Things to Consider: Your Furniture Shopping Guide

There are two types of people: those that love furniture shopping and those that hate it. However, there’s one thing that they both have in common – they’ve got to do it at some point.

Buying new furniture has always been and always will be tough. It’s expensive – should you scrimp? What about quality? If you do invest in expensive items, will this last? Is this the style you want to stick with for years? There’s a lot to consider and that’s before researching brands, furniture stores and navigating salespeople.

Whether you’re moving into your first home, or simply enjoying a spending spree, splashing out on new furniture is both a treat and joy. But it does require some serious thought, especially since you’ll have to live with your choices for some time.

Furniture Shopping Guide:

Match Your Needs and Your Budget

What you need is one thing but why you need it is another. Sorry, but someone needed to say it. Set aside a budget and actually stick to it – don’t just use it as a guideline. Sometimes it’s better to buy a plant and place it in the space of something you might manage to save up for, rather than spending on a piece of furniture that’s temporary.

If the piece that you’re after isn’t urgent, then wait for the sales. Or, buying secondhand is always worth a look too; you can scour the small ads of local papers, internet free ads, or visit local charity shops and boot fairs for bargains. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If you pick it up cheap at a bootsale it may require some TLC to get refurbished back to your standard but it’ll be both one-of-a-kind and a satisfying personal project.

Investment or Temporary?

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That brings us to the choice of investment or not. Do you want antique, expensive pieces that will be future heirlooms, or are you more of a practical, flat-pack type of person? Classic lines or contemporary? Furniture, like everything, runs in fashion circles – whatever is hot now probably won’t be in a few years time. You might want the latest trend in home decor now, but will you still want it in a year or two’s time?

What’s Your Style?

Arguably the most important thing to consider in a furniture shopping guide is the style of your home, just as much as your taste. A period home can take modern lines well, but you won’t go wrong by sourcing original pieces, perhaps mixing them up. Unless you’re absolutely certain of your own personal sense of style we would recommend opting for timeless or neutral style pieces. Of course, you also have to live with your choice of furniture, so you should also like it!

If you’re unfortunate enough to be in a couple, meaning you have to take their (questionable) style opinions into consideration, then you have to go furniture shopping together and be prepared to compromise – or you might find yourselves living apart.

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Sofa so Good

Buying a new sofa is a momentus occasion, it’s arguably the most important piece of the furniture. So, think carefully. That white fabric corner suite would look great. Five minutes with the kids, the dog and you after a few glasses of wine…  it’ll become less and less a great buy, and more and more an expensive mistake.

When shopping for a new sofa you need to consider your context – the what, who and when. What is its intended purpose? Space filler in the study or primetime spot every night? We touch on it above but who will be using it – you, the kids, the cat? There’s no point investing a beautiful and expensive sofa if you’re just going to keep it covered up; buy something washable, hard-wearing and durable.

The size of your new sofa matters too, make sure it doesn’t swamp the room or overspill too close to a fireplace or doors. In fact, ensuring it fits through the front door is the first hurdle make sure to measure up before you pay up!

Dining Well

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You may find yourself eating in a lot more than dining out after all the money has been splurged, so buy a table and chairs that will be comfortable to sit at, and age well. Are you the occasional dinner party host, or a party animal? Will the kids be doing their homework there, or will it double as a desk in a home office?

If you’re limited on space then buy folding chairs and a table that can pull out is necessary when hosting.

(And) so to Bed

Your bed is an often overlooked or rushed purchase. The frame can be plain with a separate headboard which you can always change, or you might choose a heavy wooden bed with an attached bedstead.  What about the mattress? It’s all about that base. A quick roll around in the showroom won’t tell you how your back will feel after five years of living with, and sleeping on, a mattress.

So, ask questions, look at the many different types of mattress, and spend wisely. Spend more money on the family beds, and less on the guest room. We spend a lot of time in bed – and we only have one spine.


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