In the market for a new sofa, table, or chairs? Try these tips for finding what you want.
Furniture Shopping (PROMO IMAGE)
In the market for a new sofa, table, or chairs? Try these tips for finding what you want.
| Credit: Gary Clark

Know Your Options
Before you set foot in a store, use the Internet to do some research. You can usually go to a manufacturer's Web site to see some, if not all, of their products. Dimensions of each item are often available, and you can also order catalogs from many sites. If you find a piece you like, search the same site for a store in your area that carries that line of furniture. Go to the store, and evaluate the quality of the line in which you're interested. You'll feel more comfortable about ordering the piece if you've seen it in person first.

Getting Inspired
Better furniture stores put a lot of effort into creating fully decorated room vignettes. These coordinated settings are designed to show the merchandise at its best, and they help you visualize how a piece could look in your home. As you make your way through the showroom, take note of background colors and how pieces are arranged. Ask yourself: "Are there elements in this grouping that would work in my home?" and "What can I learn from this room setting?" While you might not find the perfect table and chairs, you could discover the ideal shade of apricot for your walls.

You'll often pick up some creative ideas for using furniture and accessories when you visit a showroom. Maybe you see how an oversize mirror can add depth to a space. Or you could gather ideas for items to arrange above a new sofa once you get it home. Armless chairs placed side by side might suggest an interesting alternative to a love seat.

Just be sure to keep the size and scale of your rooms in mind. Furniture showrooms are usually large and spacious, and the sofa that appears to be an appropriate size at the store might be entirely too big for your sunporch.

Shop Talk
If you can't find the item you need on the showroom floor, consider placing an order. Always consult a knowledgeable salesperson who can help you explore the range of available options. For example, you can often change the style of an arm on a sofa or specify a different style of skirt or have no skirt at all. Several finishes are usually available for exposed wooden legs, so ask to see those samples.

Showrooms usually stock fabric samples for the different lines they carry. This often means dozens of colors, patterns, and textures from which to choose. You can usually check out samples or borrow a matching pillow for a day or two. This allows you to live with the new look for a while, so you can decide if it's right for you. Keep in mind that fabric can appear to change color under various lighting conditions and at different times of day.

Keep Your Furniture Looking New

  • Once you've bought a special piece, follow these suggestions for keeping it in its original condition.
  • Keep your furniture out of direct sunlight, which can fade both fabric and wood.
  • Ordinary household dust can dull a wood finish and create wear and tear on fibers. Dust regularly, and vacuum upholstery often to avoid dust build-up.
  • Prevent damage to surfaces by using coasters under glasses; make sure that tabletop accessories have felt applied underneath. Don't place newspapers on wooden surfaces because the ink can transfer to the finish.