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How to Shop Thoughtfully

Wild shopping sprees are fun in the moment, but your home can only accommodate
so many of your purchases. We'll show you how to shop for your home with purpose.

For those of you who know the pleasure and pain of shopping, you know it can take years of training to become a seasoned shopping athlete. But while we all love the vintage find or the brand-name bargain, indiscriminate shopping can get you into a mountain of trouble, and not just with your credit card provider.

Most shoppers are remarkably good at accumulating stuff they don't need. From impulse buys to overbuying staples “just in case,” being thoughtless about our purchases adds up not just financially, but as clutter and noise in our homes. So how do we invoke a more mindful approach?

For many, a truly successful buy is something that you use every day; something that improves your life and that makes you smile whenever you see or use it.

True pros go into every shopping situation with a game plan. If you stick to a set of rules that works for you, you'll soon see your shopping wins stack up against your shopping losses.

Plan One Space at a Time

Many shoppers, when out shopping for something they need, see something that spins the brain in a completely different direction. Stores and shopping centers are designed to entice and entrance...and distract. While there might be attractive items out there, putting mental blinders on will help you keep your shopping trip successful and on track. Stay focused on what you came for.

Make a list if that helps, and only visit stores that provide what you need. And shop only for the project at hand. It can be tough, but the end result of a completed project is infinitely more satisfying than having three or four half-done stacks of things and supplies clogging up your home.

Set Boundaries + Do Your Homework

Setting boundaries can be the toughest thing to do. But while you can always make excuses for the most amazing this or that, sticking to your guns will work best in the long run. Whether it's price, size or material, there should be some ground rules in your head of what you are shopping for. That antique armchair might be truly amazing; but if it won't fit in the corner of the , it just won't fit.

A critical part of setting boundaries is doing your homework. If it's furniture you need, measure the space and take notes. Bad at imagining? Shoot some photos of the space you are shopping for so you can quickly reference them while at the store. Have the facts, and don't let your mind play tricks on you.

And don't settle for almost right. Keep hunting until you find what you need at the price that works for you.

Stay On Brand

This can be tough for those with a passion for design. If your home is casual , but you also love rococo gilding, your look can quickly become unmanageably eccentric. A cohesive and edited space is the most relaxing, easy to live in and update.

But this doesn't mean you are limited exclusively to one style, color palette or vibe. Just think about acquiring art and objects in terms of your overall aesthetic. Will you really display a Nagel poster alongside your Scandinavian botanical prints? Remember, you don't have to own something to appreciate it.

Know What You Have

When shopping for a project, part of doing your homework is knowing what you already have. This is especially critical if you have recently moved, have things stashed away during a remodel or happen to have boxes full of stuff in storage.

If you don't know exactly what's in those boxes, it's time to go through them. Shop your own stash first to make sure you don't just keep buying the same things over and over again. You'll might be surprised by what you already own.

Be Skeptical of Size

This might seem like a negative, but bringing out your inner shopping critic is, you guessed it, critical. If you go off half-cocked and forget your measurements, don't just assume something is going to fit. That rug may be gorgeous and high quality, but those things are irrelevant if its proportions are wrong and it becomes wall-to-wall carpeting.

Don't always rely on return policies, either. While many stores have liberal return policies, you can't always count on yourself to get it back in time. It's best to avoid the returns counter altogether. Go back to your homework. If you aren't sure about how something will feel in a room, a quick mockup can help tremendously. Before you buy, mark the dimensions of your future purchase out on the wall or floor using a piece of cardboard or some removable tape to get a real idea of the size of that item in your space.

Your next shopping trip can go much more smoothly with our tips in mind: Be smart, be savvy and be happy with what you have. Adding meaningful pieces with a mindful approach will enhance your shopping prowess and your home's overall aesthetic and, importantly, its feel.