Interior design has been a passion and career for me for many years. I am also Feng Shui certified.
I have been in the furniture industry since the late 80s, mostly as a furniture consultant for residential clients. Shopping for furniture can not only be frustrating but also costly when mistakes are made. I am here to give you success tips on how to shop for furniture and get it right the first time.
Use these time-saving, mistake-free tips when you go on your furniture shopping outings and be armed with exactly what you will need in order to make sensibly good decisions the first time.
Measure and Sketch Your Room or Space
The most important information to have when going to the furniture stores is to know the dimensions of the room or space that you are wanting to furnish. It is always best to know the overall dimensions. You can get this by measuring from wall to wall in both directions.
On a piece of paper, draw the shape of the room and put the overall measurements of the length and width. If you have a rectangle-shaped room, and the length is 18' and the width is 14', then write those dimensions on your sketch accordingly. Next, on the sketch, notate where any architecture is. Draw in the windows, fireplace, doors, and any other important things that would impair or assist in logical furniture placement. Don't stress yourself out by trying to make it perfect. It is just a sketch to bring to the store so that your furniture consultant can know what they are dealing with. Most furniture stores have programs for room planning, and your furniture consultant will be able to do a quick room plan from your sketch.
Taking pictures of the room and also what existing pieces that you are planning on keeping are very helpful. Bringing pictures of the room will help your consultant know about lighting, colors, and walk flow. Describing color is very difficult because what you may consider to be grey may look blue to someone else. Also, having pictures of existing furniture will help your furniture consultant get a sense of your style. You can never bring enough information. If there is an upholstered piece that you are wanting to keep, bring a pillow or part of the fabric in if possible. If you have a floor sample available, bring that in as well.
Know the Look and Purpose That You Want
Know what look or purpose you are trying to accomplish. It's best not to come in and tell your consultant what style you are wanting. Over the years, I have had so many people come in asking for a certain style but they really mean something else. They have told me that they want contemporary and when I show them true contemporary, they become frustrated because what they really meant was an updated version of traditional. If you are trying to accomplish a cozy relaxing space to watch movies in, let your consultant know that so that he/she can direct you to the correct pieces. Your consultant is an expert and will ask you questions throughout the process in order to find the perfect furniture to fit your lifestyle and needs.
Take some time and think about what colors you would like to surround yourself with. Don't worry about what color trends are happening. Furniture is like fashion and changes over time. If blue is the current trend but you hate that color, then let your consultant know that. He/she will work with you to incorporate the colors that you desire to be around. Also, when dealing with wood products such as bedroom, dining room, and accent pieces, be sure to let your consultant know what finishes you like. Dark finishes, light finishes, or painted.
Know Your Budget and How You Want to Pay
Having a sense of what your budget is to complete your project is essential. Research what current prices are to avoid sticker shock. Also, understand that with furniture, you truly do get what you pay for. Quality will vary with the exact same design of furniture. Understanding the difference is important. Your consultant will be able to demonstrate the differences in the quality while you are in the showroom. Giving this information to your furniture consultant will save you both time. If you have a large budget and want quality pieces, allowing your consultant to know that does not mean that he/she will only take you to the most expensive pieces. It will mean that your consultant will understand that you are wanting to purchase pieces that will last a long time.
Some people like to redecorate every five years or so, which means that your consultant will use a smaller budget while others want to keep their furniture for a longer period of time. Knowing how you are planning to pay for your purchase is important. If you are planning on using the store's finance plan, let your consultant know. Your consultant will be able to educate you on the best plan that is being offered which will fit your needs.
Take Home Samples
Lighting is going to be very different in your home than it is in the showroom. It is important for you to ask if you may take home any samples of fabrics in order for you to see them in the space they will be going into. Hues will change in different lighting. You will also want to see how the colors change at different times of the day. Most stores will have swatches that you can check out for a couple of days. This allows you to live with the color/pattern for a few days to make sure that you still love it.
Free Design Service
Most mid to high-end furniture stores will offer a free in-home design service. Once a few core pieces have been chosen, your consultant and or store designer will come to your home to measure and take pictures. They will then go back to the store and do a floor plan and a complete design for you. Bringing in colors and pieces to fill spaces that you might not have thought about originally.
The presentation will have the furniture that you had originally agreed upon as well as accent and accessory pieces giving you a complete look. You will then be invited in for a full presentation and purchase either the entire design or portions of it. Presentations will be within the original budget that you had discussed with your consultant so do not be worried that the complete look is out of your price range. It will be expected that you make a purchase at the time of the presentation. Do remember that it is a lot of work for your consultant to create the perfect design for you. If you are not ready to make a purchase or still feel the need to shop around, then in-home design service is not for you until you are committed to working with that store.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.