Expert Advice: Be Smart, Be Informed

Expert Advice: By Phyllis Van Doren

Five top designers offer hints on buying furniture…

SINCE THIS IS A MAJOR INVESTMENT in the quality of life for you and your family, I would recommend hiring a professional to help you choose furnishings. Professionals understand style, scale and the function of each piece. They have access to the best sources, the best fabrics, micro-fibers and leathers.

If that’s not in your budget, then buy the best quality you can afford at the time, even if this means buying one piece at a time or furnishing one room at a time. Beware of furniture too inexpensive to be true … it’s usually poorly made of inferior materials.

Decide on the look you want, which includes type of wood, finishes and fabrics. Then buy from a trustworthy source.

Be conscious of your lifestyle, and whether pets or young children are involved. Don’t buy on impulse and consider scale carefully.

Luis Corona, Allied Member ASID

Casa Del Encanto Interiors

I’M SHOPPING FOR FURNITURE right now after moving to a smaller space. I only kept what I loved from my old home. We lived in empty spaces for a while in our new home to experience what we really needed.

Consider what your seating needs will be, for yourself, your guests, for entertaining. We decided on a small sectional, a chaise and several chairs that have versatility to move from room to room. We have stone floors, so we’ll want fabric upholstery, area rugs or bound carpet pieces and fabric window coverings to help absorb sound.

Get ideas from magazines and the Internet, measure spaces before shopping, consider your color palette and then shop several stores. Be sure to sit on the sofas, move around in the chairs. If ordering custom, sit on a cushion with the fill you are ordering.

Most of us don’t make furniture changes that often, so we want to make great choices when we do.

Barbara Alpers, Allied Member ASID

The Window Dresser

MAKE A LIST before you head out to shop. I always list items needed to avoid impulse buying. This helps you avoid over spending your budget on an area rug when what you really need is a dining room table and chairs.

It’s a good idea to measure your room and doorways to ensure you don’t buy something that won’t fit when you get it home.

Keep a folder with styles and colors that appeal to your personal sense of style. Bring this with you when you shop as a reminder. It helps you decide what pieces will work well together.

If you are adding to existing furnishings, take along swatches of fabric and photos so you can complement what you’ve got. This gives your home a cozy, layered look that expresses your personal style.

Marcia Bryan, ASID

Bryan Design Group

WHEN YOU GO FURNITURE SHOPPING, pack a copy of the room’s floor plan, including wall lengths and positions of doors and windows. Know the ceiling height, as that is very important for scale.

Keep a general color scheme in mind and have paint chips and existing fabric swatches with you.

Bring along photos of rooms that you love for inspiration. Be open to different arrangements and un-usual accent pieces that you may come across.

I shop with a camera and take photos of a piece with my tape measure in it so when I get home I can refer to the dimensions of pieces that I’m interested in.

Lori Gentile

Lori Gentile Interior Design

SHOPPING FOR FURNITURE doesn’t need to be daunting, but instead should be fun. These tips can help you enjoy the process.

Make a decision as to what you’re looking for in terms of piece, size, scale, style and budget. These details will filter out 90 percent of the “stuff” that is distracting.

Do some research online to eliminate the showrooms that won’t fulfill your specific needs. Check out the online discount sites. Subscribe to receive notification of estate sales in your area. I find some of the most unique things at estate sales that give a space distinction and character.

Visit your favorite showrooms and retail outlets and introduce yourself. Tell them what you are looking for and you can be sure they WILL call you when they come across something that might work for you.

If you find yourself hesitating or trying to convince yourself about a piece, move on and forget it.

Do keep an open mind about a new idea for your space. The creative process is an organic one so allow change.

Kari Arendsen

Intimate Living Interiors

Categories: Home Design