5 Things Worth Investing In When You Move A Lot
Earlier this week, I shared with you all the 8 home items I don’t think are worth investing good money in if you move a lot. They are the items that now after 7 relocations, I have seen broken or sold off time and again because they just don’t have the staying power through move after move and house after house. But as much as I’ve learned what not to buy, I’ve also learned what to buy. Specifically, what items have staying power through hard moves and a variety of floor plans. The following items aren’t necessarily things we bought in the beginning and have survived all our moves. Rather, they are items that, had I known then what I know now, we could have bought way back then and ultimately saved ourselves a lot of time, headache and money setting up home after home. Here are the 5 things worth investing in when you move a lot!
MATCHING CURTAIN RODS
On Tuesday, I cautioned frequent movers about investing in curtains, but curtain rods are a different story! In our third apartment, we bought two nice black curtain rods from Lowes. When we moved into our fourth home, we needed more but I couldn’t find them. I ended up buying a bunch of the RACKA rods from IKEA because they somewhat matched the ones we already had, came in every length imaginable, and were super inexpensive. Fast forward through three more homes and we’ve now doubled our collection of these inexpensive rods and have hung them in pretty much every room in every house since.
Why? They are simple enough to work in every single room; they can be customized to pretty much any length so they will fit over any window; and I really like that we have consistent curtain rods throughout our home. (Boy does it make measuring for and installing rods easy when you’re dealing with the same hardware over and over!) In fact, I eventually got rid of the fancier curtain rods, and we now use the IKEA ones exclusively. Had we had the foresight to stock up on a bunch of the same curtain rods at the very start of our journey, we could have saved ourselves the headache and hassle (and cost!) of buying, using (and storing!) an assortment of curtain rods in our first few homes.
BATHROOM SOAP DISPENSERS AND TRASH CANS
This is one I just figured out recently and literally said to myself “I wish I had done this from the beginning!” Throughout the years as we moved from home to home, I would pick up soaps dispensers and trash cans for the bathrooms based on that bathroom’s decor. This meant that if I changed the bathroom scheme from reds to blues, our red soap dispenser no longer matched and I would feel the need to buy a new one. Or if we had one more bathroom than we had before, I would go pick out a new set that didn’t necessarily match what we already had. I was tired of having this random collection of soap dispensers and trash cans (and trying to make each one work in each home), so I finally went to Target and bought 5 matching soap dispensers and trash cans. They are sturdy, simple, and white so they should be able to work in every single home we have (I can’t imagine having more than 5 sinks in a home!) Now, there’s no more merry-go-soap dispenser when we move into a new home, and it’s just another consistent element that makes moving in and setting up new spaces a bit easier.
Cube shelves are something we have been able to make work in every single home. No matter how many we have, their dimensions, or what kind of quality they are, we have always been able to make them fit somewhere. Whether they are put in the backs of closets, up on top shelves to create high cubbies, along the sides of our garage, in our playroom, or (most recently) in our a huge, open foyer…they have been key for us carving out more space and staying more organized in each and every single home. In our experience, don’t bother stressing too much over having too many or certain sizes. We have always gotten them all to fit somewhere!
But I do have a disclaimer on this one! While incredibly versatile, functional, and sharp looking with a variety of decor styles, cube shelves do NOT move well. Movers never take them apart, so they often lose their stability during the transition because the shelf junctions just become loose from moving, shoving, and stacking on trucks. We’ve certainly had more sturdy ones than others (the IKEA Expedit and Kallax units tend to be more stable than other brands); but be prepared to have to reinforce them or place them against walls/in the backs of closets for added stability after they’ve been moved. And when they’ve been moved one too many times and are showing their wear, just replace them…because they really are worth buying over and over again!
