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5 Things to Know About Moving From a City Apartment to a Home in the Suburbs

Moving from a small space to a larger one—and subsequently having to fill that big new house—is not a new design conundrum. But in the last year, as more people moved from city apartments to houses in the suburbs, we saw an uptick in clients struggling with filling out their new, larger homes.

The reality is, when you go from apartment living to being a homeowner, there tends to be a big gap between the amount of furniture you have and what you actually need to fill your new home.

Case in point: After moving from the city to the suburbs, our client, Michelle, had tons of extra space and not nearly enough furniture. She was overwhelmed—but her Modsy designer was able to help her transform her sparse space into a dream home.

But it’s not just that you have more space to fill. So many people make the move from small city apartments to full-sized homes and realize their furniture no longer works.

When Marybeth, another Modsy client, moved from a modern apartment in the city to a 1931 Tudor in the suburbs, her IKEA furniture that had felt at-home in her former apartment no longer suited her space. Seeing new furniture in her 3D designs gave her confidence when buying new furniture.

Since upsizing is becoming a surprisingly common design struggle, we turned to our expert designers and asked them to share how they help clients feel at home in their new spaces. Here are 5 common design dilemmas that arise when moving from the city to the suburbs and our best tips on how to address them!

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1. Do Consider The Size, Scale, and Purpose of Your Furniture

We’ve written a lot about how to save space in a small apartment and what furniture works best in tiny spaces. A lot of that comes down to opting for apartment-sized furniture. But here’s the thing: in a full-sized home, smaller, apartment-scale pieces simply won’t look good. That petite console you had in your apartment living room? It will look dwarfed in your new space. And a loveseat definitely can’t be your main seating option in your new living room. It might seem obvious, but apartment-sized furniture is designed to work in smaller spaces. So, these pieces will look disproportionately small in your new space. You have to rethink the functional scale and proportion of your furniture in your new, larger home.

Having more space to feel also means moving away from multipurpose furniture to single-use pieces. Your dining table no longer has to double as your desk. And that bench you used in your entryway/living room/bedroom in your old apartment. It can happily live in one room and serve a single purpose.

And since you have more space for storage, you can start thinking differently about all of those clever storage ideas you put to use in a small apartment. Maybe it’s time to move on from your storage coffee table and transition your storage to a separate cabinet.

Don’t be afraid to spread out, re-organize your storage, and create new organizational systems throughout your home that work for your current space.

Designer Tip: Since you’ll most likely be looking for at least a couple new pieces for your new home, might we direct you to our furniture buying guides? Our catalog of buying guides walks you through the process of selecting all the main pieces you might need—from sofas and dining tables to rugs and coffee tables!

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2. Do Consider The Style of Your Home’s Architecture

This isn’t always the case—but more often than not, your new home will have a different style of architecture than your previous apartment. You may have moved from a turn-of-the-century brownstone apartment to a new build in the suburbs. Or maybe you went from a city highrise to a mid-century rambler. The era in which a house was built, and the style it was built in—craftsman, Spanish revival, Tudor, Victorian, new build—has an impact on how you approach the design. Translation? Your new space won’t necessarily agree with that mid-century-inspired IKEA sofa.

And beyond the style, in a full house versus an apartment, you’ll have other architectural details to contend with. You’ll most certainly have more windows. This is almost always a good thing—who doesn’t love added natural light? But this also means choosing the right curtains for your home.

And then there are your home’s materials. If you have wood flooring, it likely has a different finish than your old place. Or maybe you’re dealing with carpeting, tiles, or even different flooring in each room! Chances are the hardware and fixtures will also be different finishes. All of this means your existing furniture and decor will interact differently with these new materials than they did with the materials of your previous apartment. Sometimes it will work, and other times you’ll realize that what worked before simply no longer suits the details of your new home.

So, what can you do? Find furniture, decor, and color schemes that work with your personal style and the style of your home. For example, craftsman homes tend to have lots of warm wood features—so perhaps a rustic design style with lots of natural textures and neutral upholstery is the move for you! In a brand new home and looking to add some character? Check out our new build home decor tips.

And if you need help in this process, know that Modsy designers can guide you through the whole process!

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3. Do Enjoy Spreading Out

When you live in a small apartment, efficiency is a top priority. When you have a whole house where you can spread out? Not so much. Your new space is defined by possibilities rather than limitations since you have so much more space to work with.

Similar to moving away from multipurpose furniture, you can generally stop striving to create multipurpose rooms. You no longer have to have a living room/dining room/home office combo. Rather, each space in your home can likely have an individual function. Or, within a larger space, you can create distinct zones so that each area has a unique function.

So, start by defining the functions of each room in your new home, asking yourself how you want to use the space. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll most certainly need some new furniture. But more than that, it’s an opportunity to really consider how you want to use your space and to embrace more breathing room in your home. Celebrate the open space you now have and get creative with how to use each room in your home!

Want to see this in action? When Britt, a Modsy client, moved her family and business across the country, she was determined to make the transition as smooth as possible. But an awkward shared living room/office area presented a major challenge. Her Modsy designer helped her create two distinct zones in her large-but-narrow space—and it’s now a space her whole family enjoys.

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4. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Bigger Changes (But Have a Good Plan)

In a home of your own, you’re no longer confined to the rules of renting, with a landlord to answer to and a security deposit to worry about. So, nail that art to the wall! Repaint your bedroom! Add the wallpaper you always wanted!

Owning your own home means you can expand the scope of what’s possible in your decorating process. So, take some time to put your personal stamp on your new home. This could be as simple as a new coat of paint—which can completely change the look and feel of a room—or updating hardware throughout your home. But it can also mean taking on a larger project like tearing down a wall, redoing your kitchen, installing built-ins, or updating your flooring. How great is it that, if you’re itching to rip out the carpet and install hardwood floors, you can do it?!

Designer Tip: Before you jump full speed into demo day, good to have a plan. Need some help? Our expert renovation designers can help you visualize your remodel or structural changes in your home in 3D before you even pick up a sledgehammer.

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5. Don’t Rush the Process

Ok, we know we just said that you can now officially make bigger changes to your home. But that being said, we’d also encourage you not to rush the process (with renovations or home design). Buying a new house provides an exciting opportunity to create a space that’s uniquely you. But too many new homeowners—in a desire to quickly settle in and make their home look “finished”—rush out and fill their home with furniture that they may not love after a year.

Rather than rushing the process, spend some time in thoughtful reflection on what your home really needs. Since you just purchased a home, money might be tight. So, start by deciding what you need now, in terms of furniture and decor, and what you can save for and purchase later. If you can, time your major purchases with big tentpole sales in the furniture industry. Wondering when those major sales are? Check out our year-round furniture shopping guide.

If you’re not sure where to start with furniture-buying, think about the pieces of furniture you use every day—AKA, your bed and sofa. Prioritize these pieces. Things like rugs and decor can come later. (Check out our new home furniture buying guide for more tips!) Worried about your house not feeling livable in the meantime? You don’t have to start from scratch. Use the pieces you already have to start and swap them out as you figure out your decor style!

Of course, some people really do just want to get their home set and settled right away. If you’re going that route, rely on the help of an expert designer to help you create a thoughtfully curated space! Bonus: when you start a design project with Modsy, you’ll also get huge, exclusive discounts on furniture purchased through Modsy any time of the year! Expert design help and mega discounts? Now that’s a no-brainer.

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