THE BLOG

Decorating Your Home at Any Age, Stage or Place

08/12/2013 02:14 pm ET

It wasn't that long ago that people bought their first home in their 20s. Today, it's far later, in our 30s, and even 40s. We rent more, and for longer lengths of time, before we settle into our permanent residence. By the time this happens, it's likely that most adults today will have lived in two, three or more apartments or other rentals.

Adding to this, more people are moving about the country, for jobs, opportunities, different needs. 'Home' may be in one place for years and years, only to change later to another part of the city, country or world. We are more mobile than ever, and certainly, where we lay our heads and call home reflects it.

So, how can we create a sense of home given this? A few tips:

1. Recognize the age and stage you are at. There is no right or wrong time, or set period in life, that you have to settle into your permanent residence. This is regardless of age -- today we might not know where our permanent city is until far later in life, let alone buy a permanent home there. By understanding where you are at in the timeline, you can better assess what types of things you should, or shouldn't buy, to make wherever you are feel like its your place.

2. Put off your investment furniture/decor until you are settled somewhere for a long length. It's normal to assume that as an adult, you need to invest in furniture right away. But, even the best, highest quality furniture isn't designed to endure being carted around, and in some cases, moving it (such as across the country) all together. There's nothing more heartbreaking to see than your gorgeous headboard suffering a non-negotiable scrape because it won't fit through the angles of your new rental building. If you think you'll get the price you paid for your beautiful dresser you bought last year when resold, you likely won't. Hold off on your investment furniture given this.

3. Decorate with the details. A great home is rarely about the furniture alone, so put your emphasis there. Decor items such as Flor removable floor squares, or a couch cover from someone like Sure-fit, can do wonders with making your space feel like it's home, and are far easier to move (or part ways with) should you need to change location.

4. Run lean. Style is rarely about a lot of items or anything that's expensive, and this includes in the home as well. You don't need an elaborate setup or pieces, or much of them, to make your home feel cozy and comfortable. Base what you buy by need. If you rarely spend time in the bedroom, get the basics and put your emphasis on your living room. This goes the same for kitchen items. If you rarely cook at home, now is not the time to buy the 24 piece cookware set. Get the items you need, and will use, for now instead.

The good news is, there are plenty of retailers today that cater to the non-home owner, apartment dweller, etc. The obvious that come to mind might be Ikea, or Target, for relatively inexpensive 'starter' furniture you won't feel too bad about, should you need to leave it behind or resell it. But plenty of others, including Apt2b.com, Home Goods and Zara Home can put pretty furnishings that feel like 'you' into a space without breaking your heart if something happens to it. There are also a growing number of chic house and home resale sites that give options beyond CraigsList or resale stores and yard sales.

To see more of this week's edition of Condiment magazine, or to check out more home tips and products, visit here.