Tuesday Tips: Buying Furniture
If you were to take a look around my house, you'd find furniture that has been handed down by parents and grandparents, a few cheap pieces my husband and I have bought over the years and even a few throwbacks to college. You'll also find my husband's favorite piece of furniture in the whole house -- his metal Redskins trash can. We've made these furniture pieces work in our home because well... furniture buying is scary and expensive. Since we'll have to grow up one day, I asked Annette Hannon, an interior designer based in Burke, for tips on buying furniture and maybe a new trash can. (Sorry honey. The Redskins trash can has got to go.)
Tip #1: So you've finally decided to replace that couch -- the one with stains from every meal and glass of wine consumed in the last five years. Before heading out to the store, think about what function a new couch or any other large piece of furniture will serve. Ask yourself if it's going to be something that you and your family sit on everyday or is it going to be a dining room set that you use once or twice a year. That will help you make decisions on things like fabric and durability. For example, Hannon says ultrasuede fabric is great for people with kids and pets.
Tip #2: Whether you live in a McMansion or a small townhouse, make sure the furniture isn't too big or small for your house. "The ceilings in stores are 11 feet tall," says Hannon. "You have to take the dimensions down and make sure that they'll fit in your space."
Tip #3: One way to cushion (no pun intended) the blow to your wallet when buying furniture is to see if your favorite manufacturer or retailer is having any sales. Many run annual or semi-annual sales in the spring and fall. Larger retailers and higher-end retailers hold sales in January through March and then again in September through October, according to Hannon. "It used to be a big secret when they'd run their sales. Not so much anymore," she explains. "Don't be ashamed to ask."
Tip #4: Buy the furniture staple pieces like side tables and throw rugs at places like Target and Ikea, and fork out the bigger bucks on the large pieces like couches and dining room tables at higher-end furniture stores.
Tip #5: Don't turn up your nose at consignment stores and yard sales. If you can see a vision beyond that 1970s fabric or some bumps and bruises, you can find some good deals. Some things can be upholstered, restored or painted for a cheaper price than buying a whole new piece. Just make sure the item you're buying is in good shape.
Tip #6: When buying wood furniture pieces, ask what kind of wood was used. You want to look for pieces made from hard woods like oak, walnut or cherry. A weaker wood such as teak will split easily, especially in a four-season climate like Washington, Hannon explains.
Tip #7: When trying to decide whether to refinish Aunt May's handed-down dining room table or shell out the money for a brand new set, think about sentimental value. "If the lines aren't great and you've never really liked the arms, buy something new," Hannon says. "Don't go through the trouble of finding the fabric. The springs and the frame are probably better in a new piece too."
Tip #8: Many retailers and manufacturers sell their furniture in collections, but don't be afraid to mix and match pieces from different collections. Just make sure a few pieces in the room match, such as side tables or a set of arm chairs. Hannon says even one antique piece in the room can add a nice touch.
Here's where Hannon likes to shop for furniture:
Do you have tips for buying furniture? What are some of your favorite furniture stores? Post a comment below.
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