built

Get your partner or roommates opinion

Measure everything

Use painter’s tape to make out how big your furniture or rug is

Make a model of furniture out of cardboard boxes

Where do you buy most of your furniture

Emma’s handmade wooden desk – My friend is working on their website launch now. I’ll have to share it once it’s live as his work is so high quality and I love my desk.

Here’s Elsie’s rugs from Etsy (the company is The Rug Decor and they are no longer on Etsy).

Tips for customizing your furniture

Check out our blog post on The Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets

Spray paint

Make your own dining room table

Throw pillows and throw blankets are your best friend

Use a slipcover

Check out our blog post about Elsie’s Painted Couch

Favorite fabrics from sofa and couches

Leather (this is very similar to Elsie’s sofa)


Your favorite piece of furniture that you own

Emma – Piano they got from her husband’s parents

Elsie – Swan fireplace, living room fireplace, Rosemary’s baby fireplace, kitchen island, and hanging wicker chair

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Episode 223 Transcript:

Emma: You’re listening to the Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort listen, and we’ve gotten tons of questions regarding buying furniture for your house. Like, how do you know what will work best in your room? What fabrics are the most durable? So today, we are deep-diving into all things buying furniture.

Elsie: So before we jump in, let’s talk about your new baby room. 

Emma: Yeah. So we’re finally trying to kind of set it up, mostly. Maybe not everyone feels this way, but first kid, it’s like, you don’t have any kids. So you have all this time and you’re excited. I was so excited to be a mom. So everything was all the way set up, ready to go before he was ever born. This kid, I think it’s going to be 70 percent set up before he arrives. And I think that’s pretty good. That’s my goal. So, you know, like, his crib probably won’t be in there, but he won’t even sleep in his crib for the first, you know, four, five, six months, anyway, he sleeps in our room. 

Elsie: I think it’s totally fine if you put some stuff in there to make it special, and you can take, like, one little picture for your baby book, I think that’s all you need to do. Remove the pressure. 

Emma: We just want to get most of the boxes out and stuff. But one big thing in my world is we’re doing a wallpaper accent wall in his nursery, which is currently a guest bedroom.

Elsie: What kind of wallpaper?

Emma: It’s Spoonflower and it’s kind of like, so your house is very historical. My house is a lot more minimal, a little bit of modern, and then a little bit eclectic because we just have Trey’s old family piano and it’s, you know, kind of an antique. You know, it’s a little eclectic, but if I had to sum it up, I would say it’s minimal and modern. A little bit of this century, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. So anyway, the wallpaper I’ve picked is, to me, it kind of vibes like modern So, it’s mostly blue, but then it has these little orange circles, it almost looks, something about it makes me think of, you know those badminton balls? It kind of looks like a tennis ball with feathers on it. It doesn’t actually have that, like, symbol in it or anything, but it kind of vibes like that to me. And then I felt like we were putting an accent wall in the nursery. And I would just always want to put an accent wall in Oscar’s room. He currently doesn’t have any wallpaper. We just kind of set up everything that we had when we moved. And I’ve put up art like I feel like his room feels nice, but it doesn’t have any wallpaper. So I thought we would do an accent wall in his room too at the same time, in part because then it just is more worth it for our wallpaper hanger to come to my house. But also I just didn’t want Oscar to feel like his brother’s getting all this new stuff, and he gets nothing. I don’t know if he’d even notice, but, you know, I just want him to feel like we’re doing a little thing in your room, too. 

Elsie: I definitely don’t think he would notice. But I do think it’s good to batch, like, wallpaper install and, like, home tasks. That makes sense completely. Like, why not, you know? 

Emma: So he is, like, blue hand-painted checkers, is what it looks like. So it’s kind of modern, too, in a way, and kind of minimal for wallpaper. So anyway, they’re both blue. They’re different colors blue. And I think they’re gonna look really cute. I’m really excited about them. 

Elsie: Would you put them in the show notes to show everyone? 

Emma: Yeah. I think I put them in a 10 Things Sunday maybe a few weeks ago, but I’ll link them again so you can see them. Cool. 

Elsie: Yeah. I’m excited to see that sounds really cute. 

Emma: They’re cute. I think Oscar’s going to really like his and I’m sure our other kid will like his vagina. He’ll be a baby. So they’ll love it. 

Elsie: I mean, my experience of it was that maybe like the baby rooms are a little bit more for you because like when they get older, like our kids are excited about their rooms now, but I don’t know that they probably even remember their baby rooms, think there is something like a good nesting experience about it of just like setting it up and thinking about it and getting books and some plushies and just like the little, you know, it’s, it’s special. 

Emma: Yeah. And you spend a lot of time in there, especially that first year, you know, just like nursing and getting them down for naps and this and that. And so it feels nice in there. It doesn’t have to be like perfect or whatever, but just. It’s not feeling like it’s all cardboard boxes that I still need to set up. It’s not all undone chores to me; that makes me feel a lot more settled. So yeah we’re going in that direction. 

