Have you been furniture shopping lately? The experience may leave your mind swirling with the many choices you can make: Solid Wood, Upholstered, Leather, style and lifestyle ... all of these need to be considered when making your furniture choices.
When it comes to decorating your home or apartment, furniture can be a major expense with long-standing impact. It pays to think about what you need, what you want, and what your budget will allow.
Start with a list of your needs room by room. Perhaps you already have some pieces to coordinate with, or maybe you are starting from scratch. Or, are you replacing long-outdated, worn out furniture? Evaluate what your needs truly are. Basic seating? A place to sleep? A large table for the family to gather? Or do you have stacks of books and nowhere to place them? Then look at your space and your budget.
Take an honest look at what your needs are and make a list. It is much easier to prioritize from that written list than to wonder aimlessly into a furniture store and have no earthly idea what you are looking for.
The Top Five Things You Should Know ...
1. Get physical. Sit in it. Better furniture is usually more amply sized, more substantial and contains more raw material such as springs, frame, and cushion, and will be heavier than a lower quality piece.
2. Check the cushions. Neat well-defined corners or curves, securely attached buttons and unobtrusive seams are the marks of a quality cushion.
3. Look beneath the surface. See how the piece is constructed, looking for loose screws, padding not sewn correctly, or unprotected.
4. Consider the conditions. Choose the piece based on where it will be placed and how it will be used.
5. Measure the room and door openings before you begin your shopping experience. Draw a diagram showing the room size and locations of doors and windows. The location of a fireplace or television could also affect your furniture and should also be noted on your diagram.
After you've itemized your needs, browse through decorating magazines, catalogs and Web sites. Hone in on the style or styles you like. Again, advance consideration of the styles that appeal to you will greatly narrow your choices and aid you in finding the right styles for your home.
FURNITURE STYLE AND FABRIC CHOICES
Most furniture falls into one of two style categories, formal and informal or casual. Formal furniture includes such styles as Louis XIV, Chippendale and Queen Anne, originally created for royalty and the wealthy. Informal styles originated in the rural countryside, and were designed by local cabinetmakers. These would include Provincial, Early American and French Country. Each of these styles can be further refined into traditional or contemporary. Traditional styles are most identifiable by the Cabriole legs, claw and ball feet, lyre shaped backs and carved details. Woods tend to be walnut, cherry or teak, and fabrics usually include brocades, damask and silk. Oversized sofas and chairs with deep, fluffy cushions, and durable easy to maintain fabrics exemplify casual. Contemporary styles include Scandinavian, Modern and Oriental, with wood or laminate. They are identifiable by their sleek overall design elements.
Style if also defined by shape, color and texture and is reflected in accessories and floor and window coverings. Home furnishings should make a statement about out your attitude and lifestyle. No one style is perfect for every room or everyone, so buy furniture that you like, whatever your style. Recliners are the "ugly duckling that became a swan!" Recliners are better than ever; don't let a designer talk you out of them! True, there was a time when they were ugly, but not anymore!
Today more than ever upholstered furniture is available in a wide range of styles and fabrics. To be a good buy for you, upholstery must be: Priced right. Colored right. Sit right. Right for the room and right for your family. There is also leather to be considered. Leather is a natural product. Good leather will rarely wear out; but it will change in appearance from week to week. Many people love the natural coverings that change with wear and tear. But you better be clear in your mind with what you can live with when it comes to today's leather. New methods of tanning and manufacturing also have brought leather into an affordable range for many pocketbooks.
So, now you know what piece or pieces you want and have pinpointed some basic styles that feel "right" for you. It is time to target a budget and begin to furniture shop. As you can imagine, prices vary widely, and are often tied to the quality of the piece. Finding good furniture that works for you involves understanding how pieces are made and then deciding if the quality of the piece will bear up in day-to-day use. Whatever your style, furniture should be comfortable, practical and reflect your tastes.
The most obvious place to look is in your local furniture stores. However, don't forget estate sales, auctions and consignment stores.
Some furniture stores in your area offer complimentary in-home design services to aid you in your decorating choices. When you are ready to start out on your furniture hunt, remember to assess your needs, set your priorities, narrow down the styles you are looking for, target a budget and then enjoy your search for the "perfect" pieces to complement your home. Remember, when acquiring furniture buy only what you love!
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