When we got married we had very little, and it was weird to see our hand-me-down/thrift furnishings mixed with brand new wedding gifts. What was good enough for college didn’t seem so nice anymore.
Doug and I didn’t like each other’s stuff as we tried to combine it all. My old couch was older than me, but it held my memories of sitting on it while watching Family Ties and the Cosby show, feeling sick with chicken pox, and making forts with the cushions. Doug thought it was too small, and it was. We got rid of that one and kept his couch which had been in someone’s garage before he owned it. It was shabby, not shabby-chic. I think we kept it a year before we decided that having no couch at all was better than owning that one; it was dreadful.
Doug’s twenty-year-old washing machine ate a hole in my brand new white sheets the first week.
The really nice thing we had was a soft new mattress and bedding, plus new kitchen stuff that wouldn’t fit into our tiny rental kitchen.
That first year we were married, we paid off all our debt. We went gung-ho about it, not stopping to buy a throw pillow or a lamp, but I did buy $21 worth of curtains. It was a couple of years into our marriage before we added nicer furniture and decorations, and we did so a little at a time. Anyone can buy a room full of matching furniture all at once down to the matching lamps, but I don’t think that would have solved anything for us.
It takes time to develop the lived-in character of a home that feels comfortable and suits both people.
Yes, we put up with an ugly couch, but that was temporary. Paying off debt soon in our marriage had a deep impact, and it set the standard for how we make our decisions. By waiting we realized something more important…we don’t really want a house full of furniture after all. I’m not sure what we want, exactly. We’re still deciding. But I could care less about granite countertops.
The last thing I want new couples to be saddled with are big monthly payments for new cars and furniture. Don’t limit your options that way, especially if your cash is limited from buying a home. It’s much easier to add extras later if you want them.