Elsie: Okay. So this episode is all about buying furniture for your home. So we are going to sort of like teach you how to do it if you’re moving into your first home, your first apartment. Or you are in a situation like I’ve been in a few times where you want to like completely change, you know, you’re like, I think I’m going to sell everything and then just like change to a different style or like I’m moving to a house that’s a completely different style or something like that. Yeah, just last year we did that where we furnished our current home, we had sold our previous home furnished, so we didn’t really bring almost anything. We brought, like, a few, a few small pieces, but almost all the furniture stayed, which was kind of fun, but I had to, like, buy everything pretty quickly. So this is pretty fresh on my mind, and I think this will be fun to talk about, because I have a passion for, like, flea markets and vintage pieces and all of that. I think it’s great and we’ll, like, definitely go into that in detail. But you can’t buy everything from a store like that. You do have to order, at least I did, to just, like, make it a reasonable, functional home as quickly as possible for our young children and our own sanity I wanted to do it quickly. We can talk about both, which is exciting. 

Emma: So, the first question we have is, how do you know what furniture will look best in a room?

Elsie: Okay, so, when you are preparing to move into a new home or preparing to remodel a home, the first step, I think, is always to make a mood board. A mood board is so essential, that it is life-changing. I don’t think you should ever start just, like, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on furniture without a mood board. It’s just worth it. So it can be as simple as just making a folder on your computer and just pulling pictures from Pinterest or a pin board, and it can be as complicated as making a beautiful mood board in Canva or Photoshop for every single room. Whatever level you want to be at, the thing that I love to do is to do a color scheme for every house. A mood board is one thing, and then the color scheme is more like the paint colors, I think, but you know, it also ends up tying into furniture. And I think it’s good to have one or two wood finishes that you’re focusing on. So you’re not just like going everywhere. Like you’re, you know, you, you know what your go-to wood finishes are. It makes it easier to pick out. Like, I think in the color scheme, you could also put your go-to metals because I think it’s good to have, you don’t have to have just one, like, you don’t have to be, like, all gold everything, like, you get decision fatigue usually, and I think, like, if you just start just, like, ordering the first thing that pops up when you start searching, that will not be good, so having, like, go to, like, I want to do mostly black hardware, I want to do mostly dark bronze, is good to have.

Emma: I will also say I think the mood board is a great way if you’re going to be working with others, so like if you are in a place where you’re going to be working with an interior designer, giving them the mood board you’ve put together and then they can do their thing from there is great. But also, generally, this is a great time to get roommates or partners, and spouses on board show them the mood board, and see if they have any strong reactions to any of the metals, wood grains, or colors that you’ve picked, because once you kind of get on the same page with these general big picture things, the colors, the wood grains, the metals, the style overall, you know, is it historical? Is it mid-century modern? Is it minimal? Then it’s going to be a lot easier to make a lot of small decisions and not feel like you necessarily have to involve them every single time without feeling like they’re going to maybe hate something because it’s going to fit into the overall thing that you’ve both, you know, agreed to and like, and have seen.

Elsie: I think that’s really good advice. I think that having your mood board ready is really good because anytime that we’ve changed styles, I feel like I had to sort of present it to my husband in a way that he could take in he couldn’t really just look at like a picture of like a dresser or a bed frame and have an opinion He needs to look at like a styled picture from Pinterest of someone else’s room. Yeah, so I think presenting it in a way that if your partner is not picky, but I know a lot of partners are. It’s something we get, like, tons of emails about, so I would just advise to, like, show it in context instead of trying to explain it, because they might have, like, some kind of gut reaction or have something in their mind that isn’t consistent with what really what you’re trying to do. Just show them an attractive-looking picture of a room and that, I think is the easiest way to sort of like convince someone, if you need to convince, that they can like to trust this new style or this new vision or it’s not going to be like You know, I think when we first started doing historical, my husband was like a little afraid it was going to be like every grandma, which it is. 

Emma: It’s cool grandma.

Elsie: It is cool. And I don’t think it’s grandma in a bad way, but like when we were walking through the flea market and I would just point to things that scared him, right? But then once he started seeing it in a tie-in, you know, like now that he’s seen the rooms and before that when he was seeing like pictures of, you know, like stylish rooms that felt pulled together and interesting and detail and like the style we were trying to do. The context is super important. 

Emma: Yeah, it definitely is. I mean, it’s like if you see a pair of shoes that you’re like, Oh, those are ugly. And then you see your very stylish friend who’s put together this interesting outfit wearing the shoes and all of a sudden you’re like, Oh, those are really interesting, cool shoes. And it’s like, well, yeah, cause now you’re seeing them styled in the space. You know what I mean? So it’s kind of that kind of thing. I’ll also say if you’re the type of person who has a hard time narrowing down. You’re like, I like all styles. I like all colors. One, it’s cool to have a rainbow house. That’s cool. But also, I think a great way to narrow that down. If you’re like, I love everything let your house tell you how old she is. So if you have an old house, a historical house, you know, lean into that if you have a new build that’s extremely modern lean into that like, you know If you’re a kind of person who likes lots of different things and you have a hard time narrowing it down, just let your house speak to you with what it already is because then you’re not going to be swimming against the current You’re gonna be going with the flow of what’s already the house is trying to do.

Elsie: Yeah, I agree with that. 

Emma: I was gonna say, we need to talk about measuring. 

Elsie: Measuring and scale. It is wildly different. Like, I have lived in, I don’t know, like four or five homes. And the scale in every single one was wildly different. And the biggest places where I think you can go wrong with scale are curtains.

Like, small dinky curtains are like, they will ruin the whole room. 

