Whether you’re looking to give your home a brand new look or are setting up your new home, your furniture plays a huge role in achieving the look you want. But how do you shop for furniture that results in the look you want? What considerations to keep in mind? After all, it’s not as simple as just buying a bed, a sofa and a center table, putting them together, and hoping they do the trick! Functionally, they might, but aesthetically, not so much. If you’re reading this article, we’re willing to bet that aesthetic value matters to you. Read on to find our tips on how you can choose the right furniture for your home.
We break down all the furniture solutions for your home, right from how to choose furniture to what furniture is an absolute necessity to rules to follow while setting up your furniture, and more. Read on for a complete 101 on furnishing the home of your dreams!
Choosing the Right Furniture
The first step in achieving your dream home aesthetic is choosing the right furniture, but how do you pick out furniture that can last you in the long run? Both, in terms of durability and aesthetic value?
Picking out the right furniture involves a little bit of doing your homework; after all, considering that furniture isn’t exactly the cheapest, you don’t want to find out, after your purchase, that the new $1,000 sofa you just invested in doesn’t match the rest of your decor, or worse, fit in your living room! But don’t let the anxiety take over; we give you a few pointers on choosing the right furniture for your home that will keep you from making an expensive mistake.
Just as it helps to have a theme for parties, it helps to have a theme for your home decor. Do you want your home to be done up in a contemporary style, with metallic, modern pieces that are all about straight lines, angles and no fuss? Or do you want a tropical theme, with open spaces, natural materials and light colors? You could also go with a floral theme, traditional (dark wood and antiques), or just keep it cozy, earthy and casual.
Once you have your theme set, it’s time to define what you need in the space. Is sitting space more important? Do you want a sofa that can also allow comfortable lounging and TV viewing? Should you get a sofa that can accommodate a large number of guests? If this is an infrequent occurrence, will a sofa that’s enough for you and a partner suffice?
Each room in your house will satisfy a different need—a study will require different furniture than the bedroom or dining room. Based on this need, you can decide what furniture to furnish the room with. In the rooms that you frequently use, consider putting in furniture that makes your daily life more comfortable.
Additionally, consider your lifestyle. Do you have pets? Tots? Frequent guests, who stay over? Take these into account, as well, while picking out furniture. If you have kids or pets, linen, tweed and other tough, stain-resistant fabrics in dark colors are a good call.
Each room in your house probably has its own dimensions and layout. To choose the right furniture for your home space consider how much room you have before you invest in furniture, as the size of the furniture you pick out can alter how the dimensions of your room are perceived. A large bed in a small room will overwhelm the room and make it look tiny; your room can look spacious or crowded, based on the size of the furniture.
It’s a good idea to measure the room, doorway included (no point buying a brand new couch that won’t go through your door!), and come up with a floor plan. Ensure that the length of your furniture doesn’t exceed your wall’s length.
What Space To Leave
A good rule of thumb is to leave 18 inches, on either side, from the end of the sofa to the end of the wall. You may also want to ensure that there is enough space to walk around and clean without the need to squeeze through or move other things in the space.
Additionally, keep in mind the shape of the room. Round rooms should ideally feature matching furniture that is space efficient, for the best aesthetic. Square or rectangle rooms can be divided by using furniture such as sectional sofas.
If you’re buying wooden furniture, you’ll most commonly come across three categories—veneers, solid wood and composite wood/particle board.
Understandably, solid wood pieces are the most expensive; however, they are also the most high maintenance, prone to water rings and scratching, which kinda takes away from how great they look. Veneers are cheap—they’re inexpensive wood covered with thin layers of better-quality wood. Their cheap core makes them work out cheaper than solid wood.
The cheapest of the lot is particle board, made using plastics, resin, wood pulp and other furniture/carpentry scraps.
Once you have these basic points sorted, you can start considering other factors such as textures, colors and anchoring pieces, and whether the furniture you pick out complements the other decor in the room. Remember that if you’re choosing furniture to serve as anchoring or focal points, picking these out first and doing up the rest of the room accordingly is much easier than the other way around.
