Furniture Shopping Tips – General
According the the American Furniture Manufacturers Association, consumers should do the following when shopping for furniture:
• Identify your personal style. Is it casual, contemporary, country, traditional, eclectic, rustic, transitional, tropical or Asian? If unsure look at the items around you to see how they reflect your personality – your wardrobe, your car, your magazines and favorite movies.
• Examine your preferences. Make a list of your favorite colors, textures and patterns. Do you prefer bold colors or pastels? Solids, stripes or plaids? Soft, light fabric covers or rich tapestries?
• Consider your lifestyle. Do you plan to have a family or already have children? Pets? Are you planning to move soon?
• Prioritize your purchases. Decide which items of furniture you want or need most, and buy those first. Then build around them.
• Determine your budget. No matter how much or how little you want to spend, you can find good values that suit your style in any price category.
• Budget your time to suit your shopping style. Do you enjoy doing lots of research and browsing, or are you an on-the-spot buyer? Shopping for furniture can be as easy or involved as you want it to be. Our website can help you either way. The Internet is a great way to gather information, get ideas, look at pictures, answer questions, read consumer furniture shopping guides, and find just what you need.
• Explore available resources. Look to home programs, books, magazines, catalogs, Web sites and furniture showrooms to provide inspiration. Keep a scrapbook of furniture styles you like. Some of our favorites are Elle Decor, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, Southern Living, Midwest Living, Country Home, House and Garden, Traditional Home, House Beautiful, and HGTV.
• Take advantage of free services. Many furniture stores such as ours offer such benefits as interior design consulting, room planning guides and product brochures.
• Trust your own judgment. Buy what you like, and don’t be afraid to be bold or different.
• Have fun and enjoy the process. Furnishing your home to express your personal style can be one of life’s greatest and most enduring pleasures.
Shopping for your Living Room
If you are shopping for a new sofa or couch, the Upholstered Furniture Action Council (UFAC) and the American Furniture Manufacturers Association make the following recommendations:
• Color will be the first element to which you respond.
• When you find a style that appeals to you, try it out for comfort.
• Bounce up and down on the cushions. Make sure it feels right (comfortable) to you.
• Wiggle the arms. Do they hold firm, indicating good workmanship?
• Lift the frame. Does it feel heavy and sturdy?
• Examine the fabric. Are the seams straight? Does the fabric line up properly? Does it feel pleasing to the touch?
• Check the price. Quality sofas are available in all price ranges.
• Measure it. You don’t want the sofa to overwhelm your room, but you also don’t want it to be dwarfed by other pieces.
• For fire safety reasons, look for the gold UFAC tag, indicating that the sofa manufacturer certifies it is made in accordance with UFAC methods designed to reduce the likelihood of upholstered furniture fires from smoldering cigarettes.
• After you’ve done all your checks, the most important thing is to follow your heart. If you love it, then it’s right for you.
Additional Tips to help you shop for living room furniture If you are decorating or remodeling your living room, The American Furniture Manufacturers Association makes the following recommendations for living room furniture shopping:
• First consider your lifestyle. Do you have children?
• Determine your budget.
• In addition to a sofa or other major seating piece, you’ll probably also want a chair or two to accommodate guests.
• You will need occasional tables such as end tables and a cocktail table.
• An entertainment center or wall unit is a must for all the electronic equipment, TV, DVD, etc.
• Measure your space carefully to determine what furniture you can comfortably accommodate.
• Lamps are a must for a living room.
• Accessories are essential to put the finishing touch on your space.
• Most importantly, enjoy yourself.
Shopping for a New Bedroom
When shopping for your bedroom you should:
• Decide what best expresses your personal style
• Determine your budget.
• Measure your space to see what pieces you can accommodate.
• A well-equipped bedroom generally consists of a bed, a nightstand or two, a dresser or chest and a mirror. Many of today’s bedrooms feature an armoire, too.
• The bed is generally the focal point of the bedroom so you’ll probably want to select it first.
• When shopping for pieces that aren’t upholstered, such as dressers, chests and tables (known as “casegoods” in the furniture world), find out what they are made of – is it hardwood or softwood? Quality pieces are available in both hard and soft woods.
• With any wood pieces, an examination of the construction will reveal a lot about the quality. Lift a corner. Does it feel heavy and sturdy? Check out the corners. Do they feel strong and secure?
• Open and shut the drawers. Do they open and close easily? Do they fit snugly? You want to make sure they don’t sag.
• Examine the finish of the piece. The finish should be smooth, without cracks or bubbles
• Check the hardware, e.g. handles and pulls, they should be secure and strong with no rough or sharp edges.
• And after you’ve made your major furniture selections, remember to add accessories such as lamps, photo frames, rugs and wall décor.
• Most importantly, enjoy yourself.
Tips for Dining Room Shopping
If you are decorating or remodeling your dining room, The American Furniture Manufacturers Association makes the following recommendations for dining room furniture shopping:
• First decide on the tone of the room. Do you want formal elegance or casual comfort?
• Decide on a budget.
• Measure and evaluate your space to see what pieces you can accommodate.
• Basic pieces for a well-equipped dining room are generally a table and chairs, a china cabinet for display and storage and a sideboard or buffet for serving and additional storage.
• The dining table and chairs serve as the centerpiece of the room – this is a good place to start.
• When shopping, look underneath the table to see how it is supported – four legs, pedestal, trestles – you want something that will be comfortable for you and your guests when seated.
• Dining tables are generally constructed of wood, metal or natural or cast stone, often with a glass or stone top.
• Most materials also are offered in a variety of finishes, from light to dark. Examine the finish by rubbing your hands across the top and sides.
• Be sure to take a seat in the dining chairs and sit back for a while. Wiggle the backs, legs and arms. Do they feel sturdy? Are they comfortable?
• Once you’ve selected your major furniture pieces, move to the finishing touches: accessories. They will help you create the right ambience.
Taking Care of your Furniture
Furniture plays an important part in our lives and in our homes. That is why it is essential to care for our furniture to ensure its longevity and cleanliness. By using a little common sense, a little patience and some elbow grease, our home furnishings will last several lifetimes. Here are a few basic tips to keep our home furnishings looking their best:
• Because dust can be abrasive, always dust with a soft lint-free cloth that is moistened with polish. Never use soap and water on wood furniture.
• Use the same type of furniture polish consistently, as furniture can appear streaky if oil- and wax-based polishes are mixed.
• Wipe in a circular motion to loosen old polish, and buff until it’s dry for a perfect finish.
• A natural bristle paintbrush can be used to dust intricate designs in wood.
• Vacuum upholstery (and rotate cushions) once weekly to avoid fabric problems. You also can use the round brush attachment to clean wood furniture.
• Always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions. Keep them handy for future reference.
• Avoid exposing wood furniture and upholstery to continuous direct sunlight to avoid fading and other damage.
• Protect your wood furniture from humidity by using an air conditioner in the summer and a humidifier in winter. Place furniture at least 12 inches away from temperature extremes such as heaters and air conditioners.
• Use coasters, pads and other protection against spills and other stains.
• Gently lift, open and close doors, lids and drawers.
• Do not allow cats and dogs on furniture, as they can be extremely abrasive to furnishings.
Everyday Use -
• Sit only on structures designed for that purpose.
• Do not place hot items on a finish that will melt away or stain.
• Beware of water from spills and condensation on drink glasses that can cause damage to coatings.
• When moving a piece of furniture, do not drag it, move it from its strongest part.