Creating a home environment is a very personal process as it becomes an extension of who we are. Because of this, every generation tends to take a different approach to the task. As Millennials begin to shape their homes, their ideas and social sensibilities are beginning to impact the retail world. According to RetailerNow magazine, Millennials account for 37% of all furniture and bedding purchases. As a group, they are looking more toward investing in home furnishings that are sustainable and that often means they seek furniture that is built to last a lifetime. However, with a varied landscape of terminology and materials, it can be challenging to make thoughtful selections. If you’re a Millennial ready to invest in your home, follow these tips to find pieces that will stand by you.
How to ensure you’ll love what you buy
Although Millennials prefer to do product research online, you’ll want to see and feel the real thing when it comes to selecting furniture. You may love the look of that natural leather sofa, but find that you prefer the feel of upholstery. Or you might discover the back of that contemporary style chair (it would have looked great in your living room) is too low to support you comfortably.
Plus, at quality furniture stores, the staff will be able to point out the features of every piece, tell you where and how it’s made, and offer tips for care.
What to look for in wood furniture
It’s hard to go wrong with solid wood, but most pieces today incorporate some form of plywood as well. Plywood is fine, so long as it’s at least 9 layers thick. Also, inspect the piece for knots, which mark areas that can easily crack. Avoid anything made of particle board, pressed wood, or fiberboard.
Next, look at the construction. If you see staples, nails, or glue, the piece will not hold together as well as ones with dowels or screws. The joints (where two sections come together at a right angle) should be dovetail or mortise-and-tenon. For extra support and durability, you should see reinforcing blocks inside the corners.
Make sure doors and drawers open cleanly and that drawers have stops that prevent you from accidentally pulling them all the way out. Finally, take an overall assessment. Press on corners and lift up one side. If the piece is well-made, nothing will squeak or twist.
What to look for in upholstered furniture
If you can, open up the cover of one of the cushions. The interior foam should be wrapped in cotton or Dacron. It’s also good to have a protective cover of muslin (lightweight cotton cloth). Ask the salesperson for the density rating. 1.8 pounds or higher will perform well over the years. Avoid pieces with uncovered or thin padding.
To check the quality of the construction, remove the cushions and press down on the supporting coils. Look for even spacing and uniform resistance. Put the cushions back on and sit in as many different positions as possible; you don’t want to sink down into any soft spots. You can also squeeze the backs and arms of the piece to see how well they’re padded. If you can feel the frame, it’s too thin.
Look for those little touches that make a difference. If you can reverse the cushions without ruining the pattern, you’ll get double the life out of them. And lined skirts with weights will keep their shape better in the long run.
How to find pieces that adapt to style changes
If you invest in quality, you will want to keep your central pieces even as trends change over the years. Within the sphere of your personal taste, choose simple designs, clean lines, and neutral colors. You can embellish with art, accessories, occasional tables, and throw pillows to reflect your current favorite style.
In the dining room, choose classic wood chairs in a medium finish that can blend with a lighter or darker color scheme. For your table, go with a clean, rustic farm style with removable leaves. This kind of table can dress formal, relax casual, or even go industrial.
For your sofa, consider an English roll-arm style. It’s both comfortable and classic in a neutral upholstery or leather. Instead of getting a loveseat, consider a pair of upholstered chairs. This will give you more options as you move into larger houses or re-arrange your current space. Chairs can move into bedrooms or dens and you can change their look with a throw pillow, afghan, or floor lamp.
Wood cabinets are a great investment as well. Wardrobes, glass-front cabinets, and even sideboards can work in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and offices, depending on where you need them. Select an unembellished style with adjustable shelving for maximum versatility.
Setting up your first house or apartment should never be done in one big shopping spree. As you trade up from “early college” disposable furniture for higher quality pieces, remember to take your time. Buy pieces as your taste and budget develops, and don’t buy anything you don’t love. If you choose good construction, versatility, and pieces you know you’ll want to use often and show off, you’ll never regret spending the money.
If you’d like some help finding furniture that will be with you for the long run, visit us at The Guest Room Furniture & Design for some ideas and tips.