Emma: We were in an Airbnb over the weekend with some friends, and we were going nuts for the curtains in the house because they were all too small for every single window. They were just dinky and weird. It was like, and cut weird. And they didn’t even cover them and it made the spaces look way cheaper, like just cheap, because they were not the right size curtains. 

Elsie: Curtains are really, really important. The second thing is rugs. Like, if you cannot afford a rug that’s the correct size, you have to pick a different rug. And I get it, I get it, I’ve been there. But yeah, like, a rug that’s too small kind of will mess up the whole design, and even though I consider myself like really experienced and a professional, I still mess up on it sometimes it’s really hard not to mess up on rug sizes. So I think you do have to be willing to make returns and, you know. And I lost this once in a while. 

Emma: I’ll say your best friend can be a painter’s tape. So use painter’s tape to mark out how big something will be on a floor. So like furniture or a rug or anything like that, you can use painter’s tape to just mark it out on the floor. It’s not going to ruin anything. It literally is supposed to come off of surfaces. That’s the whole point of the painter’s tape. And you can do this like for things that how tall is it going to be against this wall? You can do it for things like that. There are times this you know, you almost need something 3D, and I’ve had friends, they will literally build 3D versions of things they’re thinking about buying out of cardboard. And I know that sounds wacky, but if you’re about to spend a couple thousand dollars and you won’t be able to return it, maybe the return policy is just dicey. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to save all your Amazon boxes and build yourself a little model to make sure that it looks right in your space.

Elsie: In some way, you have to make a model. A lot of times with rugs, you might feel like it’s going to look too big, but I think for most rooms, the biggest rug that fits is the right size rug, especially and living rooms. I don’t know, when you walk into a room, like, you’ll see it now if you haven’t ever, but like, a rug that only goes under a coffee table is sort of like the saddest possible rug. Anyway, I think getting those sizes right is so important. The biggest curtains you can fit on the wall all the way up to the ceiling, all the way down to the floor, the biggest rugs you can fit in the room. And then for furniture, getting the scale right on furniture is really tricky. I think just do the tape. Because especially if it’s like a side table or a dining room table, like the tape it’s so worth it. 

Emma: Does this dining table feel too big? Do I feel like I can move my chairs back? Do I feel, you know, or does it feel too dinky? Does it feel like the room’s going to echo? Like just, you know, tape it out and see what you think.

Elsie: And there are ways that you can hide scale problems. We have really, really bad scale problems in our current living room because the fireplace is giant and it has to be, and the room is actually not that big. And the sofa that’s there is a normal size. It’s not even a sectional, like it’s really, the scale’s crazy. And how I disguised it was by painting the fireplace the same color as the walls and then all of a sudden it disappeared a little bit and you don’t think about it as like its own piece anymore. It’s integrated so I think that’s one thing you can do you can paint things the same color to help them disappear and I think scale also comes into play with light fixtures, so if you start paying attention, you’ll see it absolutely everywhere you go. It will, like, actually ruin your life. But, like, in every restaurant, in every home, in every Airbnb you’ll ever stay in, it’s like, you have to put the right size of light fixtures, you know, above a table. Yeah. I think especially above the tables is like the worst offender when they’re super tiny or when they’re too big. I’ve had that before too, where I’m just like so attached. 

Emma: Well, I thought I had a grand space and it turns out I had a medium grand space. 

Elsie: Measuring is your best friend. The bottom line is, to measure everything. Okay. Where do you buy most of your furniture, Emma?

Emma: So at this point, a lot of stuff I’ve owned for a long time, so I wanted to mention a couple of brands that for me have like been pieces that we’ve high traffic and they’ve held up well. So we have a sectional and a couch, leather article, it’s like a tan article couch. And they’ve actually been in multiple spaces and they’ve worked really well. Right now they’re in our upstairs living room. It’s like a long living room, so it kind of has two sections to it. The back part feels like its own little space and the front part feels like its own little space. So the couch is actually back up against each other with a little table in between them to kind of separate. I’m not a huge Leather person. I’m not against it or anything. It’s just not something I tend to gravitate towards, but I will say these have gotten stains, you know, I have kids I have dogs. I have myself who’s also messy, by the way, And they look great and I feel like every little imperfection has made them look better over time. They don’t look new anymore, but they look worn in a nice way. So I really like them I think that that color leather just worked for our space and looks really nice. The other thing we have that I’ve had for a long time that I love is my Joybird sectional, which is in our downstairs living room. Aren’t we fancy? We have two living rooms. It’s kind of just an open space, but It’s more like your TV living room. It’s our TV living room. We have our projector screen in there. The color is called Taylor Felt Grey, and it is a woven material that kind of has speckles in it. Like when you look at it, it reads gray, but when you look at it up close, it kind of has speckles and I think that works great if you are the kind of person who eats on your couch, which I do, and I also let our toddler. And so it, it has little, you know, marks from ketchup and whatever else. So it’s held up great. And I still feel like it looks really, really, really good. And I’m really happy with it. But both of those brands, I’ve noticed, Article of Joybird, their pieces tend to be pretty big, which fills out a space for me because I’m the type of person, I don’t do like tons and tons of small furniture, I do like one big piece and then like a small coffee table or whatever. That’s just for me a better fit, like, you know, again, I’m kind of more minimal, so I’m like one big piece and then things build around it kind of thing. So that, and then I’ll also say, especially with our Joybird sectional, which is the woven material, I think it’s worth it to buy yourself a nice couch that you’re excited about and then get it cleaned periodically. So the place we use where I live in Springfield, Missouri is called Missouri Rug. So it sounds like it’s about rugs, but they will also clean rugs or furniture. And they literally send men to your house and they take your furniture away. I don’t know exactly everything they do, they shampoo it. I don’t know. But they clean it, and when it comes back, I’ve been shocked how, like, clean it gets. I will say, you have to have three or four days where you don’t have your couch. So you need to plan, couch chairs are like, don’t plan to host a big party right then. Like, you need to be strategic about doing something like that. But I think it’s really worth it to buy nice pieces and then have them cleaned periodically. Same thing with rugs. If you buy a really nice rug, and you’re like, Oh, but it’s going to get ruined. Have it cleaned now and again. Now they’re not miracle workers. Certain stains are not going to come out. They are not like God. But a quality cleaning place, you’d be shocked what they’re able to do with certain fabrics. 

