In my experience, when a consumer decides to take the plunge, and buy furniture, they do it in haste. Unlike most items, like electronics, or tires, rarely do I see people do research on quality furniture prices. So on a whim, they decide it’s time to redo the family room because of…. the upcoming wedding, holiday party, family reunion….and like a ticking time bomb they hit every furniture store in town excited and completely overwhelmed. Problem is, they haven’t entered a furniture store in fifteen years, and prices are not what they used to be and neither is quality.
Take your time when exploring the vast options. The array of retailers, catalogs, discount stores, online stores, and boutiques can make you dizzy. All have something fabulous to offer, however, without a plan
, you might as well walk up to the salesman, hand him your money, and walk out. (If you are local, I offer a great class at the library for free, on how to prepare for your next project and budget accordingly. If you are not local, or have no desire to come to one of my awesome, mind-blowing classes, here are a few insider tips to help you make smart buying decisions.)
How to buy quality furniture, and avoid costly mistakes
1) Create a plan
Look through books, online and in magazines
, and determine who you are and what your style
is. Study the various brands and construction of pieces. And most importantly research price points. There are different price ranges for everything, but without a plan
you will end up making huge sacrifices, costly mistakes, or worse, end up having your eyes pop out when you realize it’s impossible to redo your entire room for a thousand dollars, despite HGTV telling you it could be done.
Always make sure you have an idea of what will fit, and not fit. Don’t go into a furniture store and buy a sofa that is 96″ long if the space will only allow for 72″. Determine the layout that will work in your room, along with measurements, and take it with you into the store. This will eliminate half the available selection on the floor, and make decision making much simpler. promise!
Learn the terminology. For example, do you know the difference between a nightstand and a bachelor’s chest? A hassock and a foot stool? Well students, these items are one in the same. How about a casegood or occasional chair? Many items on the floor will look similar but be entirely different in terminology. Learn the general vernacular so you can easily speak with your sales assistant and find what you need quickly. Also, knowing the language will give you an inside edge. Those of us in the industry never use certain words like couch, or curtains.
4) Know your woods.
When shopping for casegoods look for info that labels which woods or veneers are used. Woods have different properties, durability, and behave differently in certain climates. Look for strong construction. Where does the piece bare the most weight- the legs, shelves, braces, drawers? Look at the doors and drawers. Do they open and shut easily? Are there any visual imperfections? This is where buying vintage and antique reins king. Solid construction and dynamite wood choices – plus you can see how it has held up for the last 40-150 years. Too bad that’s not an option when you get married!
Bone up on the manufacturer that you plan to invest in. For instance, if I’m unable to find a vintage upholstery piece that works for the room I am designing, I will look to companies like LEE Industries. I favor them over many other manufacturers because they are made in the USA, (very important) their pieces are kiln dried, eight-way hand tied, hardwood joined with dowels, tempered steel springs that are sag less, their quality is unsurpassed for the money, and they are eco-friendly. Plus I have found many vintage LEE pieces over the years that only needed reupholstering and nothing else. If after 40 years it just needs a little lipstick that is serious quality.
6) Hire a professional
Hiring an interior designer can really help you get the plan together. If you have no idea where to start, or don’t have the time, a professional can get you to the spot you need to be quickly, and provide a lot of value. Let’s face it, you don’t know what you don’t know. Developing a plan can be the hardest thing for a consumer to set in motion. They do not always know where to start
. A designer can help you decipher what works and doesn’t, and build your space plan that gives you direction. Once a design concept is mature, you can easily be let loose into a furniture store with confidence, and build the room of your dreams.