With every season comes a desire to refresh one’s space and pare down belongings that feel past their prime. “Most of us, when furnishing our first apartment, find ourselves with an assortment of family hand-me-downs and cheap pieces,” designer Kira Obermeier reflects. “When we're a little older and have saved up to finally decorate our home the way we’d like, it's easy to think about tossing everything and beginning with a fresh slate.”
But, before parting with a piece of furniture or décor for good, it’s worthwhile to spend some time evaluating its versatility and future potential, among other factors. Of course, it’s always tempting to pass over well-loved pieces in favor of something brand new, but you’ll never want to regret letting an item go prematurely.
We spoke with top designers to gather their insight on what to consider before waving goodbye to that old chair, table, or accent piece.
Can It be Placed Elsewhere?
“When a piece of furniture or accessory is on the chopping block, I have a checklist I implement first. Could the piece live in another room? Might the item function differently? Does it bring you joy? Oftentimes, moving an item from one room to another can breathe new life into the room and make you fall in love with it all over again. Perhaps a small chest of drawers can become a nightstand, or a smaller rug from one room can be layered on top of a larger rug in another. If the art, accessory, or furniture sparks joy, you will find the use for it. After trying all three items on my list, I feel comfortable parting ways with the piece and trust that someone else will put it to good use.” — Meg McSherry
Can the Piece be Revived?
“Sometimes, you can work miracles reviving a piece that seems like a goner. Wood tones can be altered, a new marble top can be added, drawers can be rehabilitated, and you can fall in love again. Be honest with yourself regarding the cost and time involved in a rescue mission. And comfort is vital. If a sofa or chair isn't comfortable, give yourself permission to replace it.” —Courtney Bates
“Before you drag grandma’s coffee table to the curb, consider whether it could work in your new scheme. Repurposing furniture can be an affordable and environmentally friendly option when considering pieces for your home. Consider refinishing or painting a piece to give it new life.” —Kira Obermeier
Is It Too Costly to Alter?
“When debating on replacing versus refreshing a piece of furniture, it is good to do a little research. For example, if something needs to be reupholstered or re-stained, compare what the cost would be to getting a new piece. The cost to refurbish some pieces is often more than people expect, so it’s good to compare both options.” —Tracy Morris
Is There Sentimental Value or a Unique Element?
“Vintage, imported, and handmade things are deserving of careful consideration. One of my projects featured a craftsman bed that my client’s grandfather built by hand. It worked beautifully in their guest house, adding an interesting contrast to their more modern choices.” —Courtney Bates
“I once gave away a pair of antique lamps and I always regretted it. I always recommend holding on to vintage, antique, or one-of-a-kind pieces. These are pieces that you likely won’t come across again and often have great stories attached to them. The same goes for sentimental pieces, those more meaningful pieces are always great to have a spot for in your home.” —Tracy Morris
Is it Full of Personality?
“As a designer, it can be tempting to make every project look like a perfect showroom, but including unusual pieces with a story behind them always adds character and warmth to a home.” —Courtney Bates
Will it Add Sophistication to Your Space?
“The most refined rooms layer in different styles. So, even if you've always hated Aunt Susie's mid-century modern floor lamp because your style is more traditional, try pairing it with a more traditional sofa before you part with it completely. You’d be surprised how changing one piece can suddenly make you appreciate pieces you thought you didn't like.” —Kira Obermeier