Question: I just bought my first place, and I am wondering if I should paint first while the house is empty. It seems like a hassle to buy furniture and then paint. What are your thoughts?

Answer: This is a great question. It is definitely easier to paint an empty room. However, I liken this situation to buying shoes and then searching for the perfect outfit to match the shoes. You will save yourself a lot of time and angst by selecting furniture before you paint. A painted empty room looks very different from a furnished room with painted walls. Balancing the color in a room can be very challenging, so choose your colors carefully. Painting a furnished room is a hassle, but re-painting a furnished room is a costly hassle.

If you have doubts or want to speed up the process, consider hiring a designer to assist you with your paint and fabric selections.

Question: I've had my sectional for 12 years. I paid really good money for it and it is still in great shape. Should I have it recovered or just buy a new one?

Answer: The furniture industry has changed a lot in recent years. If you have a quality piece of furniture, you should definitely hold on to it. Chances are what you currently have is much better than a lot of the new pieces. Recovering an average sectional (and updating the cushions) with a reasonable fabric is a small investment, but well worth it for another 12 years of use.

• Maria Bailey Benson is owner of Nyla Simone Home, a local full-service showroom offering design services, furniture, artwork and accessories. Reach her at (480) 422-6178 or

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