5 Things to Ask Yourself Before You Buy Anything New for Your Home

published Jul 30, 2015
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(Image credit: Nasozi Kakembo)

Shopping for just the right thing for your home can be a bit of a rush. You’ve searched for so long, and now, at long last, you’ve found it. Your skin is tingly. You hear the faint sound of angel choirs. But wait! Before you buy anything (be it online, at the flea market, at a garage sale, or at a just plain old store), ask yourself these five questions.

Will it fit?
In shopping, as in relationships, we sometimes like to think that love is all you need. But just because you’ve never seen anything more beautiful than that antique armoire doesn’t mean you actually have anywhere to put it. Be honest with yourself: is there really room for/a need for this thing in your home?

Does it work with the other things I own?
I have been obsessed with the shuffle table for a very long time now. It’s colorful, it’s delightfully strange, it’s more like a toy than actual furniture. It also doesn’t match anything else I own, which is why I don’t have one. It’s been tough, abstaining from the shuffle table, but I know that if I bought one I would basically have to redecorate my entire apartment around it, which really isn’t realistic. Unless you hate everything else you own and are planning to replace it anyway, don’t buy something that doesn’t fit into your current decor. You won’t be happy with it, and it isn’t a good buy.

Can I afford it?
Home decor isn’t worth going into debt or not being able to pay your electric bill or eating ramen for the rest of the month. (Ok, mayyybe it’s worth eating ramen for the rest of the month. But only if it’s something really great.) I know you may think you totally love this thing and it is completely one of a kind and you’ll never get over it… but something else will come along.

Am I paying long term money for a short term buy?
Besides considering whether something works with your current decor, it’s also worth thinking about whether it’s a good fit with your long range plan for your home. Some things, things that are beautiful and classic and that you know you’ll have for a long time, are worth investing in. But other times it’s ok to skimp a little. As a person with very particular taste, I want everything I own to be perfect. But I also recognize that some things aren’t worth spending a lot of money on, like, say, a rug for a bedroom in an apartment I know I’ll only live in for one year. Be realistic.

Why am I really buying this?
At the risk of sounding too shrink-y, I included this in the list, because I think that (especially if you’re an impulsive person like myself) shopping can have a lot to do with your mental state. Sometimes you wind up shopping because you’re unsatisfied with some other area of your life, or just craving something new. Ask yourself whether your urge to buy is about the rush you get from finding and procuring interesting things — or whether the thing you’re considering is something that will truly improve your home.