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March 2, 2012 > Furniture Shopping is Easy when you Plan Ahead

Furniture Shopping is Easy when you Plan Ahead

Browsing for furniture can easily overwhelm even the hardiest of shoppers. You've decided to buy a new sofa or dining set. You set out on a Saturday ready to buy, but when you get to the furniture showroom, you see so many choices that it is impossible to decide. Or, you see nothing on the floor that is to your liking so you become discouraged and leave with nothing. Does this sound familiar? If so, perhaps the following tips can help.

* Before you go shopping measure your room to determine the size you are looking for. I can't emphasize this enough! Most furniture showrooms are very large, making the furniture look relatively small. Be careful - when you get the furniture home it may be too big for your space. Measure the wall width and height, and also measure any furniture you will be keeping in that room. That way you can make sure the new furniture pieces will be in the proper scale and proportion. Always take your tape measure to the store with you so you can measure on the spot. It's a good idea to take along a few photos of the room too; the sales person can help you determine if the new items will be a good fit in terms of scale, size and style.

* Take paint color chips, a swatch of your drapery fabric, a cutting of your wallpaper, even a cushion from your sofa or chair. This will help you make good color choices. Many stores let you bring fabric swatches home with you, which can be very helpful when trying to coordinate colors and patterns.

* Focus your shopping efforts. Even if you need several new pieces, shop for only one or two pieces at a time. Trying to do too much in one day gets overwhelming. When I take clients shopping, we may look around to see what is available, but we concentrate our time looking at one or two high priority items.

* If you don't see what you are looking for on the showroom floor, be sure and ask a salesperson for help. They can look through their catalogs to find what you need. Furniture stores only have a small percentage of available items on the floor. Often a variety of sizes, styles and finishes are available, but you won't know unless you ask.

* Be prepared to wait several weeks for furniture to arrive. Eight to twelve weeks is a very typical time frame. Don't wait until the last minute to go shopping. If you have a deadline in mind, such as your daughter's wedding shower or husband's birthday party, plan ahead.

* No matter how good a deal it may seem, don't buy an entire living room suite if all you really need is a sofa. The extra furniture pieces will undoubtedly crowd your room, and the look will be too "matchy-matchy." Chairs should coordinate with the sofa, not necessarily match it exactly.

* Ordering furniture online has become more and more popular. Read reviews of the online store, as well as reviews of the piece you are looking to buy. And read the return policy carefully - many items are not returnable, especially if they are custom. Read about their delivery policy as well; does the furniture come assembled or will you have to do that? Does the driver bring it into the house and set it up for you or will the box just be left on your porch or driveway? If a piece is large and heavy, pay extra for the "white glove delivery service" where they bring it in the house for you. Also watch out for the shipping charges, which can add a substantial amount to the purchase price. Be aware and budget accordingly.

* Consignment stores are great places to look for furniture. If you see something you like, buy it right away, as their inventory changes frequently. By the same token, if you don't see anything this time, check again next week. At consignment stores, look for style, comfort and quality. Don't worry about the upholstery fabric; that can always be changed.

* Take only one or two other people with you to shop. Those others could be your spouse, a close friend or your designer. Any more than that and you'll have too many opinions to consider.

With a bit of planning, your shopping experience will be a great success.

Anna Jacoby of Anna Jacoby Interiors is a local Interior Designer. Send your design questions to her at Call or fax her at 510-490-0379 or visit

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