Elsie: That’s a great tip. I’ve never done that before. It sounds like it would be really worth it. 

Emma: I’ve had the sectional cleaned every time we move because it’s like you might as well, you’re already going to pay a mover to move it. So you just pay them to take it out of your house, put it in the new house, and in the meantime clean it. And then there was one other time that I was just like, it’s getting a little grody and I just had them come and take it and honestly, I will probably do it again. I’m thinking before our son’s born, our second son, I’m going to get that cleaned again, just because, as I said, we eat dinner on our couch a lot. I let our toddler eat dinner on the couch a lot and it’s just got a lot of chicken finger crumbs and ketchup stains. And I think that they’re all going to come out and you kind of don’t even see them with the fabric. So anyway, I feel like I’m selling this couch to you. I’m not trying to. I’m just trying to give you ideas of, like, if you live in your home, which I do, then you want to have stuff that’s, like, gonna last and still look Even though you live there and you make messes and you have dogs or cats or you, you know, whatever. 

Elsie: Do you have any other go-to places that you like to shop for furniture? 

Emma: I do shop a lot on Amazon and Wayfair, especially to fill things out until I can get something nice. One piece that I love in my home, though, is this, like, handmade wooden desk. I’ll put a link in the show notes if they have their shop live, but it was a friend of mine who was getting into woodworking, and I think they’re launching their shop soon. And it’s really nice to be able to buy, like, something handmade from someone. And I’ve had it now for years, and I love it. And it’s just really sturdy, really nice, solid wood. So I do love getting pieces like that. I feel like for me, that just kind of pops up once in a while where you’re like, Oh, I see this artisan in town. And you know, because it’s tricky to do shipping for large pieces. So it’s kind of nice, I’ll have something cheap because it’s like I needed a desk. I have to work somewhere. And then a few years later, someone will be doing something cool like that. And then I’ll just buy it and replace my cheap desk, you know, give it away or sell it with something nice. And then I have a nice one forever. 

Elsie: Cool. Yeah, no, that makes sense. Okay. So for our Historic home, we bought all of our furniture last year, so I have a really good memory of this. Yeah. Okay, so I tried to buy everything I could from flea markets. I bought a little bit from Facebook Marketplace. I love Facebook Marketplace, but I feel like it has to be really special for me to go through the social gruel of like you know?

Emma: Please don’t murder me. I’m coming to get my piece. 

Elsie: I wouldn’t buy just like an everyday thing on there, but we got, you know, like our fireplace face that has the carved swans. And then I think a couple of other things, I think some outdoor chairs. And I think that when you find something truly special, it’s like really cool to get it from someone. And then they have like a story they usually tell you and things like that. But yeah, we have this amazing antique mall called Relics Antique Mall in Springfield. It’s honestly probably the best antique mall I’ve ever been to in my life, so it’s one of the things about our small town that makes me like, it’s like my anthropology.

Emma: If friends visit. We’re like, do you want to go to Relics? 

Elsie: Yeah, we have these two amazing antique malls. And then there are some really good thrifts too. So I tried to buy as much as I could from there. And I did do two trailer loads with my father-in-law. And then I had movers go pick up stuff for me, I think twice. So that’s like a lot. The thing I’ll say about buying furniture from flea markets is that even when the price seems like a lot in the flea market, it’s still usually like a Wayfair price. Like, it’s still usually not actually expensive. It just seems expensive for something used. But what you’re getting is something super high quality that the stuff I got was like a hundred years old. And some of it’s really magical and like, just, you cannot find new pieces. I’ve got a few new pieces that look antique and they’re super expensive. You cannot find brand new pieces for these prices for this quality. So yeah, I’m big about flea markets. I understand it’s not for everyone. I totally get it. Like, I’ve heard the whole thing, but I think that if you’re on a budget and or you want to do historic home decor, it can’t be beat. Obviously, it depends on where you live in the country. Okay, so my go-to’s for new furniture. I think this is going to be surprising. Okay, so my number one, like, fancy go-to is Serena and Lily. In our previous home, the McMansion, we did kind of a lot of furniture from Serena and Lily. It fits really well with the style. It’s a little more beachy. I think people would call it coastal or something like that. I love their chairs specifically. They have a pretty big variety. They have really good sales. And the quality is a 10 out of 10. The other place that I shop the most is Wayfair. And like, you literally just said, until I can buy something nice. 

