With age comes (ideally) wisdom, and often times getting older means understanding yourself better in terms of what your likes are, what habits are healthy, and what things in your life are worth your energy. And while that can certainly apply to factors like your relationships and your career, it also probably includes your aesthetic preferences, like your design interests. For example, your home decor essentials might shift during different decades, and when you arrive at your 40s, you might find that some pieces are worth investing in to create a space that feels mature, confident, and reflective of who you are in that season of life.
Just like entering your 40s might mean switching up your skincare products or your makeup routine to suit your evolving needs and tastes, the same goes for decorating your home. Many women find that by this time in their life, they've grown out of furniture and decorative accessories they bought to follow a trend, and instead are interested in more timeless and luxurious pieces. "Longevity wasn’t so much a factor when I was younger," explains Tiffany Howell, interior decorator and stylist for Night Palm Studio. "Also, I didn’t spend as much time at home. Now I want my home to be my sanctuary and want to invest in pieces that are both sexy and functional."
And while creating your own such space might include allowing yourself a bigger budget to spend, some of the essential pieces for the modern woman in her 40s aren't necessarily going to break the bank, either. Rather than it being about getting more costly things, designers like Howell argue that revamping your home at this stage in your life is more so about seeking out the things that allow you to feel comfortable and chic while providing lasting function — and that can be found at a range of prices.
Ahead, follow a handful of designers' advice for the decor essentials you might want to invest in by your 40s — including their tips for art, textiles, and lighting, and more to both splurge and save on.
"I once read an article that said the average person spends one third of their life sleeping, so by all means, invest in some luxury bedding," offers Kate Lester of Kate Lester Interiors. "Fabulous bedding is like my little mini-reward to myself for making it through a rough day, and makes every bedtime feel like a getaway at a luxury hotel."
And Howell recommends paying attention to thread counts to ensure a soft feeling, as well as considering trying some stylish colors. "I love the look and feel of Parachute bedding," she says. "Also, Flaneur bedding custom dyes sheets in the most beautiful colors."
"While I firmly believe that every home should have a collection of art that includes reproductions and flea market finds, by 40, every woman should have at least one original or limited edition piece of art," says Lester. "Find a piece that speaks to you and invest in it. I tend to gravitate toward pieces by young or emerging artists — not only are the pieces interesting and slightly less expensive, the artists are often personally communicating with you during the purchase and you get to learn a little more about them and their craft!" Curated sites like Tappan Collective specialize in offering up-and-coming artists for prices well below the $500 mark.
Dining Table & Dinnerware
"Whether it’s for having people over or just at home with family for dinner, I feel like a good table can become the heartbeat of the house," says Howell who adds that what you put on your table is equally important for woman in their 40s who want to create a chic and useful space. "Nice dinnerware and glassware is where you can inject some personality into your house and set a mood for entertaining," she explains. "It can completely elevate your dining experience even if it's a casual breakfast. I invested in handmade ceramic coffee mugs for my morning coffee and it's become part of my morning ritual. It feels slightly decadent."
"For lighting I am drawn to sculptural bodies that act like a stand alone art piece," explains Howell. "It's really important to illuminate the area and give the colors in your space — and you — a great glow. Right now I am using a lot of lantern-style lighting to create more of a romantic mood in my house. One of my favorites are the Formakami pendants."
"By this time in your life, it’s common for people to have spent thousands on temporary sofas that may have been more affordable and practical for different stages of your life, but were never going to last more than a few years," says Kristin Gunnette, Senior Designer at Atelier K. "George Smith offers some amazing and customizable pieces that I love."
"Women in their 40s should invest in a classic dresser to store their most beloved clothing," says Maureen Stevens of Maureen Stevens Design. "Mine has a vintage look and when I first purchased it, I knew I would love it for a very long time because the style (part Neoclassic, part glam, part Art Deco) so perfectly reflects me. This dresser has been with me through four different houses and is a special piece I know I’ll have forever."