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Guide to Buying Furniture

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Before buying furniture, you should know how to find the best match for your needs. Every piece of furniture has certain elements or features that determine whether or not it is a good fit.

There are some general rules that apply to all furniture purchases, but sometimes you have to consider more specific parameters. And let's face it, furniture is such an investment that understanding how and what to buy makes sense. Otherwise, the process can become confusing, intimidating and ultimately frustrating.

Some buying basics about different pieces of furniture can come in handy. Take a look:

1. Before You Buy a Sofa

Photo (c) Klaussner

A sofa is one of the most important furniture purchases for your home, so before you buy a sofa make sure you are getting one that fits your needs.

A sofa that is perfect for your living room could be a terrible idea for your family room. First figure out how you want to use your sofa and who will be using it. Determine whether your sofa is a good fit for your space, and since there are sofas to fit any style of room, look for one that satisfies your own personal sense of style. The fabric you select for your sofa contributes immensely to its usability and beauty.

Just as when you buy any furniture, you should be confident that you are buying the best quality sofa for your budget, and that it offers you the comfort you need from it.

2. Before You Buy a Sleeper Sofa

Photo (c) Neiman Marcus

A sleeper sofa is a great multifunctional piece of furniture with the potential to turn any room into a bedroom. You can fit a sleeper sofa in so many places - a child's room, an office or even an appropriately sized alcove.

Almost any sofa can be bought as a sleeper sofa, and sleeper sofas come in all sizes. If you only have room for a twin bed, find one in a chair. A slightly bigger room might be able to accommodate a full-size sleeper sofa, which could function as loveseat when not in use for sleeping. A sofa that seats three people easily can be transformed into a queen-sized bed.

Buy furniture that functions both as comfortable seating and a comfortable bed in any size, and what's more many sleeper sofas come with hidden storage.

3. Before You Buy a Futon

Futon, West Elm
Photo (c) West Elm

Futons started out as simple mattresses in Japan that could be rolled up and stored away during the day. Futons still retain that sense of flexibility, but the word "futon" now also alludes to the metal or wood frame that supports the mattress.

We usually don't roll up and put away the mattress pad any more, but we can choose from different sizes and styles that are only dictated by our needs and preferences. And we can always choose from different positions, so that they can perform double duty as beds or seating.

4. Before You Buy a Bed

Photo (c) Vaughan-Bassett

Before you buy a bed, you should know that a comfortable bed is a piece of furniture that is essential to getting a good night's sleep. But beds also go beyond that function by providing a focal point for your bed room. So look beyond comfort alone to find a bed that is in a style that you like.

Beds are available in all styles, sizes and heights. You can go for a simple uncluttered look, or buy an elaborately carved bed.

In addition to buying a bed for yourself, you may also want to buy a suitable bed for a child or a guest. Sometimes, you may be short on space. But there are plenty of choices for all kinds of beds, such as bunkbeds, toddler beds, daybeds, or even regular beds in twin, full, queen or king sizes depending on your needs.

5. Before You Buy Bunk Beds

Berg Furniture Sierra Collection Captains Bunk Bed
Photo (c) Berg Furniture

Before you buy a bunk bed, you need to determine what you and your child will be happy with. Since bunk beds are recommended for children older than five, chances are your child has a lot of input about the style.

But of course, you're the one who has to measure the space, look for all the safety features, and find the most efficient bunk bed for your needs.

6. Before You Buy an Office Chair

Photo (c) Herman Miller

What should you look for before you buy an office chair? An office chair is a piece of furniture that is a sound investment for anyone who spends long hours at a desk.

Before you buy an office chair, check to see if the backrests, seat, and armrests are adjustable. You should be able to adjust the seat height and tilt of your office chair to your own preferences, and ideally the seat should be comfortable enough to support you comfortably, while letting your body breathe. The most important feature to look for is good lumbar support, as an office chair with a good lumbar support lets your back stay in a position that is good for its spine health.

7. Before You Before You Buy a Dining Chair

Photo (c) Century Furniture

A dining room chair has to be stylish and comfortable. You don't just sit down to eat and then leave. Chances are you and your family spend a lot of time around the dining table doing different tasks such as homework, paying bills, or even sitting down and chatting.

The kind of dining chair you buy depends on many things such as the size of your room, how you use it, your style, etc.

8. Before You Buy a Home Entertainment Center

Photo (c) Century Furniture

Home entertainment centers come in all different shapes and sizes. With the changing look of today's televisions, entertainment centers have evolved, too.

You have the choice of buying an entertainment center that completely conceals your equipment or buying one that displays it. If you need a place to organize all your media as well as equipment, you can find entertainment centers that offer plenty of efficient built-in storage.

You should always judge for quality because you are storing expensive and fragile equipment in it. Additionally make sure you are buying an entertainment center that complies with tip-over rules, and lets your equipment breathe to prevent heat buildup.

9. Before You Buy a Table Lamp

Photo (c) Shady Lady

Before you buy a table lamp, determine what kind you need. A table lamp is a furniture accessory that can add so much to a room besides light.

Since table lamps come in all shapes, sizes and styles, they can enable you to dress up a room in style. You can choose a table lamp for its decorative value, as much as for the light it provides. A tall table can be a major source of light in a room, as the taller a lamp the greater its area of illumination. Smaller table lamps can be used accent lighting.

Another wonderful thing about table lamps is that you can change the look of a lamp by the style of shade you choose. And remember, the bulb and wattage you pick should be appropriate for the function and type of your table lamp.

10. Before You Buy a Coffee able

XELA Coffee Table
Photo (c) BDI

Before you buy a coffee table you should ask some yourself how you want the table to function. While a coffee table often ends up being the focal point in a room, it does have other functions than simply looking good.

Also, since there is a great variety in materials, you should pick one that best fits your needs. For instance, you most likely don't want a glass coffee table when you have toddlers. You wouldn't want an easily destructible surface or finish either. Before you buy your coffee table, you also have to pick shape and size.

And there are always alternatives to conventional coffee tables, such as ottomans.

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