The 5 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Furniture
Updated: Apr 7, 2021
Buying furniture for a whole house or even just one room can be so daunting. There are sooooo many different things to keep in mind.
First of all, there are tons of options to choose from as far as styles, finishes, manufacturers, fabrics etc. Then we have think about how the pieces coordinate with one another and our homes, while not being too matchy-matchy. Scale should be appropriate according to the size of the space. Try not to purchase throw-away pieces, even when you're on a budget. Oh and...make sure you can get it through the doorways.
You might be tempted to forget the whole project all together, empty your storage unit and kick back on your new Living Room Patio Furniture with a glass of wine but no worries; here are five of the biggest mistakes to avoid when buying new furniture.
1 - My Furniture is Too Big or Too Small for My Space
When shopping for furniture, the most important thing to be aware of is your square footage and the layout of the space. Keep an eye on doors, windows, radiators - things you don't want to block. I find many of my clients have a hard time visualizing a space so grab some painters tape and lay out the pieces on the floor to get a better idea of scale, placement and traffic patterns. If you don't know where you'd like to place your pieces yet, make some templates so you can move them around. Don't forget to measure entry doors and hallways and consider any tight turns you might need to make in order to get the piece to it's final destination. I have a great story about having to saw a custom sectional in half in order to get it out of an elevator. More about that here - hey, it happens to the best of us,
2- Think About Your Lifestyle
We have three dogs, two teenage boys and a cat living in our house and there are no off-limits zones. If you have critters running all around your place and a bunch of kiddos, you don't want to go with light colored or delicate upholstery options. Believe it or not, I specify A LOT of commercial grade upholstery fabrics simply because they are washable and wear like iron. Many of them are even bleach cleanable. You can find the same fluffy mohairs and velvets or amazing patterns as you can with your usual residential grade options and lots of retailers are jumping on board so be sure to ask. You should also consider how many people and / or four legged friends you need to accommodate. If you're a family of five and Rosco loves a good snuggle, you want to make sure every tush has a seat.
3- Don't Get Too Trendy
It's tempting to want to fall in line with the current trends and go crazy buying up all the wicker and rattan you can get your hands on but here's the thing - next year it will be something entirely different. You don't want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on furniture for a season. For the big, basic items, purchase pieces you love that will give you longevity instead of momentary joy. Don't toss aside heirloom or antique pieces you already have since new pieces often make old pieces look even better. You can always explore what's trending with accessories that are easy and less expensive to change like table or wall décor, throw pillows, window treatments, area rugs or art; even a small accent chair or side table.
4- Quality and The Comfy Factor
Honestly, it's best to always, always, always test drive any seating prior to purchase for the comfy factor and the overall quality but with online shopping becoming the norm, it's not always possible. There are, however, a few things you can do to ease your mind. Try researching the manufacturer - even if your buying from a big box type store (you can usually find the manufacturer's info if you search enough). Read independent reviews, not the ones the manufacturer posts for you. Research the actual piece of furniture you're looking to buy. Read more reviews. Ask your friends. Find out what the construction is, what the fill is and what the materials are. If you can't find information online, take the old fashioned route and call the manufacturer direct with a list of your questions. Finally, check out where it was made. It's a pretty safe bet that anything manufactured here in the good ol' US of A, in High Point, North Carolina, is going to be a quality piece of furniture compared to much of what is made overseas. Many of the folks in High Point, the American epicenter of furniture manufacturing for a century at least, are operating family run businesses that have been there for years and these folks know their stuff. It might cost you a little more to purchase a better piece of furniture but hey, you get what you pay for.
5- Whatever You Do, DO NOT Buy the Set
I mean, come on. You're better than that and you know it, I don't care if you've been working on this for a year. Do not settle on a matching set just to get it done. Your home should reflect you and your personality not a catalog page or showroom vignette. You want your space to feel curated, collected and unique and buying a Bedroom or Living Room set is the quickest way to Dullsville. Check out a few different stores or online shops, Get wood and fabric samples along the way (many online retailers will send these to you for free if you ask) so you can compare and coordinate the pieces. Take photos of your favorites and keep a file or pin them to Pinterest. Good design is all about layering materials and textures, not copying and pasting. It's ok to mix wood and metal finishes, patterns and even furniture styles to your hearts content. I know you want to get it done but furnishing a house is something that should be done over time, not in a one stop shop.
My last bit of advice - If you need help, ask for it. If you think hiring a designer is expensive, think about what some of these too-easy-to-make mistakes could cost you!!
I'm here if ya' need me!