When you first buy a home or plan to redecorate, the major purchase and investment in your home decor is the furniture. So how do you end up with coordinating, stylish furniture rather than your parent's cast-offs and your husband's ugly chair from his bachelor days? It seems like you spend half your decorating efforts fitting those pieces into your room rather than concentrating on the overall decorating plan. You need to be prepared to turn down the freebies and spend the money on things that will suit your style and home.
Choose Your Battles
It's one thing to insist that the ratty recliner get thrown out with the bulk trash, but it's another story when it's his family's heirloom Victorian sofa. You may need to compromise on some pieces. If the Victorian sofa is really horrible, but means the world to him, consider getting it reupholstered. Marriage is all about compromise, and if you compromise on this issue, you can use it against him in the next battle.
Just Say No
Well-meaning parents and grandparents will stick you with any ugly furniture they can. It's a fact of life. They're not being nice and trying to help you out, they just want it out of their house. Just say no, offer to help them dispose of it properly - a consignment house or auction house may be an option. Once it comes in your house, you're stuck with it!
Patience is a Virtue
When you decorate your home or plan a redecorating project, the first thing you want to do is run out and buy furniture. Don't do it! You'll end up settling for what's available and what you can afford, and that's not always the way to go. Take your time, plan out each room and decide what you need right away (couches, beds, dressers, etc.). If you accept castoffs to fill your space, make sure they're just temporary.
Make it Work
If you are decorating on a budget and need to accept the freebies and live with your dorm room leftovers, deal with it. You can make it work. Furniture can be painted, reupholstered, and refinished until it's unrecognizable. Get creative - if that ugly old couch is ruining the family room, buy a slipcover for it. If you can't stand that heavy, traditional dining room table that was in your mother's dining room before she bought the condo, lighten it up with a bright, cheerful tablecloth.
You can furnish your house or perform a budget makeover without spending a fortune. The key is planning, creativity, standing your ground when you have to and compromising when you don't.