First dorm? Empty-nesters? How to find furniture that’s just right, based on where you are in life

Inspiration, perhaps? (Photo provided by Badcock Home Furniture)

When it comes to the space you call home, it makes sense that you’ll have different needs at different times in your life.

We don’t all need a huge dining room set at the age of 22.

So, where do you start? Where do you turn? How do you know what to buy, and when?

Well, for starters, take a deep breath.

Wherever you are in this moment, there are people and stores who can help you figure out what would work best in your current living situation. Whether you need to add flair to your first dorm room or you’re just starting out as a young adult in a new city and a new apartment, there’s a lot to think about. Kristen Schipfer-Barrett, the digital media and communications manager for Badcock Home Furniture, helped provide the following guide.

Let’s say you’re ...

Moving into a dorm room

Dorms often come with big furniture pieces, but these rooms might not have everything a student will need.

If you’re looking to make the space yours, try an accent chair in a fun color or look for something like a statement piece -- maybe a small table.

“You’ll probably want to make your dorm a more beautiful and stylish space -- and make it feel like home,” Schipfer-Barrett said.

You’d be surprised how much the little touches could make a world of difference: adding color to your linen set, or adding throw pillows into the mix. These pieces can get thrown in, or integrated, and they won’t take away from the fact that this is still a dorm room.

Out on your own as an adult for the first time

This is an exciting moment.

First and foremost, you’ll want to determine what your space can fit. The most important step is measuring, Schipfer-Barrett said. If you don’t measure your space, you won’t know what will work.

So get out your tape measure before you head online or hit the stores.

“If you’re on your own, you may not need a huge sectional, but you should look for comfortable pieces like a sofa for movie binging, having friends over (maybe not now, but someday!), for entertaining purposes -- and be sure to bring your style into play,” Schipfer-Barrett said.

And if you haven’t done it already, nail down what your style might entail.

As for how exactly to do that, Schipfer-Barrett recommended following Pinterest boards, stores and brands’ Pinterest pages or maybe creating a mood board first. Ask yourself: What are you going for? Do you want dark wood or glam? What kinds of fabrics are you drawn to? Aim for functional and stylish.

You might not need a huge dining set; just a little table with four chairs. That way, if you’re entertaining, you have seating options, but it’s not overwhelming -- it’ll work for just you or you and a partner or roommate.

Moving in with ‘the one’

This marks a time in which you have a few more things to consider. But again, how fun!

Some people will start thinking about the potential for family, right around now.

Not everyone opts to have children or does it right away, but if the potential is there, it’s something to keep in the back of your mind, Schipfer-Barrett said.

And you’ll have in-laws, either now or soon.

That means more people could be coming over (again, maybe post-pandemic!), so perhaps it’s time to start re-think that dining set.

A dining room set. (Photo provided by Badcock Home Furniture)

Should you purchase a larger dining table with bench seating or storage? What about china for hosting nice meals? Perhaps a side-server or more furniture pieces that will offer storage? This might be the time to invest in a sectional, as well, so when people come over, everyone has a comfortable seat.

“Whether you’re binging a season of a TV show or watching a movie, everyone wants that best seat in the house,” Schipfer-Barrett said. “A sectional can make that happen.”

Final thought: Think about your bedroom.

“It should be an oasis for the two of you,” Schipfer-Barrett said. “Is there a dresser for you and for your partner? You’ll want to make sure everyone has their own space. That’s important -- otherwise, it can get contentious. Look for enough drawers, and storage space under the bed. You’ve combined your things, so you’ll need to be able to store the extras. Make sure everything matches both of your styles.”

Don’t feel like you have to start from scratch. You can build upon pieces you already have. A small table that already exists in one area of the house might get your wheels turning and spark an idea for a room refresher.

What a cool bedroom idea. (Photo provided by Badcock Home Furniture)

Starting a family

If you opt to have children, you might want to reevaluate your home’s needs.

Maybe you’ve been preparing for this chapter, in some ways, but now you can officially start thinking about what your kids’ rooms will look like.

Children’s furniture can mean built-in desks, stair beds with storage, bunks, space for when they’ll eventually have friends over; the sky is the limits.

“It’s not just race car beds,” Schipfer-Barrett said with a laugh.

Will you want to do a glamorous room for a little girl? How about an extra play area? There are a ton of style options, so it might be fun to browse and check out the latest trends.

Downsizing or entering the ‘empty nest’ stage

This is a time for prioritizing your new style. What does it look like for you, without kids?

“Maybe you can get nicer furniture, and you don’t have to worry about people jumping off the back or drawing on it,” Schipfer-Barrett said. “You can go more high-end, you can have a nice big glass coffee table -- it opens up different options.”

Still, don’t jump to get rid of your big table with the extending pieces on the ends.

Your kids might still come home for Thanksgiving, or eventually settle down and have their own families. You’ll likely still be hosting family from time to time, especially if your adult children stay in the area.

“But let’s say you have more time to travel. You might (pick up something on your adventures) and ask yourself, ‘Can we incorporate this into a room?’” Schipfer-Barrett said. “It’s a new opportunity to redefine your style based on who you are, now.

And for some general advice, no matter where you are in the stages of life or in the throes of home projects, Schipfer-Barrett said many people are simply trying to make things more “homey.”

“This comes down to comfort -- no matter the style,” she said. “If you have a fantastic looking couch you can’t bear to sit on, that’s not homey. Do you have an art sculpture for a chair? (That belongs in) a museum. Start by bringing in comfortable and cozy pieces -- that’s a big aspect of home. Bring warmth into your space. You can do that with a combined effort of comfortable pieces and nice lighting, which is key to creating warmth and ambiance.”

Think of properly placed lamps and accent tables; items that will help bring that feeling of home. Aroma factors into the equation, as well. Make sure your space smells like you want it to, perhaps by using a diffuser blend or candles.

“Throws, throw pillows ... anything that brings comfort to you and your family,” Schipfer-Barrett said.

For more information on Badcock Home Furniture, click or tap here.