One question that I receive from clients over and over again is “How do I choose the right sized furniture or décor for my home?” A great question and one that carries a lot of explanation. Designers have rough formulas that they use to assist with their selections, but they also rely heavily on their trained eye and experience to make choices. I’ll focus on some of these design formulas in a later post. For now, I’d like to give you the basic tools you’ll need when shopping for your home furnishings and décor.
The average homeowner obviously doesn’t have to shop or buy furniture as often as a designer does, so it’s only natural that homeowners get frustrated. I consistently see homeowners make the same four mistakes, so I’ve put together a “mistake list”….and ways to combat them!
YOU DON’T TAKE MEASUREMENTS
Draw a simple sketch of your room, including windows, doorways and any other architectural details, like crown molding or fireplaces. Make sure to measure hallways, exterior doors, etc. to make sure all items will fit into your house. You should NEVER shop for furniture without a complete set of measurements.
YOU DON’T CONSIDER SCALE
Although overstuffed furnishings are still readily available, there are few rooms that can handle such scale. Take detailed measurements of all furnishings/décor that you are considering then grab some masking tape and a measuring tape and literally tape out the size of your potential furnishings onto the floor. This will give you great perspective on how the piece will look in the room. If you have more than one option, use different colored masking tapes and try them all at once.
YOU GO FOR TRENDY ITEMS
We all know what happened to red and gold shag carpets and macramé….don’t make the mistake of buying items, especially furniture, that will look outdated and passé in just a year’s time. Carefully consider color and pattern, quality of construction, and lasting appeal. A classic sofa with tailored arms and a subtle pattern will gracefully sustain through years of trends.
YOU BUY THE FIRST THING YOU SEE
Nothing is worse than buying the first thing you find! I’ve seen clients buy something because it’s on sale or because the color works without shopping around at all! When shopping for furniture, you should select several options and take them apart in the store…..look at the construction, ask questions about the brand quality, feel the springs and look at how the fabric is sewn…..every detail counts. And I don’t care how ridiculous it feels, you have to test drive a sofa, chair, and bed – lie down, put your feet up, bounce on the springs – treat it the same way it will be treated in your home!
So now that you know what NOT to do, how do you get started?
SET A BUDGET
You’ll want to allocate a decent budget for large furniture items or serious focal point décor (i.e. the family room sofa or stunning art piece above the fireplace). You can bargain shop a bit for other items, like side table, lamps, or bookcase décor.
The cheapest stores are cheap for a reason…..the pieces are of poor quality and will most likely not last more than a year or two. This might be okay for a boy’s college apartment, but never for your home. Stores that carry both mid and high range prices should be your starting point.
CHOOSE SEVERAL OPTIONS
Narrow down your choices to two or three and then take a few days to mull over the measurements/colors/styles in your home. For furnishings – ALWAYS ask for fabric samples that can be taken home. For décor (like art/mirrors or lamps), ask the store if you can try items at home for a day or two before you buy.
CONSIDER MULTI-FUNCTIONAL PIECES
An ottoman that can double as blanket or toy storage, nesting tables that can be easily moved about the room, storage boxes that can hold remote controls….any item that can give you dual purpose are a great thing!
Furniture and décor shopping should be a fun and exciting experience, not a daunting task. I’ll post more on furniture and décor guidelines soon, with tips on how to select perfectly scaled items for every room in the house to make you next furniture shopping trip a breeze!