Unique paint colors can give your place character
Purple, green, and turquoise? Well that sure breaks the whole “go neutral!” rule. Did anyone even notice Monica’s apartment was painted in these colors (Joey did, but not until the last episode of the show, when all the furniture and décor had been moved out).
And that’s the thing about paint. It can be sedate or it can be a standout, but it’s not permanent. So if it turns out to be too bright, too bold, too clashy, or if you just get tired of it in one year or 10, pick another shade and start over.
Merging is hard
Whether it was Phoebe and Mike’s aborted attempt to move in together the first time or trying to figure out where to put Chandler’s beloved recliner when he moved in with Monica, Friends reminded us of what we already knew: merging two people’s stuff into one space is challenging. Like everything else in a relationship, it’s about compromise. And establishing rules. And, sometimes, holding your ground and demanding that ugly, old, falling-apart chair hit the curb instead of the family room. Get more tips on blending households here.
Don’t choose the “pick-up” option when buying large pieces of furniture
Have a giant truck, a first-floor living room with extra-wide doors, a new couch, and a few good friends willing to haul it for a slice of pizza? Great! You may not need to pay (or wait) for delivery. For everyone else – Pivot! It’s just not worth it to try to defy the laws of nature and gravity getting it through the door, down the hall, up the stairs, down another hall, and around all those corners into the space – not to mention all those traffic laws you’re breaking, seatbelt-free and hanging on to the couch that wants to slide out the back of the too-small SUV on the highway driving home from Rooms to Go.
Counter space is your friend
You may be all, “How you doin’?” when you find what you think is the perfect place, only to realize, “OH. MY. GOD.” when living there reveals a few shortcomings.
Falling in love with the way a space feels and forgetting to focus on how it really works (or doesn’t) isn’t uncommon. How did professional chef Monica do all that cooking with almost no countertops? It’s something to consider if you’re looking for a new home. A kitchen that looks updated and is nicely staged may steal your focus away from the lack of amenities it offers.
If you’re already in a spot that has insufficient counter space and you’re not looking to renovate, a kitchen table like Monica has can come in handy, as can a mobile island.
It’s OK to have a game table instead of a dining room table
Many new homes today are being built without a formal dining room – a response to the increasingly more casual living style of current generations. But if you have one and don’t see yourself ever using it, go ahead and get that pool table. (If you can’t get on board with that decision because you might host Thanksgiving – someday – here’s your solution: the dining room table/pool table combo.)
Or, do what Joey and Chandler did. Ditch the sit-down table and go for foosball. Could that BE any more fun?
Everyone would really rather sit at the kitchen counter, anyway. Right?
Add a conversation piece or two
Whether it’s Phoebe’s scary art, “Gladys,” or Joey’s giant white dog, Friends was filled with oddball items that made for great TV fodder, but also provide a good life lesson: It’s OK to throw in something a little unusual or unexpected. It’ll make for a great conversation piece and will also make you smile.
You don’t need the latest and greatest of everything
Monica’s retro fridge was on the small side – probably not sufficient for a working chef, especially one that was also regularly feeding her neighbors. But it was cute and brought flair to the kitchen, which is a good thing to remember when designing or redesigning your house. The refrigerator may not be the place to forgo the latest technology, but don’t be afraid to add in a piece of two that prioritize form over function.
Showcase what you love
Although Ross’ last apartment was not as prominently displayed as Monica’s, its design says a lot about its resident, with a rich color palette and displays and artifacts supporting his interests.
It also provides a good lesson in editing. While this look is lived-in and also reflects the lifestyle of new parents (notice the “Emma” blanket on the chair and the changing table in the hallway), the haphazard placement of some of the décor items and, especially, the lack of styling on the bookcases, shows how quickly and easily a place can go from looking worldly and “collected” to looking like a mess.
It’s OK to shop at Pottery Barn
In “The One with the Apothecary Table,” Phoebe famously freaks out when she learns the table Rachel bought was not a flea market find, and was, in fact, from Pottery Barn—which Phoebe despises because of their mass-market production. We’re on board with the sentiment; It’s lovely to be able to have pieces with real history attached. But here’s the thing: a well-designed home doesn’t have to feature only unique or one-of-a-kind items. In fact, if everything is found, second-hand, or otherwise collected, your place may start to veer past eclectic and into garage sale land. It’s OK to use some more traditionally manufactured pieces to ground the space and then place your “finds” around them.
Fun side note to this episode, per Hooked on Houses: “When asked about the product placement in the episode, Peter Roth of Warner Bros. said it ‘offset the high cost of production.’ It was a good deal for Pottery Barn, too. A rep reports that ‘The phones still light up every time that episode airs.'”
If you’ve got a TV and a lawn chair (and a canoe?), you’ve got it all
Well, not really. But Joey and Chandler made it work after their apartment was burglarized by the guy who expressed interest in purchasing their massive entertainment center (and after Joey climbed into it and was locked inside). The point is, you may think you need stuff covering every inch of everything, but the truth is that minimalism might actually be a better option. Not only is it said to be good for your psyche and the environment, but it’s also in style! Plus, if you choose to go all Ugly Naked Guy in your place, you’re less likely to hurt yourself by bumping into something in a crowded room.