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A Buying Guide to Living Room Furniture

Consider Furnishing Style, What You Can Afford, and the Size of the Pieces

© 2012 by Clare Jackson all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without Webmaster’s written permission.

Living Room Furniture; photo courtesy Clare Jackson

This article was updated on 01/21/19. Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Picking brand-new furniture for the family room can be quite a challenging task. We asked Clare, from The Wooden Furniture Store for some easy suggestions to find the ideal design and style for your particular living area.

Understanding Your Personal Style

Sounds like a strange one to start with — after all, everyone knows their own style, right? Well, this can often be the problem, particularly when you’re looking for new ideas — are you just too stuck in your ways to think differently? Ask yourself, when it comes to style, who else is involved? Married couples should communicate about this decision.

If the reason for purchasing new furniture in the first place was to give a lift to an old room, then how do you find new ideas and inspirations?

A speedy search in the shops or on the internet will confirm whether or not your preference is for conventional strong maple pieces, warm and friendly oak, or sleek, pristine white colored furniture to adorn the room in question. If you have eclectic tastes your decisions will be more free-wheeling.

If you are beginning with a completely blank canvas (and if you are, that’s an ideal place to start as you don’t have to worry about matching your new pieces to any existing style), then purchasing matching furniture sets makes an immediate statement.

However, for many of us we find ourselves in the situation of supplementing what we currently have. In that case, think about choosing pieces of comparable shades or material and allow the form of your existing furniture help guide you in your planning. In one sense, this simplifies things enormously.

If you are working within a strict budget, figure out which pieces of furniture would be of most importance to you, and invest in those first.

This way you can add to your living area as time passes without feeling like you are missing any vital pieces, and this step-by-step approach will ensure you don’t blow the budget straight away like a kid in the candy store.

You can also grow into your new room and furnishings over an extended period as you gradually furnish your surroundings over time.

Get Ready Ahead of Time — Careful Planning is Everything!

Planning is a crucial component when selecting furniture. If you don’t prepare or plan before you buy you may end up buying furnishings that are too large or too small, or simply don’t compliment your surroundings. For example, if you have a tile floor be sure the colors don’t clash in a disturbing fashion.

It’s also important to get the correct quantity of furniture for the space, or it might wind up looking too barren and empty, or at the other extreme, too cluttered and confusing.

A great way to avoid this situation is to create paper templates — a really simple way to help you check the new layout of your space. This is likely to reveal to you (very quickly and at virtually zero cost) if you’ve gauged the overall dimensions of the room and items within it correctly or not. Some furniture stores will even supply these materials.

You don’t want an excessive amount of floor space, and equally, don’t over-compensate and clutter the living space with too much — after all, you need enough room to navigate around your living area without bumping into anything!

If the pieces are too big the room is swamped and too small and you won’t have enough storage options. Basically, you should aim at finding a happy middle ground.

Storage is a big issue as it helps maximize the space that you do (or more to the point, don’t) — have. Purchasing items that contain sufficient storage is key; look for coffee tables with drawers, media storage units and open shelved bookcases to add warmth to the room, and try to incorporate built-in cupboards where possible to hide your clutter.

Also consider co-ordinated pieces that can be added to as your needs change or you have more space.

Avoid the Classic Mistake — I’ve Bought it, Now Will it Fit?

Rather obvious I know, and forgive me for stating it, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to realize that size and proportion are crucial when shopping for furnishings — not just the location in which you plan to display the item, but its route from the front door into your chosen room.

Don’t forget to check the fit ahead of buying something — take a look at all the dimensions and check that your newly purchased furniture will squeeze through those narrow corridors and doors. Remember that older homes tend to have more constricted hallways and stairs. Some modern furniture just does not play nice with these spaces.

Will you be able to get that amazing new mahogany wardrobe around that stair-well? You don’t want to have to take the first floor windows out (compromising your home security just to get that new bed frame in, now do you?

What Else Should I Look For?

Furniture ought to remain securely on its feet and never shake or rock. Make certain that doors hang evenly and the wood color matches across the item. Examine the construction, what joints have been used? Is it hardwood or cheap particle board?

Of course, if eco-credentials are fundamental to you (and we really think everyone should think about this when purchasing furniture), check for the Forest Stewardship Council FSC mark on furniture that certifies that the wood used comes from a renewable source.

Then, have a think about the store that’s providing you the item — ask about guarantees, shipping times, charges, returns and if you plan to buy further items from the matching set at a later time will it still be available?

If you plan your new room space carefully, do your research and buy quality pieces you can be sure to have the living room of your dreams. I hope you found this furniture buying guide helpful. If so, please pass it along to your friends. Comments or ideas? Add them in the comment section below. Thanks for visiting.

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About the Webmaster:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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