Furniture shopping can be a confusing, mystifying, misadventure for far too many shoppers; but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation and understanding of the market, your next trip can be pain free (or at least, less painful).
1. Measure: This one may seem obvious, but it is all too often forgotten. Whenever you find yourself thinking that you need a new X, Y, or Z for your space, get out the measuring tape and jot that information down, or better yet, plug it into your phone. This way, you have the information on hand for the next time you are out.
2. Take Photos: The staff at most furniture stores are excited to help you and are often designers themselves. Having that visual on hand will help them, help you, find out not only if it will physically fit, but also if it will be a cohesive look with all things considered (scale, texture, coloring, and so on).
3. Find out what your spouse/partner/roommate wants: One of the biggest issues you will run into while shopping is finding out that you and your partner want different things (in design, that is).
Let’s say that you want to fill a hole in your living room; you have decided that a blue velvet sofa would be perfection, but your loved one thinks that black leather chairs are the better choice… This is the type of information that is best learned outside of the store.
Before you step in the door, be sure that you and your partner have had a talk about what direction you are going in, as well as where you both are, and are not, willing to budge. Certainly you can’t know everything before you go shopping, but it’s good to have an idea of what you’re getting into.
4. Know that it will take a few trips: Very rarely will you walk into a furniture store, see the exact piece you want, and take it home that day. In general, you will come in, check out samples and/or products, take them home, see how they look, come back, check out new samples, and repeat. Then, once you have worked through this process a couple times, you will be ready to place an order.
5. Understand lead times: Good things come to those who wait, and I’d add that the right things come to those who wait. The right size, the right finish; you want to get-it-right. Furniture is an investment that has the ability to transform how live and work, and it is important to be precise. So be sure that you shop with the knowledge that all lines have lead times, ranging anywhere from two weeks to six months.
Tip: If you are on a time crunch, ask the sales people what their lead times are and they can direct you to only the products within your timeline.
6. Get comfortable: Shopping for the right thing takes time, there really is no way around it. As I’ve mentioned, quality furniture is an investment (an investment worth making) and it will take effort to learn about the products and then select what is right for you. So slip on your best kicks and get ready to do a lot of standing, sitting, walking, and talking.
7. Feed yourself: Do not shop on an empty stomach. It only leads to unhappy decisions made by unhappy shoppers. Need I say more?
One final bit of advice: once you do get into the store, ask questions. The staff is there because they enjoy designing spaces and want to help you. They will gladly educate you on the lines and are generally excited to learn about your specific needs. Look at the staff as your crew of problem-solvers; they do this all day, every day, and they are experts. So let them, help you, make the perfect selection to fit your needs.
If you are looking for somewhere to have your next furniture shopping trip, be sure to visit me at Hip Furniture, here in Portland.