Large furniture stores like Ashleys, Ethan Allen, and Macy’s Furniture often arrange sets in faux-room displays. As you move from set to set you get the idea that all of the furniture in a room should match and that all of your accessories should match too. These displays are designed to sell you as much of the stores furniture and accessory pieces as possible. This is not the best way to buy the furniture for your home.
Every homeowner or renter has a unique space. Your living room may be larger than the display space in the store and your bedroom may be smaller. Inside the store the designer that creates these displays borrows visual space from the surrounding areas so that the furnishings look appropriately scaled. Inside your home you cannot borrow visual space, you have walls.
If you are visiting the store without an accurate floor plan of your home drawn on graph paper and detailed with a furniture design layout, then you are likely to buy furniture that is too large or too small for your home. You may have seen designers on popular television shows wandering through stores and pointing out the perfect pieces, making selecting the right piece look easy. What you don’t see is that the designer has plans, a measuring tape, color charts and a book or bag of samples of other items in the room, like floor coloring, drapes, area rugs light fixtures, knobs and more. The designer knows that they have to bring all of the items in a room together to create a cohesive and beautiful room.
Here are some tips to help you make better furniture choices:
- Bring a floor plan and color palette with you
- Bring a tape measure and use it
- Bring a camera (or cell phone with camera) and take pictures of each piece you like
- Do not order or purchase an item impulsively
- Ask the store if they offer a free designer service
- Ask the salesperson to show you catalog alternatives to the items you like
- Bring a budget and a list of the items on the budget
Many stores have designer services for free or at low cost. Usually the designer will visit your home and work with you to develop the floor plan, room flow, color palette and furniture sizes that will work best in your space. Ask about discounts, sales, floor models, and other pricing events. Negotiate. In this economy many stores will work with you on price. Don’t be embarrassed, you can sometimes get great deals this way.
Before you make any purchases, visit at least a half-dozen stores to compare prices, quality, services and styles. When you know what’s available it is easier to make better choices.
Once you have selected the pieces you like, shop online for even more bargains. Many stores have online websites that feature the same items for less.
Tips: Make sure you measure your doorways, hallways, stairs, elevators and anything that may obstruct furniture. Not only should your furniture fit your rooms, it must first fit the pathway to your rooms. When in doubt, make a cardboard mock-up of the furniture piece and try to move it into your home. This will save you agonizing and costly surprises.