How to Buy Furniture
Before you go furniture shopping, you might want to consider my tips on how to buy furniture:
1. Not all upholstered furniture is created equal!
In my years as a designer for a high-end retailer, the thing I said most to my clients was: ‘Just as in the foundation of a house, what you don’t see matters very much!’ The substructure of your sofa or chair is one of the most important considerations when looking to buy. Look for 8-way hand-tied upholstered pieces. This type of construction is labor-intensive, and most is still made in the USA, therefore, it isn’t cheap. This is what an 8-way hand-tied seating platform looks like:
2. Is it comfortable?
Probably the thing I said next to the most is: ‘If it’s not comfortable, it doesn’t matter how good it looks – it’s not worth a hill of beans!’ There are some exceptions to this, I suppose. If you’re buying furniture for a room that NOBODY uses…EVER… you might get by with buying something based purely on looks. But, why not make everything in your home usable?
3. Will it fit in your space?
I can’t emphasize this enough! It should be obvious, but we sometimes think we can ‘eyeball’ a piece and know it will fit. Some folks are better at this than others, but I still subscribe to the old adage: Measure once, cut twice; Measure twice, cut once! In other words, measuring saves lots of headaches and sometimes, money!
4. When it comes to case pieces (these are your wood pieces), inspect the construction.
Are drawer fronts dovetailed, rather than simply tacked or stapled to the front of the drawer? Is the piece solid wood, veneer on solid wood, or veneer on particle board (MDF)? These are important questions to ask, because construction directly correlates with how long a piece will be serviceable. The term ‘veneer’ has gotten a bad connotation because of its use with particle board. The fact is that the use of veneer as a furniture finishing technique has been around for centuries. The earliest uses were in Egypt, and the technique was perfected in France with the use of marquetry and parquet designs. The key here is – what is the veneer adhered to? Hardwood or particle board? If it’s backed by hardwood, you’re in business!
5. Don’t settle for cheap!
Ok, I know. Not all of us can afford that lovely $4,000 sofa (me either!). But it is better to regard your furniture purchases as an investment, rather than expendable spending, because you will come out better in the long run if you buy the best quality you can afford now.
Here’s why: Let’s say we buy a $500 sofa that’s ok-looking. We know it’s not 8-way hand-tied because we likely won’t find one for less than about $1200+. We buy the cheap one and it’s so-so as far as comfort goes. We use it a few months – break it in – and start to notice that it no longer springs back when we stand up out of it. After 18 months or so, we nearly touch the floor when we sit down on it (whatever seating platform it has underneath is giving way). After 2 years, we just can’t stand it anymore and we’re out shopping again.
On the other hand, let’s say we buy a good quality 8-way hand-tied sofa in a durable fabric and spend about $1500. We enjoy great use out of it for 10 years, maybe longer, before the fabric starts to look worn (the frame and springs are likely still in great shape!). Averaged out per year, we’ve spent $150 on the good quality sofa, and $250 for the poor quality one. Furniture is definitely a category where you get what you pay for!
Well, these are some of my best tips on buying furniture. Take the time to research fine furniture brands. Pay attention to manufacturers listed in decorating magazines. Ask questions about construction.
I hope this helps you when you’re shopping for new furniture! And, as always… thanks for reading!!