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The Design Pieces To Invest In – In Your 20s, 30s & 40s

Good design may be timeless, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a right (and wrong) time to invest in certain pieces for your home. Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, you’ll want to be purchasing items that make sense for your stage in life – and maximize your budget.

Knowing what – and when – to purchase for your home can make a big difference, and save you money in the long run. Whether it’s a mattress, coffee table, or light fixture, it’s all about determining what pieces have staying power (and which you should hold off on until putting down roots). And we’re telling you exactly what they are!


Keep scrolling to see the best items to invest in whatever your age, and how to plan your big purchases for three major decades of your life.


We’ve got even more ideas for improving your space! Check out The 5 Easy Home Fixes You Can Do Now (To Avoid Problems Later) and Re-Decorate For Free: How To Use Items You Already Have To Create A Whole New Look.


Your 20s are all about big life changes, whether that means graduating from college, starting a new job, moving to a new city, or moving in with a significant other. Amidst these changes, it’s wise to purchase pieces that are multi-functional and versatile enough to work in different spaces, as you may find yourself moving often. You’re probably still figuring out your design style too, so when purchasing larger items, stick to neutral colors and more classic shapes. (You can always accessorize and bring in personality with trendier pieces like pillows, art, and accessories.)


Here are the key pieces you should purchase in your 20s:


  • A Quality Mattress
    A good mattress is a must for ensuring a quality night’s sleep – and an investment in your personal well-being. Get a high-quality mattress now and you’ll be set for the next 10 years.


  • Furniture That’s Multi-Functional
    Invest in pieces that will work in multiple ways (and multiple spaces) like dining tables with drop leaves, modular shelving, and plug-in wall sconces that can be placed anywhere.


  • Bedding & Bath Basics
    Once you have that mattress, it’s time to outfit your bed. 2 sets of simple and soft sheets (in linen or 100 percent cotton) make a big difference, along with a duvet cover. And in the bathroom, opt for a couple pairs of plush bath towels that will stay soft for years to come.


Photo: Chad Mellon
Design: Lindye Galloway


Life in your 30s tends to be a bit more stable. You may be settled into a longer-term apartment or house, have children, and be ready to make bigger purchases for your space  And since you probably have a better idea of your design style (and what you like and don’t like), you can start investing in items that are more specific to your taste. Now is the time to focus on larger furniture pieces that will last, and making your home a more personal reflection of you.


Here are the pieces you should purchase in your 30s:


  • A Sturdy and Stylish Sofa
    It’s time to take the plunge and purchase a sofa that will be the centerpiece of your living room or den. Stick to a neutral fabric and a classic design to ensure your sofa will work in any space you’re in.


  • Timeless Outdoor Furniture
    If you have an outdoor space, now’s the time to outfit it with dining and lounge furniture that will take you from season to season in style.


  • A Better Bed
    Invest in a bed or headboard that you love, and you’ll sleep easy knowing you’ve made a purchase that will last you a lifetime. And even if you change your mind, you can always re-upholster or re-finish down the road. You can also invest in new beds that your kids can grow into as they get older.
Design: Studio McGee


By the time you’re in your 40s, you’ve probably settled down into a stable routine, and don’t have to worry so much about making a move or big changes. Now is the time to invest in pieces that are personal and are a true reflection of your style. You can also opt for more customized options that are made specifically for your space, and upgrade your existing appliances.


Here are the pieces you should purchase in your 40s:


  • Original Art & Framing
    Purchase original works of art, or upgrade your existing pieces by having them custom framed. You can choose the exact style and materials to make the piece truly shine, and be a unique addition to your space. You can also frame special momentos or things you’ve collected over time to add a personal touch.


  • Customize & Update
    Whether it’s a one of a kind coffee table, built-in storage, or a new light fixture, customize your space if you’re planning to stay put for the long term. Or simply update existing items with pieces that you love.


  • Rugs
    While you may have been worried about spills and choosing options that are kid-friendly, now is the time to shop rugs that are just right – and are made to last.


  1. What is a good sectional for a small space that is pet friendly?

    1. This is a great option that will hide pet hair and be durable. Thanks for your comment Michelle! xx -B

  2. Can you reccomend where I can find an affordable trendy coffee table that can take a lot of wear and tear?

    1. The most durable material for a coffee table is going to be stone, concrete or hardwood. I like this acacia wood option with simple lines, or this minimal square cement option. Thanks for y our comment! xx -B

      1. Hi Bobby!

        This was a great article. I am in my early 40s and working on redoing our bedroom. I love how a lot of designs create a calm comfortable atmosphere but I want my bedroom to be a little sensual as well. How do I accomplish that without making the room look tacky? Also, should I be using the bed itself as my focal point or focus more on the bedding? Thanks in advance for all the wonderful things you do! Love you.

        1. I like to treat the bed and the bedding as one element, and it should definitely be the focal point in the room. As for adding some sensuality, I think you can best achieve that with color, lighting, and art. Consider adding dimmable LED bulbs to set the mood, and bringing in more sensual colors and artwork. Thanks so much for your comment. xx -B

  3. Bobby, I really need help, I don’t know how to take advantage of the space under the stairs, I want to put a TV and some shelves.

    1. It’s a great idea to take advantage of the space under the stairs. You could do built-in shelves, or a premade TV stand with storage. Check out this guide for some inspiration. Thanks for reading! xx -B