If anything signals "I need an adult apartment," it's a wedding. But swapping a futon for an Eames can put a dent in the nest egg before it even hatches.
Adding a few key pieces to your home, however, can instantly exude interior design mojo. Lee Cavanaugh, design partner at New York-based design firm Cullman & Kravis, shares her thoughts on the five home items newlyweds won't regret purchasing. And many times, it doesn't take a lot of cash to look luxe.
A dining table is one of the most functional items in any home, but it can serve as a design showpiece too. Look for tables crafted from long-lasting materials, such as mahogany or walnut, and avoid veneers that ruin quickly with wear. Mix and match the dining room chairs to give it a modern aesthetic or choose a colored glass top for a trendy look. These simple additions can be changed over time as you move homes or redecorate, but you'll never need to buy another table. If you're big on entertaining, look for a table with a leaf to expand your dinner party real estate.
Like a dining table, a couch is essential to any home. Cavanaugh recommends purchasing a standard seven-foot, two-inch sofa with a solid wood frame. Think comfortable and usable, with classic lines. With this base, she says, you can re-upholster or refill the cushions, but the skeleton will last for years. As for fabrics, decide what feels good to you, but always check samples in your space first. Lighting makes a big difference for colors and the effect on the room.
From place mats to bedding, quality linens quickly upgrade any home. A table runner and napkin rings dress up a dining table before a friendly meal, and nothing beats hotel-ready sheets at turndown every evening. For the bedroom, look for crisp, white linens with custom embroidery and a pop of color for a youthful, modern look. As for that thread count? Cavanaugh says higher is not necessarily better: "It's all about what feels good to you."
Choosing china is really quite simple. There is not much difference between brands in terms of quality, according to Cavanaugh, so it's more about what pattern speaks to you as a couple. Go to a department store and see what jumps out. Even if you have an heirloom set from grandma, you can choose a more casual pattern to call your own. For a modern look, mix in bright colors or contrasting patterns. For a more formal look, add a charger plate to a gold- or silver-rimmed classic white.
An art collection does not need to consist of Picassos and Pollocks. For the average person, art is less about investment and more about what you want to look at every day. Make a hallway gallery of family photos set in matching frames or peruse flea markets or galleries for original pieces by local artists. One of Cavanaugh's favorite projects is a collection of animal photographs from a couple's safari honeymoon scattered around their living room. "It's so much more personal than walking into a place with blank walls."