Emma: Wayfair does have nice things too. I should say that. I tend to buy like, something cheaper, but they do have really nice things too. So I don’t want to make it sound like there’s nothing nice on Wayfair because that’s not true. 

Elsie: They have the reputation of being pretty much the same as Amazon, which to be fair, on Amazon you can also find things, it’s just a lot of searching. Like you will not find high-quality furniture on the first page, but you can find it eventually, as it happens. Okay, so Wayfair, I think I got used to shopping there because we used to be sponsored by them and I did a couple of Airbnbs that were mostly from there. So I just got like experience with the website and I think you do have to get used to the website and like. Any website that’s that large, you have to like, learn how to like to get your perfect search terms and, you know, we probably are training it to give you things you would like. Yeah. So almost all the furniture in my house, that’s not an antique is from Wayfair. I used to like, love shopping in Anthropologie, but oh my god, I had the experience from hell last year. So I don’t know if I would ever again like to buy furniture. Oh yeah, you did have a bad, it was like from hell. It was not good, but I also think like the style, like I love anthropology for everything else besides furniture, but like actually our little pink chairs are from there. So, you know, whatever I can eat my words. 

Emma: I like Ikea. And I think if you’re planning some kind of hack, we have a number of really good hacks on our site DIY is where you buy bookshelves and you make them look like built-ins, things like that. I think it’s a nice site, but I’ve had some bad times with it too, so I’m always kind of like 50/50 on Ikea. It depends on what you want to do. 

Elsie: I think if you’re gonna customize it, go for it. I’ve had personally really good experiences with the things I bought from there, and I think it also gets like a bad rep. I think people think it’s all gonna fall apart, and that wasn’t my experience at all. I thought it was perfectly fine, but I think if you want it to be, like, unique and original and custom looking, then you obviously have to, like, do something to it, paint it, trim it out, whatever. But yeah, I feel like it’s kind of weird, like, I don’t have, like, a special, special, like, I thought I would have more furniture places that were, like, Interesting. But I really don’t. It’s really like mostly flea markets and then the same few stores. 

Emma: I think that makes it where it is interesting, but it’s like one of those things where it’s like I can’t link where, you know, everybody loves this certain thing in your house and you’re like, Oh, I can’t link it. I bought it at a flea market or I got it in a state sale, you know, but that is kind of what makes it interesting. I’ll say too, like, in my house, a lot of my rugs, not all of them, but a lot are either from Rugs USA or eBay. I get a lot of eBay stuff. 

Elsie: We should do a rugs episode, but yeah, like, real fast, I have the most incredible rugs from Etsy. I’ll link them in the show notes. And also, I buy a lot of rugs from Rifle Paper. Like, which is so random. It’s pretty random, but they have great sales and they have amazing rugs that fit into historic spaces, at really affordable prices. And they have these ones that are like, they’re called printed rugs where it’s like, they’re totally flat. They’re really good for pet-friendly spaces and high-traffic spaces. And they’re really affordable and they just like look good. I’m very passionate about rugs. I think that I’m a little bit more careful about which ones I buy, because when you’ve had like a bad pet experience or like, you know what I mean? I’m very careful now. So the other thing I look for is natural fibers. So anything that is like the vintage rugs on Etsy and eBay cannot be beat as far as like ability to clean them. I would like not to buy a new rug that, you know, there’s certain brands that like have new rugs that look vintage and like they have them at Target and other places like that. To me, like don’t buy one of those because you can’t clean them and they’re made of synthetic materials and they just like turn bad so fast compared to like these vintage rugs that have been there for a hundred years. And a lot of times the price is cheaper. I think it’s just scary to buy them. And to be fair I did have one really, really bad Etsy experience, so I don’t know, like, it can happen. 

Emma: I mean, eBay is the same way. It’s different sellers, so you can have a bad experience or like, it’s very different from the photo. 

Elsie: Overall, I would say it’s worth the risk. My favorite rug that I’m going to link in the show notes, it’s in my living room and it’s also a stair runner on our stairs going up to the third floor. And it is like, you can order it in any size. So it’s wool. It’s a natural fiber. It’s easy to clean. It doesn’t shed. You can order it in any size. There’s literally no downside. It’s like you can customize it and it looks vintage. So, rug rant. I mean, seriously, someday we’ll do a rug episode because it’s so fun. Let’s talk about tips for painting and customizing furniture. I remember when we bought our first home, just like doing the down payment sort of like clearing out all of our savings. I think that that’s very normal. We were in our twenties, you know, and it was our first home. So then, you know, you’re left with this larger, mostly empty home that you need to furnish. So I think it’s a great opportunity to get creative and thrift and also make use of things you already have and try to basically paint everything and it works. It really, really works. First of all, if you’re going to paint furniture, we have the ultimate blog post. It is called the Best Paint for Kitchen Cabinets. And I have used this tutorial over and over again. Obviously, if you’re going to paint kitchen cabinets, please use it. Don’t ever, ever, ever paint your kitchen cabinets without sanding and priming them, and don’t use regular wall paint. It’s like the saddest thing I ever did in my life and I did do that once.

It’s actually not that much more work, it’s just getting the correct supplies and doing it, it’s a little bit more work, but it’s so worth it. I’ve used it a bunch of times. I’ve painted our bathroom cabinets, and then I also use it every time I paint furniture, especially chairs. And high traffic furniture, like chairs and tables, those, you need to do this because there’s a huge difference between hard drying paint and painting a piece of furniture with wall paint, which could get, like, tacky, it usually peels off, and if you like that e, but you probably won’t.