Additionally, it helps to pick out smaller pieces in bold colors for statement pieces, instead of, say, your whole sofa! Should you ever feel like changing your wall paint from white to purple a few years down the line, you’ll find that your expensive orange statement couch doesn’t go so well anymore.
When it actually comes down to buying furniture, here are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure that your furniture is high quality and not defective or damaged.
- Check that the cabinets and drawers open and close properly. Pull them all the way out and check that they don’t get stuck, the latches all shut properly, and that the drawer/cabinet closes evenly, too. If the doors are meant to remain open once opened, check that they stay that way, instead of snapping shut on you as you’re about to remove something from the cabinet. Ensure the knobs and handles are tight and well fitted.
- Opt for wood joining at the ends and corners, instead of nails and glue. Wood-joined pieces are more stable, strong and capable of supporting more weight.
- Inspect the different components of your furniture, such as the legs, springs, cushions—the entire works. Heavy wooden legs that are joined and not nailed to the frame are the most stable; a one-fifth middle leg is also worth looking for, though these typically feature in more expensive sofas.
The More Expensive, the Better?
Many people believe that the more you shell out for a piece of furniture, the better the quality. While this holds true to some extent, you can still find quality pieces for relatively low prices.
- Look for Sales: Sales are a godsend; you’ll find excellent furniture at even better prices around holidays and the end of the season. Don’t discount yard sales, garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores and outlet stores either.
- Second-Hand Furniture: This will involve a little more work, as you’ll have to carefully and painstakingly inspect for damage, but you can sometimes hit the jackpot in these deals. You can even haggle in these deals guilt-free, because furniture is given to huge markups with time. If the other party refuses to bring down the price, ask for freebies, such as free cushions, setup or delivery.
- Ask Around: Sometimes, friends, family and even strangers are looking to give away their furniture for free. Sites like Freecycle and Craigslist are good options, if this appeals to you.
You don’t have to shell out a bomb for quality; as you can see, other options exist. Additionally, many brands and e-commerce sites offer excellent discounts on products, though it’s a bit of a risk to pay that much without inspecting the piece before-hand; in this case, look for a good warranty, trial periods and return deals.
Long story short, you can find good furniture that fits within your budget; all it takes is a little looking!
What Furniture Is a Necessity?
Not all furniture is created equal; some are a necessity while others are options. Again, what furniture is a necessity is defined, to a great extent, by the purpose of the room. For example, a sofa is a necessity in the living space, but a sofa bed is an option in the same room.
Here’s a list of the must-have furniture in your house, especially if you’re a first-time buyer:
- A comfortable bed
- A dining table (you can either buy a standalone table and add chairs later or conveniently purchase a set)
- A functional sofa
- An armoire for your wardrobe needs
- Side and nesting tables
- Lighting and lamps
- Guest beds or sofa beds
Even among these, side tables, ottomans and guest beds are optional, compared to the others.
If you’re moving into an apartment or home for the very first time, it can be super exciting. However, doing it up extravagantly may not be within your budget in the short term. Furniture is essential, but you can work to a plan for what you need immediately. Then feed in less important furniture as you go based on your budget.
For starters, invest in a sofa, a coffee table, a good mattress, and a closet/armoire/organizer for the bedroom. Other items such as dining tables, additional lighting, side tables, artwork, throws, rugs and so on, can come later. That way you can comfortably accommodate them in your budget over time.
It isn’t the end of the world if you eat dinner sitting on your couch till you can afford a dining table!
Nailing Arranging Your Furniture
It isn’t just enough to get home the best-looking bed or couch; where you put it matters quite a bit, and could end up making all the difference between spacious and crowded.
How Do You Arrange Furniture in the Living Room?
When arranging furniture in the living room, aim for a spacious result rather than crowding the space. Since it’s the living room, it’s bound to see more traffic and usage than other rooms. Ensure you leave enough space for easy, comfortable navigation around the room and its entry/exit spots.
