If you are planning on moving into your new house or apartment, you're probably thinking of the many possible furniture items you could fill the space (or lack of!) with. However, when you take out your pocketbook, your imagination clashes with reality, your options seem limited and that dream bedroom furniture seems much farther away. There are a few key things to consider when shopping for furniture that could save you a number of headaches, as well as thousands of dollars, over the years.
You want to avoid buying cheaply made furniture that will only have to be replaced every few years. Over time, these will cost you even more than a one-time purchase of a quality, affordable set which is ultimately more attractive than the cheaper pressboard sets at discount stores. You also don't have to worry about them falling to pieces as you move from one place to another some day (we've all had to re-create our own makeshift screw holes in those cheap sets at some point, haven't we?).
There are a few situations that most of us let ourselves fall into which we should really be avoiding. These include:
- Rent-to-own: These companies prey on those of us with no or bad credit history or not enough cash for an upfront purchase. At first it may see that paying "only" twenty bucks a week for the next year or so for that couch but after adding up the totals, you'll see that you're paying at least twice the fair retail value of the piece.
- Settling: Avoid settling for the cheap stuff. It's abundant, it's affordable and it seems like a good idea at the time. Pressboard won't last long, won't survive a move in it's original condition (no matter how hard you try) and usually, well, looks like a cheap piece of furniture.
- Buying Too Much: It's good to plan ahead and buy either only what you need now and/or what you know you'll want for certain in the future. It's a good idea to purchase what you can now since matching pieces may be discontinued and difficult to track down in the future, possibly matched with additional shipping charges. At the same time, don't purchase a gigantic set you don't need or want simply because it's available or on discount. Shopping for new dining room furniture? Then focus on just the dining room set for now, don't get distracted.
Once you've decided to avoid the above furniture shopping mistakes, you can begin your search for quality, affordable furniture. Be prepared to spend some time on this project; plan ahead and shop around. If possible, start months in advance. If you don't have that much time, try getting only the things you need to live, adding items only when you've found what you really want. Remember, you may be buying the furniture you will pass on to your children someday.
Begin shopping through online furniture stores, no sense driving around the city to view one third of what you could view in half the time at home. Online furniture stores will have the widest selection, detailed images and descriptions of each furniture set you take a look at (answering questions that you won't have to ask a pushy salesperson). Most website's pricing will also be much cheaper due to lower overhead, since most online furniture stores buy manufacturer-direct like Powell furniture or in bulk quantities. Shopping online first will also give you a better idea of what styles you'll be deciding on. Call each website you would consider buying from and get some questions answered by a real person, customer service is key in online sales and you want to be spending your hard earned cash with a company you trust, right? Get detailed information about their policies (shipping, returns, etc) and if you get the something-isn't-right feeling, go with your gut and try somewhere else.
Try to find a factory-direct store, these usually offer quality furniture at discounted prices. In many cases, you'll have a fairly large selection with plenty in stock. Compare these outlets to other stores as well, don't assume being in a factory-direct store means you'll save money. Be sure to mention you've been shopping online, this tells them you've already seen a very large variety and very reasonable prices. Use your camera phone to take pictures of pieces you like and compare Store A to Store B. Keep good track of pricing and ask about additional fees like delivery charges.
If you're handy and would consider finishing or painting your own furniture set, consider shopping at an unfinished-furniture outlet. These are also sometimes called "naked furniture stores." Either way, you'll get chairs, tables, and other hardwood furniture with everything but the finish. This adds a personalized touch to your new home, and gives the furniture an added sentimental value because you finished it yourself.
If you'd consider buying pre-owned furniture, estate sales, small furniture outlets and even garage sales are often great places to find furniture that's been cherished and well-kept. Check the local classified or online ads for announcements, you never know when or where you'll find your perfect piece of furniture for mere pennies! Tip: make sure that used furniture is in good, or at least acceptable, condition before you buy. Unless you're capable of refinishing or refurbishing a piece of furniture, you should look for items that require little, if any, work. There are probably dozens of businesses in your area that specialize in reparing damaged loveseats, chairs, and sofas, shop around and see, it might be worth it!
Keep your eyes and ears open for sales, liquidations, and other discount furniture. Sometimes furniture dealers will have going-out-of-business liquidations, which means you'll get their best pieces for much less than the usual retail price. Online furniture websites will almost always have a "Specials" section or a "Scratch & Dent" discount area for pieces with minor damages from shipping damage.
If you live near a military installation or any other place where people frequently move, pay attention: if people are transferred halfway across the country, they're more likely to sell all of their furniture and buy new stuff than pay to have it moved that far. If you have the cash, you can usually come up with some nice things.
Find someone with a pickup to help you move your new furniture. This is especially true if you're buying from a seller who will charge extra for delivery. You can also rent a pickup for a day through a moving-van company. You can usually get one for less than thirty bucks, which could be cheaper than all the delivery charges, not to mention the waiting time for those delivery guys to show up.
Inherit from parents and other relatives. If Mom and Dad are replacing their old living room set anyway, you might as well ask if you can take the old pieces with you. It might not be your favorite couch in the world, but you're familiar with its history, the price is right, and your butt-groove has already been formed in at least one of its cushions. Besides, this frees up more money for you to spend on other things. If you buy or inherit an upholstered piece such as a couch or loveseat, be sure to use upholstery cleaner, then follow-up with a sealing spray when it's dry. Many furniture stores will sell you professional-grade spray that's guaranteed to prevent stains for a year or longer: a small price to pay for all the time you won't spend cleaning and scrubbing!
Finally, spread the word about what you're looking to buy. If five of your friends know that you need a coffee table, you're that much more likely to find something cheap. You might get a phone call from your best friend from Goodwill, or your mother about a going-out-of-business furniture dealer. Be prepared to wait, you might not find anything for a few weeks at a time. Keep trying, though, and find a way of thanking your friends and family for all their help. Inviting them over for dinner one night in your new home is usually a good way to do it, everyone will enjoy telling the backstory to every piece of new furniture you have!
There are many ways to attack a need for furniture. You can be pressed for time, short on funds or just realizing after reading this article that you might need some! We're here to help with any questions you may have, please do not hesitate to call us toll free at (866) 595-8930 or hop on our Live Chat anytime!