What not to do furniture shopping photo

Buying the right furniture can be tricky. Something can look gorgeous in the store, but hideous in your house… or it falls apart… or it ends up being uncomfortable… etc., etc. (come on, we’ve all done it). But if you abide by these ten furniture shopping guidelines, you can finally get it right the first time.

  1. NEVER… Leave your tape measure at home

    Furniture showrooms are huge. Your living room, probably not so much. What looks like a small-ish piece in the store, may end up being way oversized for your space. Before you leave home, measure the room and specific areas you are shopping for. Make notes, maybe even a drawing. Take that and the tape measure with you. If a piece isn’t the right size for the room, move on, you can’t shrink it once it’s in.

  2. NEVER… Buy the whole vignette

    Sure, it looks cute in the store, and it all matches very nicely. But once you get it home, it will look like exactly what it is: a vignette in a furniture store that’s all matchy-matchy. A well-designed room (depending on the look you’re going for) should look like it came together over time or was at least curated with careful thought and consideration. Mix it up, add some personality to your room, and avoid the furniture vignette.

  3. NEVER… Assume the color will be ok

    Color is a funny thing. What looks gray in the store may look green or purple in your house. Light and surrounding colors can have a profound effect on how we perceive color. Take paint chips with you of your wall colors and even samples of other fabrics in your room (like pillow cases, throw pillows or small fabric swatches). If at all possible, ask to take home a fabric swatch so you can actually see it in the room. Many stores have fabric samples they can check out to you (maybe take a couple in case your first choice ends up looking not-so-pretty once you get it home).

  4. NEVER… Pay the sticker price

    Most furniture stores are willing to discount prices if you ask, especially if you are buying more than one item. Unless it’s on clearance, most items are marked up with wiggle-room so they can mark them down for sales or offer incentives like 0% financing. Ask the sales person for a discount, and if they give it to you, ask for a little more! (The worst thing that could happen is they say “no,” right!?)

  5. NEVER… Only look at the top/front of it

    Yes, this may be the only part you see most of the time, but it’s the other sides like the back and the bottom that will indicate the quality of the furniture. Knock on the middle of the back of the sofa, is there a brace there or is it hollow all the way across? Is the back of that nightstand wood or cardboard? Look at the underside, is it glued-together particleboard or nailed solid wood? Ask if the cushions have springs or just foam. Furniture isn’t cheap, make sure you get something that will last (and if you’re ok with particle-board furniture, that’s your choice, just make sure you aren’t paying solid wood prices for it).

  6. NEVER… Choose a piece just because it’s on sale

    Everybody likes to save a buck (especially me). But buying something you don’t really like just because it’s on sale means you’ll have something in your home that doesn’t make you happy, doesn’t look right, and you’ll just end up replacing it eventually anyway. In the long run, you end up paying for two chairs instead of just stepping up and buying the right one in the first place. That’s just a waste of money (and nobody likes wasting money).

  7. NEVER… Sit on it prim and proper in the store

    It may seem awkward to lay down on the sofa in the showroom or kick off your shoes and curl your legs underneath you, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t. Make sure the furniture, sofas especially, fits the way you use it. Unless you always sit facing straight forward with your feet flat on the floor at home, don’t do it in the store. Lay down, curl up, slide an ottoman over, whatever fits your lifestyle. If it’s not comfortable for the way you sit, you want to know before you get it home.

  8. NEVER… Forget who else will be using it

    That white velvet chaise may look so beautiful and elegant in the store, but before you fork over your credit card, remember who else will be using it… Do you have four grandchildren under the age of five who come over every weekend? Are your three black dogs going to be sleeping on it no matter how many times you shoo them off? Is it going in the family room where guests saunter in from the beach and plop down to watch TV? Even if you’re a neat freak, make sure colors and fabrics are appropriate for everyone else who uses your furniture, too.

  9. NEVER… Avoid the floor model

    Often times you can get a pretty good deal on floor models (refer to #4 above), and they’re usually only lightly used. Remember, no one sits down in the store to watch a two-hour movie with big bowl of popcorn. A handful of people sit on it for a few minutes daily. You’re not likely to see a lot of wear and tear on floor models, but it can accumulate some dirt. Be sure to give it a thorough once-over, but if everything looks good and clean, don’t be afraid to ask for a smokin’ deal on it!

  10. PLEASE, PLEASE… if you love it, DON’T leave the store without it!

    If it’s perfect, and you love it, buy it! You don’t want to spend the next three years looking for a chair just like the one you loved and didn’t buy. If you wait until next week, it may be gone. Trust me, when you find “the one,” don’t let it go. Buy that sucker, take it home, and bask in the perfectness of your new furniture.

If you can manage not to do these 10 things while furniture shopping, you should be well on your way to picking out some fabulous new pieces for your home. But if you still can’t get it right, or just don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself, I’d love to help you out. I have access to great furniture manufacturers, and the expertise to make sure your room looks outstanding the first time. Schedule a design consultation today.

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