Furniture Shopping

12 questions an interior designer always asks before saying yes to a new piece. Get ready to become a seasoned furniture buyer with these expert tips from top-notch interior designers.

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Ask yourself: is it a timeless piece, and can I live with it for the long haul? How long do you want this piece to last? “It’s important to ask yourself this question, because it can help to align money in your budget with the pieces that count. It’s perfectly OK to buy a piece of furniture to last only a few years, especially if you’re prone to moving frequently or if you just want your furniture to survive your children’s messiest years. But if you’re ready to invest in a piece that will go the distance, really take the time to investigate the quality and longevity of your purchase.

Can you use this for multiple purposes? Whether a piece is multi-functional or can easily transition from one home to the next has a huge impact on decision-making, especially when deciding to save or splurge. “Naturally not all pieces will pass this test, but where possible, try to find big pieces that can serve double duty as it will lengthen the life of the item and save you money in the long run.”

Is this piece proportional to the room? It’s easy to fall in love with a piece that you desperately want to squeeze into your home at any cost, ensure that there is enough space between items to walk around. That means leaving three feet around every piece of furniture, especially in high-traffic areas (think living rooms and dining rooms). Also, make sure that the pieces feel proportional to each other. You don’t want your coffee table dwarfed by a too-large sofa.

Is it in a colour that will complement your home? “Interiors don’t need to be matchy-matchy, “but picking something that works within your existing colour palette will ensure a cohesive, elevated look.” Look for analogous tone-on-tone options or complementary colours that work well together. When in doubt, stick to neutrals.

Would a custom alternative be better? It’s surprising how bespoke furniture often costs the same or even less than store-bought counterparts. “If you fall in love with something that’s just slightly off for your space due to material, colour, or size, it’s worth looking into whether a local fabricator can tailor-make the perfect piece to your exact specifications,”

Are you falling into a trend trap? “Live with the idea of the piece,” and if you still love it after a week, make the investment.”

Will this fit through the front door?  This will usually involve measuring all doors, hallways, and clearance length between all interior and exterior walls. The last thing you want is to wait eight weeks for your custom sofa to arrive, only to realize that it will not fit through your front door.

How much can you actually spend on this piece? Can you buy it now, or should you save and wait a little longer? Being ruthlessly honest with yourself here will force you to stay on top of your budget. You might even get creative and find a better budget alternative.

When do you need this to arrive? Some purchases are a little more urgent than others, so prioritize each piece and always check furniture lead times, as they can wildly vary from one store to another.

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