The MacGowan Agency

Furniture Style: Be uncompromising...
Furniture Style: Be uncompromising...
by Kathy Scott

Shopping for furniture can be as daunting as shopping for the right car and nearly as expensive. The shopping process often entails lying on dozens of beds, reclining on hundreds of overstuffed chairs and upholstered sofas, pulling out numerous dresser drawers or sitting on an abundance of decorative wood dining chairs. Choosing the right furniture piece or room suit is a quest, but the adventure should be as exciting for you as the day your new piece of furniture is delivered.

Whether your style is Traditional, Contemporary, Shaker, French Country or Cottage, each room of your home has a distinct and dynamic personality. Your "style" should come from your interests and tastes; put a little of yourself into designing each room of your home. More and more furniture retailers are offering interior design consulting. Take advantage of an opportunity to hear directly from an expert.

Some shoppers like to follow furniture trends, pulling from the latest manufacturer collections. For those who like to emulate and adapt new styles, furniture manufacturers rarely disappoint even the savviest shoppers. If you fall into this category, the trends are awash with color and not just from the primary color palette; claims that persimmon (1970s' burnt orange) is back and showing up in several collections.

Not surprisingly, woods are popular especially in the form of chests and tables. Many manufacturers are using different wood products and enhancing their designs with veneers and inlays. And, the silent, yet useful ottoman that was once used simply as a foot rest has been transformed over the years and now houses hidden storage, fold-out beds and even pop-up coffee tables. Upholstered toile is also showing up, and it is no longer just for the French Country collector. Some new toile designs are using more modern graphic designs. Others are incorporating an Asian pattern that can be used for various design purposes.

Once you've decided on your style, the process of furniture buying comes down to a few key components. Believe it or not, there are hundreds, probably thousands of books devoted to the subject of furniture buying. It shouldn't be so difficult, but there are a few things you should consider before beginning your mission, namely budget, room size and furniture usability.

There is well-made furniture in nearly every price range. Once you determine your budget, measure the size of the room where your new furniture will rest, especially the dining room. China cabinets, buffets, tables and chairs take up more room than you might expect. Tall bookcases can also be challenging so measure the length, width and height of a room before making your purchase.

When you find a piece of furniture you like, try it out. Sit around that dining room or breakfast table. Wiggle the arms, look under the table for signs of good craftsmanship. Bounce up and down on that comfortable sofa, feel the fabric and ask the salesperson about its construction. What kind of wood was used to make the frame of the sofa? Is the fabric stain resistant? Finally, ask about the manufacturer's warranty. Most offer anywhere from one to five years of coverage for any breaks or cracks.

Don't overlook accessories when shopping at furniture stores. Decorative items placed strategically around a room can easily offer the finishing touch.