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7 Tips for Buying Furniture

Looking for new furniture? Want to refresh your favorite room but you’re not sure how or where to start? By following the buying tips below and doing a little bit of research up front, you can find stylish pieces while saving significant time and money.

1. Decide which styles to consider. Before you start shopping in stores, browse furniture online and determine which styles you like and don’t like. “How can I help you?” or “What are you looking for?” will be one of the first questions a designer or salesperson asks, so be prepared with an answer.

Some factors to consider: Do you want to stay with that same style of furniture you have now? Do you prefer casual or formal furniture? Wood or metal frames? Leather or fabric upholstery? Solid colors or patterned fabrics? Contemporary or traditional styling, or something else entirely? Determining your style preferences before comparative price shopping helps avoid wandering aimlessly through furniture stores.

2. Measure—and measure again. One consistent piece of advice is to always measure the room you are shopping for. Capture the overall dimensions of the room you’re working with—the height of the ceiling, location and dimensions of doorways and windows, and size of your current furniture. This way, when you find that perfect item you’ll be confident it will fit. It can also be helpful to note the location of electrical outlets, especially when planning placement of lamps, end tables and television or audio equipment.

3. Use a furniture shopping app. There are several free or inexpensive apps available online to help you quickly plan a room’s layout and design. The apps can ensure sufficient space remains so that you can still walk around the furniture, allow for recliners to recline, and not block air vents.

Some apps use augmented reality to provide a realistic view of what a piece will look like in your room. These apps are very useful, as they enable you to quickly “move” the furniture around, enabling you to experiment with different arrangements.

“Seeing” what the room would look like with the furniture in it beforehand can help avoid making purchases you’ll later regret. Most major furniture retailers provide a similar app on their websites, while other apps are independent of retailers but contain convenient links to their online stores.

4. Comparison price shop and material shop online before visiting brick-and-mortar. Begin by exploring furniture options online, even if you intend to shop in local stores. You’ll be able to quickly compare price points and determine a budget. It will also help determine how much time you will need to save money before buying or which payment and credit plans to consider. If you find a piece you like, you can quickly find the lowest cost online and use that as bargaining leverage if you prefer to shop locally.

Online resources also provide useful customer reviews of the furniture’s durability, as well as the customer service provided by local furniture stores. Independent and customer reviews for manufacturers and sellers often contain information regarding materials used, warranties and where the furniture was manufactured—information not always readily available in stores.

5. Investigate furniture quality and materials. Researching and understanding the materials used is necessary to assess the quality of the furniture, and avoid known allergens. Is the shelf or table made from solid or pressed wood? Were flame retardant chemicals used in the chair or couch? Is that real or imitation leather? Does the furniture use metal hardware, or glued joints? Is the wood frame made from hard or soft wood? Knowing these details can help you identify quality pieces and avoid costly mistakes.

How can you identify furniture that is made to last? Here are some guidelines to remember when looking for quality furniture:

Choose solid wood over particleboard or veneers.
Look for items that contain dowels or screws rather than nails and glue.
Assess the quality of furniture with springs by feeling how close together they are. Closer is better.
Know that reversible couch cushions and cushions with coils last longer than those without.
Check upholstery seams to see how they align. Sloppy seam alignment indicates poor workmanship and a lack of attention to detail.

6. Ask for swatches and samples. Whether you’re buying a couch, recliner, cushions, love seat or dining chairs; always ask for swatches and samples. Then take them home to see how they compare to your existing furniture, carpet, wallpaper or paint, curtains and other décor before making a final decision.

7. Know your budget, look for deals. How much do you plan to spend on this purchase? If the furniture you really want is out of reach, determine how much additional time you will need to save money before buying, or which payment and credit plans to consider. You may want to explore Tower’s Personal Line of Credit, a Home Equity Line of Credit, a home improvement loan, or low interest credit card with rewards.

Here are a few tips for getting the best deals on furniture for your home:

Pay attention to seasonal sales cycles. For example, mid-winter may be a good time to find deals as stores mark down last year’s models while summer offers sales opportunities from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Shop secondhand. Facebook Marketplace, online bargain groups, Craigslist, thrift stores, flea markets, antique shops and consignment stores are all great places to look for furniture and other home goods at discounted prices.

Be wary of opening store credit cards. Furniture stores often entice customers to shop by offering a 0% deferred interest credit card, but then the interest rate jumps sky high after a certain period. Read and fully understand all the terms before taking this step. Better yet, get a Tower World Card and earn points on all purchases, redeemable for cash or other rewards.

Now that you know where to start and how to focus your time and energy you’re better prepared to research and shop for furniture. Enjoy the process knowing the upfront time investment saves time and money. Get it, bring it!

Resources: Circle Furniture, Furniture Academy, Extra Space Storage™, Lifehacker.com, TheBalance.com, The Franklin Institute