Engagement is a time for couples to plan. Every detail of the upcoming nuptials must be decided, from selecting caterers and vendors to pinpointing the perfect honeymoon destination. But in the midst of all the excitement, brides- and grooms-to-be often fail to plan for what will come after the wedding ceremony – the scenery of their new life together. The Voice-Tribune sought out Lifestyle Designer Barry Wooley, the president and chief creative designer of Barry Wooley Designs, to shed some light on what newlyweds and the newly-engaged should know about decorating – and sharing – their home.
– Sophie Hottinger, Staff Writer, The Voice-Tribune
1. Invest in a high-quality bed. Newlyweds, especially younger couples, often have limited funds for new furnishings, so it’s important to spend first on items that will impact physical comfort, mood and overall quality of life. “If you get a good night’s sleep and you’re comfortable, then that’s a place to spend good money,” advises Barry.
2. Don’t settle for a too-small sofa. Like your bed, it will be a place you’ll probably spend a fair amount of time, so it’s worth the extra investment. Wooley suggests a simple test to see if your potential purchase measures up: see if both you and your partner can lay on the sofa at the same time. He explains, “It not only looks better and gives you more space to entertain, and for you two to be comfortable more often; but more importantly, it also just builds a relationship.”
3. Begin with a timeless look as you start to furnish your home. Focus on finding classic pieces that will have real staying power. As decorating trends and your personal style evolve over the years, you will be able to switch out modern and trendy accessories while those core pieces continue to look great and complement your other decor.
4. Before you shop, create a space plan. Take inventory of what you already have, eliminate duplicate pieces, take a look at the remaining living space and discuss how you want to use it. “That way you’re not buying things that you don’t need,” Wooley points out.
5. Prioritize. If you can’t purchase everything you hope to have now, take care of the essentials first – and consider your gift registry a resource. “I’ve been to weddings where people registered for 18 pieces of their china, and each is $200,” cautions Barry. “So all their china gets filled up – $3,600 – but they still don’t have a bed to sleep on! That doesn’t make any sense. Register for the stuff you need first, and then your luxury picks that you might promote later on in the process.”
6. Communicate and collaborate. Sit down and have a conversation about what you want out of your home – you might find that you have very different ideas about what’s necessary! “Figure out each other’s style and marry the two by mixing and matching,” Wooley recommends. If you have trouble envisioning one another’s style, websites like Pinterest are a great way to gather images that represent your taste, then take a look at them together. As long as both partners have input, it will feel like home to both of you, he explains. “It’s all about compromise.”
7. Create wish lists at local retailers for items that fit your needs but not your budget. Include a note card with your gift registry information to let wedding guests know that these additional shops have your wish list on file, even if they don’t offer a traditional registry. The beauty of the wish list is that it requires no occasion – so even after your wedding, friends and family members searching for holiday or birthday gifts have a ready resource, and can continue to help you furnish your home.
8. Don’t be shy – ask if family heirlooms are available! Says Barry, “I often work with parents who are trying to give their furniture away to their kids, but often the kids don’t want their parents’ furniture. But I think … if there’s something that they like at their grandparents’ house, that they like at their mom and dad’s house, they should just ask for it now, because that could be a great staple. It might seem a little presumptuous, but the truth is, I think that often a parent or a grandparent, or an aunt and uncle, might appreciate that – you know, these kids like something that I have, so much so that they might ask for it.”
9. Get inspired! It’s important to be creative and work with what you have. If your budget is limited, reuse existing furniture pieces and give them a new look by adding a cheap gallon of paint or new fabric. Thrift store shop to find unique pieces at a great price. If you rent and aren’t able to change some aspects of your home – say, wall color or light fixtures – find a way around the problem. Hang fabric on walls, or pull together hodge-podge with a unifying rug. “You can get large posters and artwork and things that will definitely define your space,” Wooley suggests, “and then do lots of ambient lighting through lamps and spotlights.”
10. Relax and take your time – try to remember that this is your home. It doesn’t have to look perfect right away, and the process of putting it all together can actually be a great exercise in getting to know one another better, shares Barry. And try to keep some perspective, he urges. “I have to tell people all the time, ‘It’s not a tattoo, it’s just a can of paint.’ It’s not anything permanent. So especially when you’re young, have fun with it!”
Barry Wooley Designs, located at 835 E. Main St., is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information call 502.569.7101 or visit www.barrywooley.com.