Identify your personal style
Is it casual, contemporary, country, traditional or eclectic? If you're unsure, look at the items around you to see how they reflect your personality--your wardrobe, your car, your magazines, favorite movies, etc.
Examine your preferences
Make a list of your favorite colors, textures and patterns. Do you prefer bold colors or pastels? Solids, stripes or plaids? Soft, light fabric covers or rich tapestries? Lighter fruitwoods or darker hardwoods?
Consider your lifestyle
Do you plan to have a family or do you already have children? Do you have pets? Are you planning to move soon? These factors may affect the features of the furniture you buy today.
Prioritize your purchases
Decide which items of furniture you want or need most, and buy those first. Then build around them. You don't have to furnish the whole house at once. Are key spaces empty? Are certain pieces worn or in need of replacement? Have you been yearning for a particular item?
Determine your budget
No matter how much or how little you want to spend, you can find good values that suit your style in any price category.
Budget your time to suit your shopping style
Do you enjoy doing lots of research and browsing or are you an on-the-spot buyer? Shopping for furniture can be as easy or involved as you want it to be. You can choose a sofa in an hour for same-day delivery or special-order a custom-designed piece.
Explore available resources
Look to home programs, books, magazines, catalogs, websites and furniture show rooms to provide inspiration. Keep a scrapbook of furniture styles you like.
Take advantage of free services
Many furniture stores offer such benefits as interior-design consulting, room-planning guides, product brochures, etc.
Trust your own judgment
Buy what you like, and don't be afraid to be bold or different. Remember: No one knows what you want better than you do.
Have fun and enjoy the process
Furnishing your home to express your personal style can be one of life's greatest and most enduring pleasures.