It starts when you’re young: You get your first apartment, and you begin buying furniture ― maybe your first couch and a table set. As you get older and move around, you accumulate more to fill in extra space ― a couple armchairs, end tables, bookshelves, and dressers. Then, you have kids that need their own sets, and your parents keep offering you furniture hand-me-downs, and all the while you buy new pieces because you like the style ― and before you know it, every room in your home is jam-packed with furniture.
One of the first rules of good interior design is knowing how much furniture will look good in a room. Unfortunately, this skill doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you suspect your home is overfilled with furniture, this guide will teach you how to diagnose your trouble and the proper treatment to achieve beautiful and functional interior design.
Signs of Excessive Furniture
You might describe your living space as “homey,” but an interior designer will probably prefer the words “cluttered” and “chaotic” if your home has you doing any of the following.
You have to turn sideways to move around. Sliding through spaces and shimmying around corners is for airplanes, not homes. If at any point during your trip from one end of the house to the other you have to turn, squeeze, crawl, or leap, then you definitely have too much furniture. Paths and hallways throughout your home should be clear and easy for anyone to traverse, including people with disabilities or mobility trouble. Otherwise, giving guests directions to your bathroom might require a map and a hiking stick.
You can’t open drawers and cupboards. If you haven’t worn three-quarters of your wardrobe in a year because you can’t get to it, you might have too much furniture. Drawers and doors require some space to open and close properly, and jam-packed rooms often prevent you from reaching the items at the back or bottom because drawers and doors cannot open fully. There is no point to having furniture with drawers and cupboards if you can’t use them to their full extent.
You don’t have a consistent theme. One of your couches is patterned with little pink flowers, another one is covered in shiny black leather, and a third is violently chartreuse. Your first problem is you don’t need that many couches in one space; your second problem is none of them adhere to a single style. Mismatched furniture is unappealing to the eye. Even if your home is large, your rooms can look overfilled with furniture if your pieces don’t go together aesthetically.
Remedies to Your Furniture Predicament
Fortunately, excessive furniture isn’t terminal. Here are three strategies that should reduce the cramped look of your home and increase your interior style faster than it takes to get over a cold.
You should cut clutter. You might assume you need more furniture because your home is constantly cluttered. Busy families often don’t have time to tidy and clean, resulting in disorganized rooms that don’t make efficient use of the space or unused furniture being tossed into the garage with everything else.
You should devote a weekend to sifting through the garage and every room and selling, donating, or throwing away anything you don’t want or need. You might find that in addition to that college couch preventing your car from being in the garage, you also have boxes of books you haven’t read in decades or an old boat you haven’t taken out on the water in years. The books and boat can be donated to a multitude of organizations, while freeing up space, both inside and out. The newly freed room in the garage could hold that extra La-Z-Boy you aren’t ready to part with just yet, even if you never sit in it.
You can rethink storage solutions. Once you have whittled down your belongings, you can take a hard look at how you can organize them better in the future. For example, instead of tall, broad bookshelves, you can store your books and belongings on floating shelves, which feel lighter and provide more floor space. You should tackle organization in your closets as well, using catch-all baskets to corral loose items like shoes, belts, and scarves. If you are more economical with your storage solutions, you don’t need as much furniture to hide all your stuff.
You need to make a design plan. One reason you keep buying new furniture could be that you aren’t satisfied with your home’s current style. Perhaps the best solution is to start from scratch. Using an interior design tool, you can map your home and experiment with different layouts. Then, you should procure pieces of furniture that will fit in your layout and adhere to your favorite decorating style. When you have a plan in place, you are less likely to impulse buy and clutter your house.