THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF BUYING FURNITURE – In the beginning there was nothing, then man said ‘let there be light’ and – after a quick light bulb change – there was light. Next, man wanted to decorate his home in his own image, so man sought to furnish his home with beautiful items he could cherish for all time; these were the 10 furniture buying commandments he followed… and it was good. Stylishly good.
Photo by: Frederic Poirot
Thou shalt not pay too much for furniture
Buying furniture is expensive enough without you being ripped off in the process. Avoid ‘buy now, pay later’ finance schemes, as you may end up paying very high interest rates on purchases if you cannot afford to pay the lump sum at a later date. Consider buying second hand furnishings instead and learn to haggle. Many furniture stores will allow a 10% discount if you ask and if you are buying more than one piece, it’s possible to get even more money off. Alternatively you may even want to consider renting furniture as a quick fix solution.
Thou shalt honour the dimensions of your space
Do not forget to measure the space you have available for your furniture item (this includes doorways and hallway widths – it’s no good having a huge room if you can’t fit your purchase through the front door to get it there!) if you intend to buy a large item that will be moved as a whole. Compare the dimensions of your chosen item to your existing furniture, as a large scale item might look out of place.
Thou shalt not worship passing fads
Furniture should be a more permanent purchase than say a rug or vase. Don’t try to follow fashion and buy the ‘in’ sofa if you’re on a tight budget. You may find that what looked good five years ago will look terribly dated now. Use accessories, fabrics and paints as a method of updating your décor, and if in doubt opt for classic, timeless styles when it comes to expensive purchases.
Thou shalt be comfy
Comfort is factor that should never be ignored when it comes to buying furniture. Some pieces look stunning on the pages of interior-design magazines, but remember you have to live with it day in, day out, for years and years, so will stunning good looks really be enough to make up for the fact that metal chair is just so uncomfortable compared to a squishy sofa? Do test the item on the shop floor for a good few minutes before you part with your cash!
Thou shalt not covet false furniture
Cheap furniture made from veneered MDF, rather than solid wood, can be a great option for storage pieces like bookcases and wardrobes which you’ll likely need to upgrade as your family grows or you just buy more stuff. These items will be significantly cheaper than the real thing; therefore you will not feel so attached to these items when your storage needs change.
Thou shalt check the return policy
Always check the return policy before you buy an item of furniture. Many stores should offer around 30 days but some stores can offer up to 90 days to return items. If you are buying from an online retailer make sure you read customer reviews so you get an idea of the service, and be wary of re-stocking and shipping fees – sometimes they can be as high as 15% of the total cost of the order, which could work out as a pretty hefty ‘fine’ if you decide that 8-seater dining set just isn’t right for you.
Thou shalt consider your delivery options
Most stores have options when it comes to getting your furniture home; sometimes it’s free to deliver to your door, but bear in mind that shipping costs may have been already included in the price of the item. You can also pay to have the item assembled for you but this is usually quite expensive when you could, just as easily, get a friend to help you put it together.
Thou shalt not take false evidence from your salesman
Don’t be afraid to consult with the salesman before you purchase an item. While they are there to try and make a sale off of you, they can also offer expert advice and options that you may not have considered before. It is always best to approach them when the store is quiet, so you get their full attention. If they ask for your budget, be vague – if you tell them you can spend up to £1000 they’ll likely only show you pieces costing £900 and up, whilst a piece on sale for £500 might suit your needs perfectly – furniture salespeople often earn on commission after all!
Thou shalt examine the quality of the furniture
If, for example, you’re investing in a stylish dining set that you need to stand the test of time, take a look at the quality of the piece before you buy. Take note of the type of wood used, the piece’s construction and the surface finish. Hardwoods like mahogany and oak are low maintenance and hard–wearing, where as soft woods like pine may need to be re-varnished from time to time and have a tendency scratch and dent easily. Look out for how the piece was constructed, identify mortise and tenon and dovetail joints as a sign that the item is well made and don’t forget to jostle the item a bit; a solidly built furniture item will not wobble!
When it comes to finish, make sure that there are no splinters or rough areas on the surface and check the quality of the varnish application – there should be no visible drops of varnish collected on edges and corners.
Thou shalt compare prices
Very few retailers sell unique items (unless you’re buying second hand) so make sure you check the price of your desired item against the rest of the market. Many shops get their stock from the same warehouses or manufacturers, but can put wildly different price tags on the finished piece! Careful research can potentially save you hundreds of pounds. Make sure you account for tax, shipping and return fees, to make sure you are actually getting the best deal out there.
What other tips do you have for buying furniture? Comments below…