What You Need To Know To Make The Most Out Of Your Furniture Shopping Experience

Here are the most important things every furniture shopper must know.

What features matter most:

Price

For most people, how much a piece of furniture costs has a major influence on what and where to buy. Keep in mind, though, that high price doesn’t always equate to higher quality.

  • Special offers: When buying new furnishings, look for discounts and offers. Buying several pieces at a time can buy you a package discount. For example, when you buy a bedroom set, it might come with the bed frame, nightstand, dresser and chest of drawers, all at a single, lower price point.
  • Additional fees: Watch out for hidden service fees, including delivery charges, shipping and handling fees or processing fees if you’re applying for store credit. If you want to match existing upholstery or order replacement cushions, there could be a fee for this type of service.
  • Quality: The quality and materials used to manufacture furniture can play an important role in pricing. Solid wood pieces tend to go for more than pressboard and plastic construction.

Selection

Furniture shopping can be a time-consuming task, and those who agree that time is money may want to look for a furniture store that has a large selection so they can find everything in one place. Keep in mind that you’ll want to see a variety of finish and upholstery options in addition to different types of furniture.

  • Styles: Some stores specialize in certain decors, such as modern or traditional, and matching your preferences with the store can ensure you don’t waste time while shopping. A store that caters to college students is unlikely to have full size dining room furniture, while a high end furniture manufacturer may not carry apartment-sized pieces.
  • Color choices: Sometimes a different finish can make all the difference, so look for a store that carries multiple versions of pieces in store or has samples of the different upholstery and finish options. If they don’t have the products in store, you may not want to buy. When you buy a living room set, the sofa in stock might be one color, and the love seat that comes from the warehouse could be a very different shade.
  • Construction: Modular designs can fit a variety of rooms, while solid, traditional pieces may not fit through some doorways or around tight corners. Be sure to look for a wide selection of options, so you will be able to find pieces that fit, look good and function as desired.

Reputation

When buying furniture, reputation can play a big role in the retailer you choose. The whisper of bedbugs could send you fleeing in the opposite direction. Negative reviews about order fulfillment could do the same.

  • Bug free: Bringing a piece of furniture in the house also brings in anything living in the upholstery or packaging. This can range from paper beetles to bedbugs. Even a single negative review could be an indicator of an infestation.
  • Timely delivery: When ordering custom or made-to-order furniture, delivery is not just a matter or shipping times. Wait times can be considerable, and a delay at the factory could set an order back weeks, if not months.
  • Customer service: Not every one is good at matching pieces and putting together a room, so a store with educated sales people can save you time and frustration when a room doesn’t come together.

Shipping options

While not as important when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, the available shipping options can be a major pro or con for online retailers. Even if you pick out your new couch on a showroom floor, you may still need to have your particular color choice shipped.

  • Speed: Estimated shipping times can vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the store and whether your choice is in stock. Wait times on imported or hand-crafted furniture can measured in months, so you may have to decide whether or not an item is worth the wait.
  • Haul away: When your new furniture is delivered, you need to figure out what to do with the old stuff. Some retailers might include free or low-cost haul away services, where they take away the old stuff and replace it with the new.
  • White glove service: Depending on where and what you order, furniture pieces could need assembly or installation. Some retailers offer this service, though you may be charged extra.

Delivery options

Even if you have a big pickup truck or can easily tow a trailer behind your SUV, you’ll still likely want to look into delivery options. Having your furniture delivered can save you time, and your back will thank you too.

  • Delivery radius: Some stores only deliver within a certain number of miles, while others deliver nationwide. If ordering online, check the delivery area before spending hours shopping. If you are buying locally, this usually isn’t a problem.
  • Curbside delivery: Delivery can mean different things to different stores. In some cases, furniture is only delivered to the curb, and you are responsible for getting it into the house. Check the terms before you finalize your purchase.
  • Fees: It’s not unusual for furniture stores to charge extra for delivery, but prices vary widely. Some stores offer free shipping with a minimum purchase, and some items might have an extra fee based on weight.

Flexible designs

The birth of Pinterest and the increased interest in out of the box furniture ideas means that shoppers are often looking for very particular pieces. While you may not be able to find exactly what you want, a furniture store that offers flexible design options can help you get close.

  • Upholstery options: A different color or pattern can completely change a piece’s look, and some stores let you pick from hundreds of fabric options so you can get just the right one.
  • Custom builds: If you have an awkwardly shaped space or need to accommodate the basketball player in the family, stores that offer customized sizing or custom-built designs can be a decorating lifesaver.

Price

For most people, how much a piece of furniture costs has a major influence on what and where to buy. Keep in mind, though, that high price doesn’t always equate to higher quality.

  • Special offers: When buying new furnishings, look for discounts and offers. Buying several pieces at a time can buy you a package discount. For example, when you buy a bedroom set, it might come with the bed frame, nightstand, dresser and chest of drawers, all at a single, lower price point.
  • Additional fees: Watch out for hidden service fees, including delivery charges, shipping and handling fees or processing fees if you’re applying for store credit. If you want to match existing upholstery or order replacement cushions, there could be a fee for this type of service.
  • Quality: The quality and materials used to manufacture furniture can play an important role in pricing. Solid wood pieces tend to go for more than pressboard and plastic construction.