Emma: I think there’s a difference between like, I wanted this to look more shabby chic cottagecore versus, oh no I didn’t and it’s just peeling now, you know, like those are two really different things. To me, painting the right way, quote-unquote is kind of like baking. It’s like, you really should do it right, because otherwise your end result is just not going to be as good, and you put in most of the effort. So if you just do that extra little bit, that’s like, all the way, do it, then it turns out the way that you’re wanting. So it’s worth it. It’s really, really worth it. And it’s maybe a little bit more effort, but it’s really worth it. Or a little bit more money to buy the right supply or whatever, but you just don’t want to get to the end of your project and it’s like, I did put in a lot of work, but it’s not quite what I wanted. You know, the paint’s peeling, or in baking, you’re like, oh, these cookies didn’t rise, they spread like crazy. And it’s like, well, if you had just softened the butter or just chilled it for the 30 minutes that it said, then, you know, it’s like that kind of thing. Where it’s like, yes, it’s a little more effort, but it’s probably worth it.

Elsie: A life filled with regrets, yeah. The other thing I love to do is spray paint. And I think there is like a good case, like spray paint can be good. It’s really fast. And I do think you have to be a little bit of a perfectionist to get like it perfect. I have some issues with that, but I love the Rust-Oleum brand spray paint. That’s what I usually use. And I think the best place for it is, so we have a big porch and we bought porch furniture and we bought half of it from places like Wayfair where it came like bright, shiny, new looking really white. And then we bought half of it from Marketplace, where it looked, like, comparatively, when you sat them next to each other, like, really gray, and kind of, like, crappy?

Yeah, I just used, like, the white Rust-Oleum spray paint, and it was the most satisfying one-day project. 

Emma: Is this like, wicker furniture? Yeah! Or like, okay. 

Elsie: Yeah, wicker. And like, everything looks the same now. And they’re sitting right next to each other, you don’t really like, notice a difference. So I think for stuff like that, outdoor furniture, small pieces, low traffic pieces, like a table or chairs, I would still do it the other way. Another good thing to spray paint is like, metals, things that like, you’re not the finish of them. So a lot of times when I buy a light fixture that’s supposed to be gold, it’s like not the gold I was expecting. This is very common, but I’ve kind of found that it’s like, it’s worth it and really not that hard to just, spray paint it. If I just want a different finish. 

Emma: It almost refreshes it as opposed to, cause there, there are times I think you think of spray paint and you’re like, I spray painting this thing to like a neon pink. It’s a completely different color than it was before. And it’s like, yeah, that’s a vibe. And there are other times you can use spray paint. It almost just kind of refreshes the piece and that’s a whole thing too. And it’s really nice because spray paint is very cheap. And if you do a nice job with it and go slow, then you’ve really just kind of refreshed and sealed something as opposed to, you know, having to, I don’t even know what you would do to restore it otherwise.

Elsie: Okay, so let’s recount the craziest things we’ve ever done to alter a piece of furniture to fit our space. I know mine is that I painted a couch. 

Emma: Oh, the green couch? 

Elsie: Yeah. Okay, to be fair, it wasn’t high traffic. It was more like a side bench. 

Emma: Yeah, like an entryway bench kind of thing. 

Elsie: It was so fun, it was worth it, it’s probably still somewhere on the blog archives. It was a learning experience. And I think that when you buy thrifted furniture, you can take a risk like that. It’s like, worst case scenario, it ends up looking like something in Urban Outfitters. You know, how they have like, kinda crazy furniture? And the best-case scenario, it ends up looking new. And like, something that’s way more expensive than it really is. So I think it’s worth it to just like, try. The other thing that we did was we just bought, like, any chair we saw at a thrift store, and then we just painted them all yellow with bright yellow Rust-Oleum, and it looked really cute! It was probably one of my, like, proudest Cheap ass DIYs because it looked like it was meant to be that way and it cost almost nothing.

Emma: Yeah. I think our styles have changed too over time. So, I mean, that’s kind of part of it too is like, Oh, I wouldn’t do that pattern now, but I would still stencil a wall. And yeah, when you don’t have the budget for wallpaper. Learning to paint an accent wall with or by hand, depending on what the design is, I think is really smart and like kind of the option, kind of the move. Yeah. So other tips for other things. So like let’s say this one’s so simple, but you’ve moved, you already bought your couch, you cannot afford to get a different couch or you at least have to have this one for a while and it really doesn’t go with your new space.

Really, throw pillows and throw blankets are your best friend. 

Elsie: I would also say slipcovers. I love slipcovers. 

Emma: Yeah, it depends on the couch, definitely, if you can do a slipcover. 

Elsie: I think that they look cool. Like, I would try to talk my husband into it, and it’s like the one thing that he’s still holding out on me for. I’ll eventually I will have the slipcover couches because they’re very Nancy Meyers. They’re in every Nancy Meyers movie, and I feel like that’s very affordable. 

