Furniture needs for every stage of your life

woman sitting on long couch in sunlit room reading a book

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted July 28, 2021

White rugs are stylish in your trendy apartment, but with kids and shedding dogs in a suburban home? Not so much. 

Whether you’re flying solo or raising six kids on your own, our need for simple items like beds, couches, and appliances doesn’t change – but the type and style certainly does. A study into consumers' buying habits found they generally buy furniture based on three ‘life stages’ – Gen Y (and now Z), who are just moving out and looking for furniture that is affordable and trendy; Gen X, who are looking for furniture that balances with family and monetary needs and constraints, and Boomers, who as growing ‘empty nesters,’ have more income and space to focus on luxury furnishings.

For 2021, we have focused on groups going through similar life stages: the first share house stage, the building the family home stage, and the individual/other stage, which can refer to those styling their first apartment to empty nesters excited for a revamp of luxury finishings. 

So, while sitting on milk crates out the back may have been trendy in your share house in your 20s, it might not be the vibe you are looking to bring into your marital home. From couches to coffee machines, we look at how the stage you are at can affect the furniture you bring into your home throughout your life. 

Furniture musts for your share house, family house and own home

The couch

The mainstay of the home and where many of us spent a large portion of 2020. Whether being used strictly for TV viewing, relaxing, or as your makeshift home office, the couch takes many forms depending on the stage of life you’re in:

Share house: This couch will most likely see things, so when it comes to specific considerations, you’re probably going to be opting for affordability and function over aesthetics. If this is your first share house experience, your couch will most likely be something you inherit (whether it be from a family or friend or a hard rubbish day). This, of course, doesn’t mean that you must suffer in the style stakes – pillows, throws, rugs, and mismatched armchairs (items easily sourced at op shops) can elevate the long-suffering share house couch into a stylish addition to your lounge room.

Family: At the family stage, you may want to consider who will be using this focal piece of furniture and how it blends with your home. Think function meets design. For example, young kids may spill, and pets may shed, so you may want to look for something durable, like leather or a textured fabric, to weather the storms that only a happy yet chaotic family can bring.

Individual or other: Lucky you, you can do what you like! Whether it’s just you or perhaps sharing with a partner or parent, the design world really is your oyster. Without thinking about the mess other household members may bring, you may want to concentrate on fabrics and looks you like – perhaps a mulberry velvet sofa, a boucle armchair or even a laz-e-boy with a fridge inside – it’s up to you and you alone!

couch with coloured pillos and a woolen rug on a wooden floor

Rug choices largely depend on who in the house will be using it.

The rug

Share house: You bought a rug? Fancy! No, in all seriousness, at this stage, you are looking for affordability and durability for a home that is shared by many, that may have frequent guests and perhaps even animals. You may want something that goes with a multitude of styles that suit the home's collective nature, is easy to clean, and is cheap enough that there aren’t arguments over who gets to keep it when you all move on.

Family: Step away from the white and pastels. There is going to be dirt, food scraps, muddy footsteps and crumbs galore, and so at this stage, you’re best to get something that is vacuum-friendly. Look for carpet fabric over textured rugs, those with a flatter surface and preferably darker colour, so you’re not running for the steam cleaner’s phone number every five minutes.

Individual or other: Here is where you may wish to play around with comfort and design. Depending on your own unique style, plush is king, and you may want to consider a rug made with quality materials, a bold print such as geometric, or the simplicity of a white or grey rug to match the (hopefully) calmer ethos of your abode.  

The bed

Share house: You’ll be looking for a bed that suits your house needs and personality. This may be a double bed that fits in the room you’ve chosen or been given, or a funky four-poster queen to hang fairy lights and plants from the top. Whatever your circumstances, this stage is all about finding the most accommodating place to rest your head without sacrificing your sleep.

Family: You may want to consider a larger bed to accommodate the inevitable interruptions in sleep from little people and animals (if they’re allowed in!) Having a decent sized, comfortable mattress is needed at a stage when you want to appreciate the little sleep you can get.

Individual or other: Once you have your own place, it is time to think seriously about your sleep. You spend a third of your life on your mattress, so make sure it is a comfortable one. This is the stage where you can allow yourself to splash out on a quality mattress (you can even get mattresses that are individually tailored to your needs and exact body shape) and bedding for the perfect night of slumber. 

modern bedroom with black headboard and chair and bedside table on woolen rug

Splashing out on a good mattress is paramount for a quality night's sleep. Image: Getty. 

The appliances

Share house: At this stage, you should be looking for appliances that work. You can grab many items for cheap or even for free on online marketplaces, and you’re looking for items that the whole household can use. Think larger fridges, a big TV for a communal area (or one for your room), or cheaper small items like toasters and kettles where everyone can split the cost.

Family: It’s time to start investing in good appliances that improve your quality of living and save you time. Items like a bigger fridge, a dishwasher, and a cordless vacuum (with warranties) can save you mountains of time and money in the long run when looking after a busy household.  

Individual or other: Like in family homes, some upgraded or luxury appliances can be a real time-saver when it comes to taking care of your home. At this stage, you may also want to look at items such as coffee machines and soda streams, which can seem expensive at the time but save a lot in the long run, particularly when working from home.

The storage

Share house: In the share house stage, less is more, which anyone who has moved more than once knows to be true. Usually, the space you get is relegated to your room, so it is wise to be ruthless when it comes to items that need to be stored. This may require some airtight containers on a high shelf, use of a communal area in exchange for offering to mop, or pleading with your parents to let you keep your stuff at their place, in your old bedroom, which they converted into a home gym the day you left.

Family: At this stage, it’s likely your home is overflowing with goods you need but don’t need right now. Think swimming toys, camping equipment, baby car seats, those weights you said you would use but are gathering dust. At this stage in your life, it’s best to have a dedicated area for storage, whether it is a garage, shed, or organised shelves and cabinets inside the home. Or, if space is a premium, renting out a storage unit.

Individual or other: When you have your own place, at this stage in your life, you should become acquainted with good, clean, organised storage. In an apartment, this may be the use of a cage down below, or in a bigger home, inside cabinetry or neatly organised in an attic or linen cupboard.

man sitting at desk on the phone with child standing on back of chair leaning over him

At least he has a designated working space? Image: Getty. 

The home office

Share house: At this stage, your bedroom probably doubles as your home office, or if you’re lucky, you have a set up in the communal space. You’re looking at an easily transferable desk and computer set up that can either be put in your room, or moved into another area to create a sense of division between sleep and work.

Family: At this point in your life, it’s optimal to have a home office room. However, if you (like the majority) have space constraints, it would be great to have a designated workstation. This may be under the stairs, at the kitchen table in an unmoveable ‘desk zone’, or just a dedicated workspace featuring a desk, computer, comfortable working chair and footrest to keep those physical and mental home-working pains at bay.

Individual or other: You should have a designated work zone in your home, whether this is a set-up room or an area you have carved out in your home featuring the above items of furniture. If a room, consider designing this as a proper home office, with a large desk, bookcase, and hey, you may even wish to throw in an old-fashioned bar – it’s your office, after all.

So whatever stage of life you are in, take care to get yourself furniture to suit the needs of you and those around you - and make sure to keep the dog off the white velvet couch.