Buying furniture can be frustrating and confusing, but if you have a little bit of knowledge about design and the furniture business, it can save you time and money in the long run. Here are some furniture-buying tips to help you get the best deal on your new furniture.
What you need to consider before you head to the furniture store
Buying new furniture sure is fun, but not planning out your space before you look for a new furniture piece is a big mistake. It doesn’t matter what room you are buying furniture for, living room, dining room, or bedroom, it is a really good idea to plan out your design before you make a new purchase. You do not want to buy a new dining table that doesn’t fit in the room! Or what if you can’t walk around that new coffee table?
Make a floor plan! Write down the dimensions of your room on a piece of paper and take it with you. Don’t make the mistake of buying something that won’t fit in the room. Another way to check to make sure your furniture will fit in the room is to tape out the measurements on the floor with painter’s tape. This will give you a great indication of how much room a piece will take up in the space.
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Make sure you make a floor plan before you purchase anything. Don’t just measure the room either. It has to fit in the door! If you don’t know how then read my post “How to make a floor plan”
What is the room going to be used for? What will you need in the room to make it function for you? Think about how you are going to use the room and make a list of items that you will need in order to make this room work for you. For example, if you like to read in your living room, then make sure you have a side table next to your favorite chair to hold a lamp and a cup of coffee.
Deal with the bones first. Start with items that are attached to the room such as the floor, walls, and any built-in items such as a fireplace or cabinets. Decide if you will be painting or replacing anything before you pick a fabric for your new pieces. Unless you are redecorating the whole room, you will need to coordinate the existing pieces with your new ones.
What do you need to replace or upgrade? Getting a new sofa is great but what if you can just replace the cover? Save yourself some money by seeing what items you can update or borrow from other rooms in your home before you purchase something new. Take pictures with your phone of what you are keeping so you will have it with you when you’re shopping.
What should I keep in mind when buying furniture?
When you are making a big purchase for expensive pieces of furniture, your best option is to stay with a neutral and/or traditional style. This is because most people don’t buy big-ticket furniture pieces very often. So, it needs to last and will need to coordinate with smaller items that you may change out more frequently.
Another option would be to purchase a slip-covered sofa. This way if you decide to redecorate your room, you can simply switch out the cover for a whole new look without buying a whole new piece of furniture.
Ask for fabric swatches. Most furniture stores have swatches showing the different options available. Ask if you can borrow a swatch, if they don’t have one you can buy. This is an important tip because you will be able to use this swatch to make sure your other purchases and existing furniture and decor will work with the material you chose.
If you can’t get a swatch then take a picture of the swatch outside in the daylight so you can get a good look at the true color. Furniture stores are full of florescent lighting and it will look different there than it will in your home.
Also, ask the salesperson for fabric recommendations that would be best for you and your circumstances; kids, pets, etc.
While buying sets of furniture could save you money, try to coordinate your furniture pieces, not match them. Yes, you’re guaranteed that everything works together when you buy a set, but when everything’s the same it tends to be a little predictable and boring. Mix it up! If you stay within the same styles of furniture, rather than a set, it will be easier for you to coordinate different pieces.
You will also want to keep scale in mind when buying your furniture. If you have a large room, and buy small scaled furniture, it will look like doll furniture in the room. And if you have a small room and buy large-scaled furniture it will make the room look even smaller. You don’t want a huge over-sized sofa in a small room.
It isn’t easy to make an online furniture purchase. You can’t see or touch the furniture and the colors may be off while viewing the items on your computer. If you are going to purchase your furniture online then I would check to see what their return policy is and if you will need to pay for return shipping. Personally, I would save online shopping for more affordable furniture rather than for your higher-priced ones.
When is the best time to purchase furniture?
There are some great times to buy furniture during the year. Two of them are during the holidays of Memorial day and Veteran’s day. Furniture stores have some great sales and you will get a great deal around this time.
You can also get a good deal around the 4th of July, and right after Christmas because furniture stores are trying to get rid of the old inventory to make room for new stuff. You may see a lot of floor models going on sale during this time.
Avoid furniture sales tactics
These are the best furniture shopping tips I can give you…
Avoid 0% down, no interest offers! First of all, most furniture stores are inflating the price during these promotions. They are hoping you’re so excited about the 0% down that you don’t notice the price increase.
Second, if you don’t pay off the whole amount during the interest-free period, then you will pay all of the interest retroactively! This could get really expensive if you’re buying a lot of furniture. And to make matters worse, the minimum payments may not add up to the full amount. So, you think you’re doing everything right until you get a huge bill for the 20-30% interest rate after you’ve paid off your loan. YIKES!
Make sure you talk with the salesperson about their delivery terms. How much are the delivery costs? Does it cover the damage? What happens if they can’t get it into your house? What happens if you’re not home? Get it all in writing so you don’t end up with extra expenses you were not ready for. And don’t forget to include a tip for your drivers.
Don’t just settle for their price. If you find a piece that you love, shop around in stores and online to find the best price and ask if they do price matching.
What should I look for when buying furniture?
First, determine how much you want to spend. If you are going to buy furniture, and it needs to last a long time, then high-quality furniture is your number one priority. On the contrary, if you are like me and redecorate your home a lot, or maybe you’re decorating a guest room, then you could get away with a less expensive alternative. Here are some furniture-buying tips for quality and construction.
Solid wood construction will be your most expensive option, but it will last through generations.
Wood veneers are less expensive because the base of the piece will be made up of cheaper wood and then wrapped with better-quality wood on the surface. This way you get the look of quality wood, without the expense.
Then you have the least expensive option, particleboard. Particleboard is made up of scraps of wood, glue, plastic, and more. It is very porous and not very sturdy. Save this type of furniture for accent pieces that will not see a lot of wear and tear.
For wood furniture, look for quality joinery details such as dovetailed drawers, and quality accessories such as metal drawer slides. Make sure all moving parts operate smoothly. Pull out the drawers, open the doors, and make sure everything is in great working order.
Comfort will probably be the most important consideration when buying furniture. Make sure you sit on the furniture you’re going to purchase and see how you like the firmness. Remember, a lot of people are sitting on the furniture in the showroom and it will feel softer, because of it being worn in. This is good in a way because you will know how the furniture will hold up with use. But at the same time, your sofa cushion will feel different when you first get it home.
If you are buying a sleep sofa/sectional keep in mind that the mechanism and mattress in the sleep section will cause your seating to feel a lot firmer then the section without a sleep sofa. Just be aware of this.
Look for cushions with springs to keep its shape longer. For back cushions look for fillers that are wrapped in plastic and offer chambers or channels to hold the stuffing. This will help keep your stuffing even instead of having that back cushion slump where your cat sits.
Where to buy good, inexpensive furniture
However, I never pass up an opportunity to buy my furniture used. Check out a local yard sale, garage sale, estate sale, thrift stores, and antique stores for second-hand furniture. You can find some good quality furniture that may just need a little updating for a little bit of money.
If your still not sure where to shop or what to buy, hire an interior designer to help you. They know all the best places to shop and can even pass on their savings onto you.