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How to Shop for Furniture

by Product Specialist

Once you’ve decided on a style, color scheme, and budget, it’s time to focus on furniture. First, you’ll need to re-evaluate the furniture you already have. Should you keep your existing pieces or start all over? And more importantly, how do you avoid making a mistake? If a piece is cheaply made or outdated (unless it has sentimental value), get rid of it.

One important thing to remember before you hit the store-don’t purchase anything until you have the entire room worked out — rugs, furniture, window treatments and lighting. You simply need to have a sense of what you want each piece to look like. You could even assemble a Pinterest-like project board, with clippings of the kinds of pieces you’re looking for. “People often make the mistake of buying an item, and then are locked into decorating the room around that one item,” says interior designer Allison Caccoma.

Whether you buy your big pieces first or last, it’s usually a good idea to keep those furnishings understated. It’s best to keep your fabrics towards the neutral side, and throw in splashes of color on your walls and pillows.

Always remember, comfort is critical! Don’t be afraid to sink your money into seating. Invest in buying the best sofa you can afford. Make sure you sit or lie on the piece before you buy. It’s smart practice to spend money on the pieces you do most of your sitting on, rather than the pieces that hardly get used.

Upholstered pieces are a relatively large investment, so you’ll want things that will last through changes in your lifestyle and taste. As a rule, it’s best to go with simple, clean lines. And don’t fret too much about whether furnishings will go together. Generally speaking, if you like the pieces, they’ll work together.

Here are some tips from Houzz for determining furniture quality:

  • If you’re buying an upholstered piece, lift up a corner and shake it; if it feels light or wobbly, take a pass. Likewise, the heavier the cushion, the longer it will last.
  • When shopping for cabinets, look for drawers with dovetail joints in the corners.
  • In the market for a mattress? Pay attention to coil count: the higher the count, the better the support.