Emma: I also love throw pillows and throw blankets for seasonal decor, like swapping them out for Halloween and Christmas ones at different times of year. I also think they’re a great way if you’re on a really, really tight budget, but want to support small businesses like Justina’s company. Then that might be something maybe you can’t buy the piece of furniture that you’d like to buy, you know, one day you will, but maybe not this year. Then you can buy throw pillows, throw blankets, accent pieces, you know, kitchenware. And this stuff can add a lot of personality to your space. And especially if you have other bigger items that you can’t really afford to replace or you need to bring from your old house or whatever. And you’re like, one day I’ll replace this. I think you should think that too. Like so much when I was younger, I had the mindset of, we just moved in and I want to get the whole house set up in the first month. And now I really don’t think that way. I kind of think like, this is my house for an indefinite amount of time and I’m going to make it beautiful the whole time I’m here. 

Elsie: The other day I heard Emma say, this house will look great when I’m 45.

Emma: And I’m currently 38 like that’s more of my mindset now. And I think there’s a certain level of you have to have enough things in your home where it’s functional. You can use the spaces you have, you know like if you work from your home, you need a desk. You can’t just sit on the floor. Maybe you can, but I cannot sit on the floor every day and work on my laptop. That’s going to kill my back. You’re going to have to kind of fill it in maybe for a while, there are moments like that. I also think taking a longer view of your home, even if you’re a person who does move a lot, maybe you know because of your job or your partner’s job or whatever, you’re often in places two to five years. Then I think collecting things that are just meaningful to you and also recognizing that some of that’s going to just change over time. You’re just, you’re a snake who’s shedding their skin. You’re beautiful and new every, every time, and you’re a Facebook marketplace. That’s great too. Like I just don’t think that it really helps anyone to have a mindset of I just moved in and everything has to be perfect and fully decorated like a 60-year-old the first month because it’s like, okay, well, that may not fit your budget, that may not fit your time. You might have to work and care for your kids. You don’t have time to the flea market every single day. 

Elsie: Even if you have an unlimited budget, I don’t think it’s possible. Maybe if your standards are really low, but if your standards are high, I don’t think it’s possible to finish a house in a month. I mean, at least I couldn’t do it. I think that if you value that, like, collected look, you have to collect, you know, and I think if you try to rush, you’ll end up with pieces that you bought just because you were having guests over or, you know, and that you don’t really love, which is I think a mistake. I think it’s worth it. Yeah, get the main stuff. Maybe even like do one space the way you really want it, but don’t try to do it all. So I think just like give yourself more of a longer timeline. And I understand how hard that is because I definitely always think I can do it faster than I really can, but you know, maybe you’ll learn the hard way like I did.

Emma: It’s definitely a mindset shift. I think it’s a good thing to have in your mind because a lot of times we’ll get questions from listeners, from readers that are like, what do you do if you’ve painted and now you realize it’s the wrong color? Do you just cut your losses and immediately repaint or do you leave it for a while? Or they’re in a situation where they don’t really have the budget to redo the whole, like maybe it was kitchen cabinets and it’s like, you know, kind of pricey or maybe their partners like, no, you have to live with this for a while or something. Then I kind of think it’s good to be like, okay, how about I will repaint it in two years. Is that a good compromise zone? Cause you know, if you’re going to need to hire someone, if it’s something like that kind of job, or if you’re just going to have to rebuy the supplies and it’s not in your budget for this month, cause you just did it last month. 

Elsie: You’re a master compromiser. 

Emma: How can I just make this cute for a little while? And in my mind, I know in two years, I will redo this because it wasn’t the right thing. And by then you may have a whole different thing you want to do anyway. So it’ll work out. 

Elsie: Yeah. No, we have that situation in our house right now. No matter how much you plan once in a while, that’s going to happen. And I think it’s good to just know that it’s not you. It’s just a part of the process that, you know, sometimes you do something and it just doesn’t turn out. There’s just something about it that you didn’t plan for, or there’s something about it that just doesn’t work. So, favorite fabrics for sofas and couches. This one’s simple for me. I love the leather for myself. I understand if you’re vegan, I get it, but I love leather because it’s super duper cleanable. Like, my dogs will straight up pee a river on my couch. Like, they just, just horrible things have happened. Like, one time Jeremy spilled, like, not even, like, Chinese food, but just, like, it was more like a pile of grease. It was, like, you know what I mean? Just straight oil. Things have happened that weren’t good, and our sofas, like, still look, it’s almost like washing your hair, like, when it’s a natural thing, it is possible to get it all the way out, and that is really meaningful to me, and since I’m not a perfectionist, and the other thing is, I like how they age. I love how they age. I like, they look better when they’re old than they do when they’re new, which is hard to say about a lot of things. 

Emma: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. I kind of already talked about my article couches that are leather and how I think they look better now than when we first got them and they’re much older now and have spots and crinkles. And I just think they look good though. They look like they’re meant to be. Yeah, and then, yeah, natural, as much as you can, natural fibers and things as opposed to basically plastic synthetics that don’t always, you can’t always get stains out, and you can’t always wash. And then, too, like, I think things that have, like, a slight variation to them, like some kind of speckle, or even velvet, how it kind of, like, changes as you touch it.

Elsie: Oh, I have some velvet notes. Velvet is tricky. This is just my opinion. Take it or leave it. So I think that velvet looks really good when it’s emulating an antique. So like when it’s tufted, it looks amazing. When it’s structured, it looks amazing. When it is on a modern sofa, I think that it ages badly fast. It’s hard for velvet to be sleek. Like, it’s almost always gonna be saggy at some point, so I think you have to find the right design that, like, hides that or looks good with that, and, like, I had one once that I had to return so fast. It was sort of modern-looking. I would never again with a modern velvet sofa.

