Promotional poster for Nintendo's new

Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons game is arguably keeping a lot of people sane right now. The Switch game, which finally debuted in March after a long wait and more than a few delays, offers a virtual space in which players can take part in activities that are otherwise forbidden in these times of social distancing, like fishing tournaments, treasure hunts, and even birthday parties.

For design fiends, the game has something else to offer: the chance to decorate and customize all kinds of furniture pieces. In the process of getting settled into their islands and attracting more inhabitants, players start to fill houses with furniture. Unfortunately, there’s a bit you have to do before you unlock this nifty DIY feature. Let’s get started.

One of the first things you have to do in

If you’ve never played Animal Crossing before, here’s some quick info on the fifth edition of Nintendo’s anthropomorphic animal games. This “life simulation” lets you control an avatar that’s starting a new life in a new town where sunset, sunrise, and the seasons align with those in your real environment. The goal is simply to explore, hang out with the townspeople, keep the place clean, and nurture your own spaces.

In this particular version of the game, you get your own island rather than a town, and when you first arrive, there’s very little other than the tent of Tom Nook, the character who operates the village store. You’ll need to start by unlocking the museum through a donation of five fish or bugs to him, and carrying out a few more steps along the way.

Completing tasks for Tom Nook is an essential part of unlocking the customizable furniture feature.

You’ll then need to get three new villagers to move to your island. A visitor should arrive to your campsite the day after it’s completed, and in the course of conversation, you can invite them to live on your island in order to progress. Soon after that, Tom Nook should invite you to a customization workshop, after which you’ll receive 50 customization kits that you can apply to your furniture pieces. A paintbrush icon will appear on the recipe card of each object that can be customized. To personalize them, just head to any workbench and choose the option “Customize something.”

The options that appear give you control over every aspect of each piece, from the design and size to the color and finish. Just remember that the more complex your changes, the more customization kits you’ll need to use. But even after you’ve spent all the kits from Tom Nook, you can purchase more from Timmy and Tommy at the Nook’s Cranny shop. Each kit costs 600 Bells, so be sure to spend your currency wisely if you have a lot of interior designing in mind.

Customizing a simple wooden wardrobe in Nintendo's new

Animal Crossing avatar proudly holds up a player-made flimsy axe.

Still trying to figure out how to connect with friends within the game? You’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online membership to access online multiplayer features. Once you have that, up to eight players can interact on one player’s island via online multiplayer or local wireless. To invite friends who don’t live with you, unlock Dodo Airlines on day two, select “I want visitors,” “via online play,” and then open your island to either “All My Friends!” or “Only My Best Friends!”