August 07, 2020

5 Tips For Successful Furniture Shopping


Buying furniture is for me, quite a fun experience but it's been a steep learning curve over the years to get it right. There's been many occasions where we've not thought things through, done enough research or prepared ourselves before hitting the shops and it's led to many costly mistakes over the years. I'll tell you about a couple of these as well as sharing the top five tips for buying furniture that not only fits your needs and taste, but also and most importantly - fits your room!

1. Draw up a room plan

We like to think we have a good idea of our space, but once out in the shops, furniture can be really hard to judge, with high shop ceilings, open spaces and bright lighting altering our judgement. When planning a furniture shop, quickly sketch out a floor print of your room or rooms, so that you have a clear idea of what you can accommodate. Mark out roughly where you want things and what size you'd like, even if you're not quite sure what you exactly need until you see it. We once got a small sofa in Ikea and it looked pretty dwarfed in their lovely big room arrangement, we thought we'd have no issue getting it in our car, but once outside we failed miserably trying to force it in our boot, so rushed it back just before closing for a refund. Once out of the store the sofa felt double the size, it was a 'bargain corner' item so hadn't been flat packed, but once we were home we realised that even if we had got it there it would still have been too long for the area we needed it for, so it could have been worse. Since then I always try and draft a room plan if we are buying big bulky furniture beforehand, to avoid costly or just irritating mistakes.

2. Take measurements

As with the floor plan, taking measurements is a must to ensure you are only buying furniture that will fit your spaces. There's nothing more frustrating than bringing your new furniture in, only to discover too late that it's too big or too small for your needs. When measuring, remember to factor in things like skirting boards that can impact floor space, as well as things like switches and sockets when shopping for wall mounted pieces. Always take a tape measure along shopping with you just in case the measurements aren't on show. As with our Ikea mishap above, if we'd have just measured our room and the sofa first, we'd have saved a lot of time and effort.


3. Make a list beforehand

Before venturing out and getting carried away by pretty things and amazing deals, make a list because it can be so easy to go off track and it doesn't always work out for the best. Make a list including possible options, maximum sizes, requirements such as number of drawers, colours and materials, so that when you're on the shop floor or online shopping that you don't go off track with something that won't be a good match. When it comes to furniture I can be pretty much ruled by budget, but with smaller things like shelving and picture frames I am terrible for overbuying and either having to return items or just have them sat there for months on end, so I always try and stick to a list as best as I can.

4. Look for Functional as well as attractive

Sometimes we get fooled by beautiful furniture, when actually it doesn't serve much of a purpose. Think about what you need from the piece, what function it will serve, what it will need to store, if it will stand the test of time and work for you and your family. I once got a beautiful sold wood chest that was half drawers that didn't really function and the other half was a wine rack. Now firstly I don't drink wine, secondly the drawers were pretty much seized shut from being water damaged, so although it looked gorgeous, it served absolutely no purpose for us aside from gathering dust and the top surface becoming a dumping ground due to lack of drawers. This was probably my most pointless purchase, but it was big, solid and reduced from 300 to £20 due to the damage in a mega yellow sticker event in TK Max. Eventually this left our home and was replaced with a small sideboard with a double cupboard that stores all my art supplies and blankets and two drawers that holds all kinds of things from candles, charging cables and those every day items you like having close to hand. What I learnt from this was to firstly not be sucked in by a bargain and secondly to make sure that furniture has a use, for us right now.

5. Set a budget

This is an obvious one but there can often be offers on which can exceed your budget, with tempting interest free credit deals or just beautiful but expensive furniture that you may regret later. It's not always a good option to buy cheap, so if you are on a very limited budget you may be better to look at second hand high quality furniture as opposed to cheaper newer options. Remember sales people can be particularly unhelpful when it comes to budgets, often tailoring things to your need or persuading you with an up-sale. Stick to your budget and if credit plans are for you, think about this before hand and set a maximum you can afford for monthly payments so you're not caught out in store.

I hope that helps with your next furniture purchase, but if you have any other helpful tips or found these helped you out please do leave a comment below.

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