Emma: To me, what’s one of the good things about velvet, I like how it feels too, but that it has this kind of variation in color to it, which I think works in your favor if you get a minor stain or just a little bit of wear and tear or a little bit of sagginess. It works in the favor, whereas something modern is meant to look perfect, all of a sudden I think velvet starts to look flawed immediately, which is not what you want.

Elsie: I like cleaning velvet. I think, like, seems pretty trendy, like green velvet or pink velvet. I’ve had both of those and I thought they both, like, look amazing in photos. It feels good, so I get why people are attracted to it, but it’s not as easy to clean or as forgiving over time, it is still synthetic fabric. So you just have to accept that. 

Emma: I have a lot of velvet curtains in my home. 

Elsie: And there’s a lot of historic furniture, like tufted, you know, like that are velvet and, or pretty much, and they are gorgeous. So I think that it can be really timeless. I think just be careful with the style. And also, I would go with a darker color, probably. I think this is the last one. Your favorite piece of furniture that you own. That’s kind like, kind of sentimental. 

Emma: Yeah. I’ve talked about a number of pieces that are, like, very durable, or they’re, like, more pricey, and I think they’ve been worth it. But as far as, like, if I had to just pick a favorite piece, I think I would have to go with this piano that’s, like, Trey’s family piano that we got from his parents. It’s just very sentimental. It’s like the piano that was in his home growing up and he also plays it all the time and then Oscar will play it with him. And we now have like a little children’s electric piano that sits next to it that Oscar will sometimes play when his dad plays piano. I don’t know, it’s just like a piece that fills our house with music, and it’s a piece from his childhood. It’s like an old upright. It’s not necessarily a woodgrain or a style that I naturally would have picked, but I feel like it fits in our home.

Elsie: If you want to send it over to my home, I think, just kidding. It is very beautiful.

Emma: I don’t know. It just fits me, even though it’s not like the exact style.

Elsie: It’s because you made it fit though. 

Emma: Yeah. I was like, this is like a sentimental piece and you know, it has art on it that I think makes it work in our space and blah, blah, blah. But I just like it, and I think I like that it fills our house with music. And my husband plays it and our son likes to kind of bang on it and like sit with his dad and play and it’s really cute. And yeah, it’s a special piece. 

Elsie: Our kids are in piano now and it’s the greatest thing ever. 

Emma: I know. I want to put him on the piano one day. But we’ll see if he wants to, but you know. 

Elsie: It’s a big commitment at first, I will say. It’s kind of, you’re lucky if you’re the parent who doesn’t know how to play piano because that makes you, not the practicing parent.

Emma: I know. I’m like, what do I do? Sit there with the metronome? I don’t know. 

Elsie: You won’t be the practicing parent. 

Emma: I’ll be the driving parent who drives them to the lesson. 

Elsie: That’s me. Okay. My favorite pieces that we own are somewhat custom. So first of all, this one fireplace, because I found it in the Facebook marketplace. It’s an antique. Someone brought it all the way from Arkansas in their truck to my home, which was like the greatest thing ever. Like, you know, that just doesn’t happen on Facebook marketplace.

Emma: We’re like two hours from Arkansas. 

Elsie: Yeah. I thought it was very generous. 

Emma: Oh yeah, no. Yeah. I’m just trying to tell people how far we are from Arkansas.

Elsie: Not as far as you would think. Yeah. And also I have a couple of custom fireplaces. So the one in our living room that if you look at my Instagram, you can’t miss it because I post about it like every day. And then there’s another one in our bedroom where I tried to emulate the fireplace from Rosemary’s Baby, it’s my favorite movie. You know, I did it as a comfort re-watch. I probably talked about it a lot in that episode, but it was actually really complicated, that one. It like, looks simple, but it has these like, beveled edges that were a whole thing. So anyway, and then we also did a custom kitchen island this last year, right before we moved in and it’s pretty much the only thing I like about my kitchen and I love it. I love it so much. It is very Nancy Meyers and we’re keeping it forever. The whole rest of the kitchen will eventually be gutted, except for the island will always be there. One more, we have one piece of furniture that we’ve had in every home since our first home. It’s actually in the basement right now, but it is a wicker chair, a hanging wicker chair. And I bought it from Amazon, which is so funny like it looks like the 70s one, but I think it’s new. We’ve hung it in every single home, and I think I’m going to use it in our pool house this time when we eventually build that and it’s sort of like sentimental because every other piece has changed and we’ve moved way too much but it’s like the one thing that endured so I feel like I have to keep it always no matter what. Okay, so now without further ado, it’s time for Joker Facts with Nova. Hey Nova, what do you have for us this week? 

Nova: I have a joke. 

Elsie: A joke. Okay, I’m ready. 

Nova: Why did Rudolph attend summer school? 

Elsie: Why? 

Nova: Because he wanted to go down in history. 

Elsie: Ah, that’s a good one. I love it. 

Nova: Thanks. 

Elsie: All right. Thank you so much for listening. You can submit questions anytime at podcast@abeautifulmess.com or you can call our voicemail. The number for that is 417-893-0011. We’ll be back next week with our spring bucket list episode and our book report on The Only One Left by Riley Sager.

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