We haven’t had a ton of experience with modular furniture (furniture that can be arranged in various ways), but we did have two separate pieces that, as intended, provided us a ton of flexibility as we moved from home to home. Early on, we bought a couch in four distinct pieces: two corner seats, a center seat, and an ottoman. Because these units hooked together in innumerable ways, we had the flexibility to shorten or lengthen the couch and even change where the ottoman attached based on the requirements of our room. We were able to make this very large couch unit work in two different homes because we could break it apart and re-work it as necessary. Honestly, the only reason we eventually got rid of it was not because it didn’t fit but rather because it was white. And as I outlined in my previous post, it just looked horrible after being moved the second time.
Our other modular piece of furniture is the desk that used to be my Kansas office and now sits behind our couch in the family room where it serves as part sofa table, part dining room buffet, and part Greg’s desk. This desk swings in both directions separate from the shelves…meaning it can be an L-shaped desk in either direction or a flat-front desk in either direction. Because of this flexibility, we are able to try innumerable configurations around the house in order to make it fit somewhere.
I share these two anecdotes to exemplify how useful it can be to have modular, flexible furniture when you move frequently. Being able to configure items into multiple arrangements allows you to fit it in a variety of spaces, which means you will likely be able to use it in home after home. While investing in high-quality items is always a gamble (they can still get damaged in transit), spending money on high-quality items that have inherent flexibility is usually a pretty safe bet!
WHITE ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPLIES
I am not shy about my
compulsion love for bins and baskets. I probably own more bins and baskets than anything else (even fabric!), and truly consider them the #1 thing that keeps our home tidy and pulled together. However, in recent months, I have found myself pulling away from the brightly colored bins and baskets (that I usually jump head over heels for) and am instead favoring white ones more and more. This actually has nothing to do with my current efforts to add more lightness and brightness to our home. Rather, I am learning that mixing and matching basket types and sizes…or even adding to a collection…becomes so much easier when they are all…white.
When you live in a “forever” home or even a “somewhat forever” home, you likely invest in a set of organizational systems and rarely need to change or update them. But when you move to a new house every 1-3 years, you are constantly faced with new pantries, closets, drawers and cabinets to organize. And almost always, the systems you used in the previous home don’t fit quite right in the new one. Trying to find matching turquoise or yellow (or whatever color) bins several years after you bought the original set can be quite the challenge. But adding in new white baskets to an existing all-white collection, even if they are different sizes/shapes/brands, will still result in a cohesive, streamlined display. By switching everything over to white, you’ll be more likely to use them all in house after house, rather than having to eventually ditch certain ones because you can’t find matching additions.
Little by little, I am swapping out (most of) my colored bins and baskets for white ones. Don’t think for a second I am giving up on color! By having all white systems, I can swap labels, cabinet backgrounds/shelf liner, wall color, and furniture color to give each display a fresh look in each house!
(On a similar note – I’ve learned the same holds true for bedspreads. You may notice that all our beds always have white coverlets on them, but the sheets, throw pillows and surrounding decor tend to change in each house. By keeping bedspreads white, I don’t have to find a new bedding set every time I want a new look. I can simply give the room a new design by swapping out other accessories!)
Please note that this list, as well as the one I shared earlier this week, are built on our personal experiences and lessons learned. While I was very happy to see some military spouses chime in and agree with my assessment earlier this week, I also know that each move and each family’s circumstances are different. I certainly don’t recommend never buying or only buying certain things just because you move a lot. But I do think it’s valuable to learn and remember that some things might indeed make it to the end of your military (or other career) journey; but there will certainly be others that you buy and sell off over and over. As we spend our hard-earned money to setup and decorate a home time and time again, we always try to consider how things will move and how versatile they might be in order to keep our spending and heartache to a minimum!
Just as before, I’d love for fellow frequent movers to chime in with their picks for good investment pieces. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the comments on the “Don’t Invest” post – there’s some great suggestions and things to consider if you find yourself moving a lot. And with that, I’m going to sign off for the week. Back here next week, we’ll be shifting gears to some fun “back-to-school” DIYs and organizational ideas! Have a great weekend!