Trading Up: Getting Rid of Hand-Me-Downs Bookmark and Share

As we get older and begin furnishing our own homes, it's common to inherit a few pieces of furniture from parents and friends. But sometimes we hold on to these items well past their due date. There's definitely a difference between keeping classic, well-made pieces of furniture that have been cared for, or holding on to run-down and out of style pieces that just bring the room down. Plus, as our lifestyles change, so do our tastes and needs in home furnishings. If you're ready to trade up and replace those worn-out hand-me-downs, here are a few tips to get you on your way.

Get inspired.
Take a fresh look at your room. What do you love about it? What would make it better? Are your sofa cushions flat and uncomfortable? Is the fabric worn and dirty? How about that old recliner? Is your old dining room table scuffed and scratched? Do your furnishings work well together or are they just a mish-mash of items thrown together by necessity? Envision the home you want, and be honest about what works and what doesn't.

Find your style.
Check out home decorating magazines, books, and websites. Save the photos of rooms of pieces of furniture that inspire you. Start analyzing your choices by making a list of your favorite colors, textures and patterns. Do you prefer bold colors or pastels? Solids, stripes or plaids? Soft, light fabric covers or rich tapestries? Light, medium or dark wood finishes?

The five most common furniture styles are casual, contemporary, traditional, country and an eclectic blend. Knowing which style you lean toward will help you focus in your shopping efforts and will help the salespeople assisting you as well.

Size up your space.
Measure the space you have available for the type of furniture you're looking for, and keep a list of those measurements handy while you're shopping. Also consider how you use the room and what type of furniture would work best. Do you need (and have space for) a sofa big enough for your entire family, or just you and your faithful four-legged friend? Do you have lots of entertainment equipment, CDs and DVDs that need storage space, or will a simple TV stand work best? Does your dining room need a large, rectangular table for frequent family get-togethers, or would a smaller table with a few coordinating pieces be a better solution for how you really use that room?

Set your budget.
Know what you are able to pay for a particular item before you get to the store so that you can buy the best-constructed piece of furniture within your price range. Don't be afraid to spend more for better quality! Just because you can buy a new sofa for $299 doesn't mean you will love it and that it will last very long. No matter what your budget, you can find good values and great style at any price.

Choose the things you really love.
Trust your own judgment, and buy what you like! Don't be afraid to be bold or different. Your home should be a place that you love and feel most comfortable in. It should be a reflection of your own style and personality, so enjoy the process and feel good about the things you purchase. We get excited when we find an outfit that fits us perfectly or when we're finally able to purchase something we've wanted for a long time - so why shouldn't you feel that way about the furnishings that you come in contact with every day?

Can't let go?
If you really can't bear to part with a hand-me-down piece of furniture, it's ok. By all means keep it if it holds sentimental value for you! However, do consider breathing new life into the piece by getting it reupholstered, re-finished, or redone with a new coat of paint or new cushions. Just because it's a hand-me-down doesn't mean you can't show off your own personality and style!