30 inches around furniture is ideal, as is 14-18 inches between the sofa and table. Perfect drink-reaching distance sans too much effort! Round tables allow more space for navigation, making them a great option between tables. But, of course, if the space is tight, nesting tables are a good idea.
Placing furniture facing each other, around a central table, or a fireplace, if you have one, is a good idea. This encourages conversation and socializing (8 feet apart is the ideal distance). You can also put tables as landing spaces on either end of the sofa. Remember, this is the room where you’ll accommodate guests, so aim for a cozy, friendly feel, but don’t make the setting too intimate. That should be saved for a room you only use with your family.
In case you don’t have free walls, float your furniture in the room, especially if it’s small. Since your sofa won’t be framing the room, consider using cabinets and additional chairs to do so, placed around the room’s walls/perimeter.
If you feel like you’re still not sure about how to do up your living room, orienting all your furniture to any view your room offers is a foolproof idea! Whether it’s the TV or fireplace, make it the focal point and place your furniture around it or pointed toward it.
You can also create your own focal point by merging two focal points, such as putting your TV above the fireplace or putting your lovely antique table at the center and the TV behind it, on its own stand.
The challenge of furnishing your home becomes significantly harder when you have a small, inflexible space! Thankfully, with smart furniture that serves more than one purpose, such as sofa beds, tables with storage, multi-purpose cabinets, to name a few, the task becomes slightly easier. Such clever furniture for small spaces not only saves you a ton of space and presents a world of convenience but also looks fab!
Don’t forget to factor in the light in the room; lighting can set the overall mood of the room, and how! Make use of natural and artificial lighting (sconces, chandeliers and lamps) to highlight your furniture.
What About Arranging Furniture in the Bedroom?
If your bedroom is long and narrow, keep the bed facing the window for a view to wake up and fall asleep to! Put your dressing table/mirror/desk and chair opposite the doorway, with a couple of benches, for sitting, at the foot of the bed. Nightstands on either side of the bed are convenient; they provide space to put your lamp on as well as provide additional storage space.
If the room is square, make the bed the focal point, placing it on a large rug that extends 2 feet on all sides, and opt for a freestanding armoire that makes use of your wall for storage space.
Again, for a small bedroom, opt for dual-purpose furniture. Use fewer pieces, with more length than width, so that valuable floor space isn’t taken up and unused room length can be converted to storage space. In a small bedroom, it’s better to fit in the essentials before you add in any frills. Leave at least 2 feet around your bed for navigation and 3 feet between the door and your bed, so that your bed doesn’t block the doorway.
If you don’t mind compromising a little bit on storage space, you could opt for a larger bed. In fact, many beds come with storage space built into the headboards; however, such large beds will overwhelm the space.
Don’t be afraid to play around a bit with placement if you find that it helps you maximize the space better. In the end, it doesn’t even matter—if your room looks great but you’re uncomfortable or unhappy with the placement! To make the room appear more cozy and comfortable, you can consider adding a bench at the foot of the bed, set up a tiny reading corner with a small armchair, or a nightstand or stool.
Furniture in the Family Room
If your family room features an interesting, irregular layout, create a wide lane for traffic on one side, along the room’s perimeter. Choose movable chairs (such as wheeled ones) that can change the space as required. A floating furniture layout is better than a fixed one for the family room, as the versatile room will end up fulfilling different purposes at different points of time!
If you have a TV in the room, place furniture 8-12 feet away, with a viewing angle of 30 degrees maximum. Create walkways for traffic behind the sofas or seats, so that the view is not obstructed for TV viewers.
If you require storage space (which you will), consider using drop zones, drawers, cabinets, especially freestanding pieces for smaller rooms or wall-to-wall built-in storage.
The Arrangement Of Furniture in the Dining Room
Another frequently used room, dining rooms look the best and have the most maximized space when they mimic the shape of the room (for example, a square table and layout in a square room, instead of a circular table in a square room).
