• Armchair. People tend to feel very personal about their armchairs.
“For him, it might be the place where he watches the game. For her, it might be the one part of the house where she has her chair, which is kind of her escape from being on duty [or] being a mom — not that she’s ever off duty,” Oglesby says.
Durable and forgiving fabrics: corduroy, hefty linen, velvet (whether it’s cotton or mohair) linen, wool.
Buying tip: Pay attention to size and scale. Once you see something you like, “come back to the house and measure those things out in their space,” Knollenberg says. “It’s not uncommon to go shopping for furniture today and come back and realize that the sofa they love is a Buick. It’s great on the floor, it looks great in the mall, but it’s not going to fit in my house. … Nothing looks worse than furniture that’s too big in your room.”
• A conversation piece. “You need something that’s different, something that’s fun,” Olk says.
Whether it’s a colorful chest in the living room or a piece of artwork you find personally important, you need something to give your house some soul.
“It’s nice to not see page 42 of the West Elm [catalog] in everyone’s house. It’s nice to make it your own. Bring in something personal,” Knollenberg says. “Maybe it was a chair your grandfather had or a table your mom liked. Don’t be afraid to pepper that in. Whether it’s Neiman Marcus or the … flea market, it doesn’t matter.”
Buying tip: “You’re going to expect to spend some money on your primary upholstered pieces,” Knollenberg says. “But if you’re up for the search to fill in around those pieces with things that are new, old, found, collected, whatever they might be, your dollar signs don’t keep accruing.”