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Wedding season ushers in new couples excited for a fresh start, but just as it takes time to build family rhythms and culture, layering a home also happens over time. Lindley Martens, interior designer and curator of the Memphis interiors boutique Laurel Rd. Antiques and Modern, has years of experience in guiding clients toward creating the home of their dreams. Here, she offers advice to newlyweds on items worth splurging on — and three areas in which you can easily save as you start your life together.

Where to Splurge

An Antique Chest

“I like having a mix of new and old in any home,” says Lindley. She highlights an antique chest as one of the first pieces in which a young couple should consider investing. “Most antique furniture was built to last many lifetimes. A well-constructed chest with good bones can move with the couple as their family and home evolves. It has so much versatility in the home, and it can be used in an entryway, living room, or as a side table in your bedroom,” she notes. It’s also a great out-of-the-way place to store stationery, wrapping paper, holiday items, candlesticks, and linens. A well-chosen antique chest is an example of a piece that exhibits real craftsmanship and will be something a couple can keep forever, and then offer to future generations.

Where to Splurge on home decor: an antique chest
An antique chest makes a stunning addition to your decor scheme, but it can also offer out-of-the-way storage for items like paper goods, seasonal decor, linens, you name it. Image: Julie Wage Ross

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“I always recommend investing in a piece of artwork that the couple really loves,” Lindley shares. “Not only does this immediately infuse their new family personality into the space, but it will also be a sweet reminder of this special time when they created their first home together.”

A dramatic piece of art can go a long way in a home, no matter the size. When the couple chooses it together, they become invested in it, and the art itself becomes a touchstone for them throughout life. “I usually recommend that couples purchase one piece of art per year for the first few years of marriage. Work it into your budget,” she says. When clients are on a slim budget, Lindley recommends looking for art at estate sales and art school sales. Often the students selling art are incredibly talented, and the art is well-priced. It’s a great place to find wonderfully unique pieces.

Stone statue in front of a colorful painting
Choosing unique new art pieces together is a great way for couples to mark touchstones in the first few years of marriage. Image: Lindley Martens

A Pair of Chairs

“I’m not sure how many chairs I have recovered over the years for my clients, but I know there have been a great number,” Lindley says. “If you invest in high-quality chairs now that are comfortable and smart-looking with good lines, they can stay with you for the long haul and last generations. They can also migrate around the house from a living room to a master bedroom to a family room.”

She points out that you might either invest in a sofa or a pair of chairs, but doing both at the same time could break the bank for young couples. Because sofa configurations often need to change when a family moves to a new home, she leans toward investing in chairs with lovely profiles and great comfort. “Often a pair of chairs are positioned in such a way that you are walking into a room approaching the side view. You want them to have a pretty profile so they will be an asset from all angles,” she says.

Where to Save

Dining Room Table & Chairs

For most of us, our first home will not be our last home, so newly married couples are advised to hold off on investing in a lifelong dining table and chairs. Instead, consider shopping estate sales, auctions, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace for oldies with nice lines, or going for some new, yet well-designed items from places like Ikea or Crate and Barrel. “It’s good for a couple starting out to consider waiting until they are in a long-term home to invest in an expensive dining table. When they do take the plunge, they will want to make sure it expands so it can grow with their family over time,” says Lindley. Until then, try shopping these budget-friendly options for a find. And recovering seat cushions in dining chairs is a fantastic way to make them feel more updated.

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“Mixing old and new is a great start when selecting accessories for a home,” Lindley explains. “Keep things simple and don’t overdo it! Seek out items that will bring you delight.” Start with a few special treasures from local boutiques, of which there are many in Memphis. When you are registering, consider what might do double-duty. For instance, pottery will serve a utilitarian purpose, but it will also look fabulous as a table accessory. Use those wedding gifts around the house to fill empty spaces. You’ll enjoy the gift more and feel grateful for the giver too!

Where to save on home decor: accessories
Smaller design accessories are easy to find at a lower price point. Filling in empty spaces around the house with small, complementary pieces will make your decor feel more pulled together. Image: Lindley Martens


White bedding with some interesting throw pillows is a great fit for any bedroom. If you’re on a budget, Target and Pottery Barn are great places to shop for those items so that you can invest in other areas. But if you have a little financial wiggle room, splurge for quality linens like those you’ll find at Lisa Mallory Interior Design or other local linen stores. If you can’t afford a proper headboard yet, use three Euro shams across the bed, flanked by bedside tables with lamps, to make the bedroom feel finished and lovely.

Master bedroom with white bedding and green accent pillow
White bedding makes a great blank canvas for any bedroom. Image: Liz Dean Photography

Lindley understands that it can be very overwhelming to figure out where to start when two people are building a home together. Beyond her main tips and tricks, she happily offers a few other thoughts that should encourage newly married couples as they are just starting out:

  • Educate your eye. Spend time together looking at images on Pinterest to determine what you like and don’t like. Pull ideas from many different places and know your preferences. This will help as you are making choices on what to purchase and what to skip.
  • Don’t let a bargain cause you to lose sight of your real preferences. Sometimes, people will buy things they don’t actually love because the price is right. That’s never a good idea.
  • Keep at least two plants (live ones, if possible) in every room. There is something nurturing about caring for plants in your home, and it brings life to each space.
  • Don’t turn down hand-me-downs. Family heirlooms are a great way to bring character into a new home. Even if it’s not your favorite piece of furniture, consider Grandma’s chest a placeholder until you get the buffet you are really pining for.

There are many interesting challenges when two people come together to build a home. Creating a space that reflects their love for one another should be one that is both fun and fascinating.


See stunning homes from across the South in our archives.

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About the Author
Candace Echols

Candace Echols is a writer and author. She and her husband Jim enjoy raising their five children and their Mini-Bernedoodle Rookie.