For a dining room with no free walls, mixing and matching furniture provides a uniquely beautiful look. If the room is extremely large, don’t fill it up with an equally large dining table; stick to the number of frequent users plus 3-4 more spaces. Additionally, factor in how you’ll use the dining room—will it be a buffet or at-the-table setting? For the former, provide sufficient space to move around, whereas for the later, provide space around the table and in between the chairs.
Remember, the shape of the table also matters—circular tables are more flexible in terms of accommodating guests, whereas rectangular and square tables can only accommodate a fixed number of guests. Oval tables are the rare kind of tables that look good in a room that doesn’t mimic their shape—oval tables work well in rectangular rooms, combining the flexibility of a round table and the functionality of a rectangular one!
Ultimately, your dining room should be more functional than anything else. Make the most of the space with storage, shelves, and good lighting. A chandelier above the table will add a touch of class and elegance to any kind of dining room!
Other Frequently Asked Questions
- Should I buy furniture before or after moving into my new home?
If you’re starting afresh and building your furniture base from ground zero, it’s a good idea to buy furniture after you move into your new house. This way, you save quite a bit on transporting the furniture (especially if you’re moving far from your previous pad) and you have an idea of the new house’s layout, which means that you have information in hand to choose and buy furniture.
If you already have furniture from your previous house, it’s obviously cheaper to transport this if you’re moving within the state. If you’re moving interstate, it may work out the same whether you transport the furniture or buy new furniture; it all depends on how attached to your previous furniture you are!
- What is the most popular/best-selling type of furniture?
Though this depends on what the current industry trend is, certain timeless styles exist that are perennial bestsellers. These include traditional, mid-century modern, contemporary and modern furniture. Traditional furniture oozes elegance in its classic silhouettes, whereas contemporary, mid-century modern and modern furniture are favored for their clean lines, shapes and minimalist designs.
- Should my living room furniture match?
Many professionals deem matching furniture to be boring, monotonous and passe. Mixing your furniture gives rooms a truly unique look; mixing and matching your furniture also provides more scope for expressing your personality and uniqueness.
Having said that, if you want to match your furniture, go ahead! At the end of the day, it’s your room and your furniture, and you’re the one who’s going to spend the most time around these. Therefore, go for an aesthetic that pleases you, instead of blindly following industry trends and rules. Matching, mixing, mismatching—you do you, folks!
- Should my curtains match my couch or my walls?
There are three options at your disposal when it comes to your curtain color—you can match it with your walls, go neutral, or select a strong contrast.
When we say match your curtains to your walls, we don’t mean shade for shade; choose a color that complements the walls. You could still match them exactly, but this needs to be done correctly; if not, you could have a boring room instead of an elegant one. Alternately, you could pick out a contrasting shade of curtains—the boldest, most visually appealing option.
What would work best, though, in our opinion, is choosing a color palette for the room and picking out curtains in one of the palette’s shades. Another thing that works equally well is picking out a neutral shade; such shades go with all decor and should you change the color of your walls or furniture later, there’s more of a chance that these will still match your new theme.
- Is a couch necessary in the living room?
Though living rooms and couches are an age-old combination that is rarely broken up, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be! You could use other seating options such as a daybed, cushions on the floor, a bench and chairs or a chaise lounge—your living room is your oyster
- What color should my couch be?
First, decide whether you want a light or dark sofa, if you’re looking for a statement sofa. If not, a neutral shade is a highly popular option, which includes shades such as cream, gray, beige and taupe. These colors are cool, comfortable, stylish and sophisticated, all at the same time, and very easy to work with while decorating the rest of the room. You could also, as with the curtains, decide a color scheme for the room and pick out a sofa in one of the palette’s shades.
The Bottom Line
We won’t lie; investing in new furniture involves a bit of research, homework and planning. However, once you’ve started the process, it should flow smoothly enough! At the end of the day, remember that it’s more about your likes and preferences than prevailing industry trends, so don’t worry too much about the result of your choices. Focus more on functionality, comfort and most importantly, your needs and likes, and you’ll find that your space reflects your unique personality—the most foolproof decor strategy ever!