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Question: We’re renting a house while deciding whether to rebuild our home or live elsewhere in ...

Updated: Feb 11

the future. We lost it in the Napa fires. In the meantime, we’re renting furniture which is expensive to do (and uncomfortable). Can you guide us in starting over when buying new furniture?


(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)


My heart goes out to you and I’ve given this some extra thought. Since you don’t know the sizes or configurations of rooms in your future home, keep a few things in mind:


When it comes to upholstery, don’t invest in a sectional. It’ll take up a lot of space and, at this point, you don’t know how much you will have. Sectionals are also often times L-shaped or have a chaise. The direction of the L or the chaise may work in your rental but not in your new space. Choose a standard size sofa, and only opt for a matching loveseat if you’re okay with possibly donating it when you move.


Think about a swivel or a matching pair of swivel chairs. They are not only comforting as you sit and gently sway, but they also allow you to shift your focus on a whim. I just put two in a couple’s family room. These clients can easily face each other or their television, fireplace, or guests sitting in their family room or adjacent kitchen and dining room. Swivel chairs should transition nicely to your new home.


Purchase good quality upholstery. Inexpensive pieces are still costly enough to hurt when you have to toss them after five years of wear and tear. Quality will last years and be more comfortable to boot. When it comes to accent tables, try places like Home Goods, Pier 1, Cost Plus, and consignment stores unless, of course, you know what you’ll want for years to come. If you find a beautiful rug that you can build on, buy it. Otherwise, sisal and seagrass rugs are inexpensive and work with any decor.


I recommend investing in good bed linens for two reasons. They will definitely work in your new home, and, quality sleep is important, especially during this transition. Treat yourself, pamper yourself. I’ve been ordering linens from Bella Notte for two decades. They come in beautiful, soft colors in easy-care, garment-dyed, velvet, linen and chenille. And, they can be gently cleaned in your own washer and dryer. You can order online or in person at Sonoma Country Antiques or The Corner Store in Sonoma. Bella Notte comes at a hefty price but is worth it if you can swing it. A lower priced option is 100% cotton mattelasse coverlets and shams through The Country Store and Linen Source catalogs. These linens can also be home-washed and dried. I also can’t recommend fleece sheets enough! They are scrumptiously soft and warm without making you hot.

Each time you make a purchase, think of its future. If it’s a keeper, make sure you love the color, fabric, shape, etc. and that it’s a standard size. If not a keeper, ask yourself if it will serve your current needs without over-spending.

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