Interior Design for Living: Flexibility is the key in furniture for people who move frequently

By SUSAN GILL SPELLMEYER

Q: My husband and I are just starting out. He's employed by a large company and we expect to be transferred fairly frequently. We need to purchase furniture but don't know what to buy since we don't know where we'll be living. Can you offer any suggestions?

A: Not knowing where you'll be living makes the selection of furni­ture so much more difficult. You don't know the space you'll be dealing with and can't make a floor plan, as one would normally do when one is fairly certain of being in one place for awhile. With a floor plan you know exactly what you'll need be­fore you begin to make selections, but in this case it is obviously impos­sible.

With this in mind, the key word of advice is flexibility. Everything you buy should be light in scale and not too large,

You will, perhaps, be renting for awhile. Often apartment rooms are rather small and if you keep the fur­niture light in appearance, the room will seem larger and less crowded. Also, oversized furniture may not be adaptable for other places in which you may someday live.

If you decide you want a sofa, buy one 82 Inches by 84 inches. This is a common size and will comfort­ably seat three people. There is no need to buy one over 90 Inches. Six to 10 Inches can make a very big dif­ference in placement of furniture and overall appearance, Also, don't buy a sofa that is overstuffed, with big heavy arms. It will seem larger than it actually is and defeat your purpose. A sofa-bed may be another practical option to consider.

The same principles apply to the selection of upholstered chairs or any other piece of furniture you are considering.

Modular units — furniture that comes in individual pieces, which fit together almost like a jigsaw puzzle work especially well because of their flexibility in arrangement,

Another thing to consider in se­lecting upholstery is the fabric, Buy one that is durable, easily cleaned and neutral in color, You never know what colors you'll be dealing with, and when you are renting, they cannot be changed. A large floral print in pinks and mauve won't be so lovely if you’re stuck with red carpeting, large prints also make the furniture look larger and the room appear smaller.

Wall units are other strong possi­bilities to consider. They come in all sizes, but most are about 30 Inches wide and 84 inches high. They are free-standing and can be used alone or grouped together. Wall units also can be used anywhere ~ in the liv­ing room, dining room, bedroom or den. They can store and display many things sum as stereo equip­ment and televisions. Often wall units house desks and bars and some even have fold down tables for eat­ing. They are available in many dif­ferent styles and finishes to suit any­one's taste,

When you choose a dining room or kitchen table, keep in mind that many eating areas in apartments are

confined. A small table with leaves that can be added when company comes or left in permanently later is often a wise choice, If you purchase additional chairs, consider whether they would be appropriate used at a desk or in the bedroom when not in use at the dining table.

Don't invest in things you can't move with you. Wallpaper, carpeting and built-in shelves can be very ap­pealing, but instead use art, accesso­ries, area rugs and display units to add Interest.

The major pieces of furniture you buy should be good quality so they will endure the moves and serve you well for many years to come, "Fill In" pieces may consist of baskets for end tables, canvas direc­tor's chairs, card tables covered with cloths, paper lanterns, brick and board bookcases, and fabrics, photographs, posters or inexpensive rugs for wall decorations, Do keep In mind that large plants often don't survive a move and are expensive to replace.

Window treatments are another concern because more often than not, they will not fit in the next place. Avoid costly custom window treatments and instead buy Inexpen­sive roll up or horizontal blinds, dra­peries in standard sizes or use sheets to make a reasonably priced roman shade, balloon shade or draperies. Depending upon the room and the privacy required, a folding screen, hanging plants or a curtain on the bottom half of the window may be sufficient.

Each place you move to will take on a new look with the flexibility of the pieces you’ve collected.