Selection

Furniture shopping can be a time-consuming task, and those who agree that time is money may want to look for a furniture store that has a large selection so they can find everything in one place. Keep in mind that you’ll want to see a variety of finish and upholstery options in addition to different types of furniture.

  • Styles: Some stores specialize in certain decors, such as modern or traditional, and matching your preferences with the store can ensure you don’t waste time while shopping. A store that caters to college students is unlikely to have full size dining room furniture, while a high end furniture manufacturer may not carry apartment-sized pieces.
  • Color choices: Sometimes a different finish can make all the difference, so look for a store that carries multiple versions of pieces in store or has samples of the different upholstery and finish options. If they don’t have the products in store, you may not want to buy. When you buy a living room set, the sofa in stock might be one color, and the love seat that comes from the warehouse could be a very different shade.
  • Construction: Modular designs can fit a variety of rooms, while solid, traditional pieces may not fit through some doorways or around tight corners. Be sure to look for a wide selection of options, so you will be able to find pieces that fit, look good and function as desired.

Reputation

When buying furniture, reputation can play a big role in the retailer you choose. The whisper of bedbugs could send you fleeing in the opposite direction. Negative reviews about order fulfillment could do the same.

  • Bug free: Bringing a piece of furniture in the house also brings in anything living in the upholstery or packaging. This can range from paper beetles to bedbugs. Even a single negative review could be an indicator of an infestation.
  • Timely delivery: When ordering custom or made-to-order furniture, delivery is not just a matter or shipping times. Wait times can be considerable, and a delay at the factory could set an order back weeks, if not months.
  • Customer service: Not every one is good at matching pieces and putting together a room, so a store with educated sales people can save you time and frustration when a room doesn’t come together.

Shipping options

While not as important when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, the available shipping options can be a major pro or con for online retailers. Even if you pick out your new couch on a showroom floor, you may still need to have your particular color choice shipped.

  • Speed: Estimated shipping times can vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the store and whether your choice is in stock. Wait times on imported or hand-crafted furniture can measured in months, so you may have to decide whether or not an item is worth the wait.
  • Haul away: When your new furniture is delivered, you need to figure out what to do with the old stuff. Some retailers might include free or low-cost haul away services, where they take away the old stuff and replace it with the new.
  • White glove service: Depending on where and what you order, furniture pieces could need assembly or installation. Some retailers offer this service, though you may be charged extra.

Delivery options

Even if you have a big pickup truck or can easily tow a trailer behind your SUV, you’ll still likely want to look into delivery options. Having your furniture delivered can save you time, and your back will thank you too.

  • Delivery radius: Some stores only deliver within a certain number of miles, while others deliver nationwide. If ordering online, check the delivery area before spending hours shopping. If you are buying locally, this usually isn’t a problem.
  • Curbside delivery: Delivery can mean different things to different stores. In some cases, furniture is only delivered to the curb, and you are responsible for getting it into the house. Check the terms before you finalize your purchase.
  • Fees: It’s not unusual for furniture stores to charge extra for delivery, but prices vary widely. Some stores offer free shipping with a minimum purchase, and some items might have an extra fee based on weight.

Flexible designs

The birth of Pinterest and the increased interest in out of the box furniture ideas means that shoppers are often looking for very particular pieces. While you may not be able to find exactly what you want, a furniture store that offers flexible design options can help you get close.

  • Upholstery options: A different color or pattern can completely change a piece’s look, and some stores let you pick from hundreds of fabric options so you can get just the right one.
  • Custom builds: If you have an awkwardly shaped space or need to accommodate the basketball player in the family, stores that offer customized sizing or custom-built designs can be a decorating lifesaver.

What are different types of furniture stores?

Specialty

These stores focus on one type of furniture, although they may sometimes have a few extra pieces around the showroom. Examples include stores that specialize in office furniture or beds.

Manufacturer branded

These are stores that specialize in just one brand of furniture. Options may be more limited, but it’s often easier to get exact matches in color or finish.

Online

Furniture stores that only conduct sales online can often afford to sell items at lower prices because of the reduced overhead costs. Make sure you review the return and refund policies, though, in case a piece doesn’t look the same in your living room as it did on the website.

Lifestyle

Lifestyle furniture stores are one-stop shops where you can find everything from beds and tables to linens and lamps. These are a good bet if you’re looking for decor in addition to main furniture pieces for your home.

Who’s it for?

DIYers

This customer group may be looking for used or unfinished pieces they can make their own or easily “hackable” items like bookcases or dressers that can be used in nontraditional ways. Lifestyle furniture stores often appeal to this group.

Cost-savvy shoppers

This shopper is looking for a bargain, even if that means picking up a table that doesn’t have matching chairs or taking an orange couch because it’s $100 off. The scratch-and-dent section is the cost-savvy shopper’s best friend.

Interior designers

These customers know exactly what they want and where to find it. They have confidence in their abilities to find just the right piece for a space and may prefer local furniture stores or online outlets that offer business discounts.

Luxury buyers

Luxury buyers consider their furniture an investment and are looking for solid wood and leather pieces that will stand the test of time. This demographic may also be more likely to shop at stores that offer extended warranties, cleaning or service plans.

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