Shopping for furniture can be a dizzying process. There are a lot of options in terms of price, quality and craftsmanship, and sometimes it’s hard to decide how much you really want to spend and what you’ll really get for that expenditure. Interior designers, furniture store sales professionals and furniture craftsmen are all good resources for helping you determine how to get the best quality at the best price, and which pieces you should think of as an investment. As with any major purchase, it’s best to think of furniture investments in terms of TCO — total cost of ownership. A financial concept that can help you determine the direct and indirect costs (and benefits) of a product, TCO can be estimated by considering how long you want the furniture to last, whether it will need to replaced (and how often), how often you will be using it, and what you want it to say about your personal style.
The bedroom is an area where it’s quite easy to distinguish between times you should definitely invest in quality pieces versus times you can opt for something less long-lasting. For instance, your children will probably go through three or four beds as they grow and their needs change. A girl of 8 who wants bunk beds now may want a bigger bed when she’s a teenager. If you know the bedroom furniture will only be in use in your home for a few years, it doesn’t make sense to buy the highest quality but it should be American made to ensure that it is not made with hazardous chemicals.
On the other hand, you should be investing in quality pieces to outfit your master bedroom and guest bedrooms. These are rooms where the furniture will not need to be replaced due to changing needs, and what you put in those rooms will make an impression on guests. Plus, remember that you spend at least ⅓ of every day in your master bedroom, so you’ll want a bedroom set that’s aesthetically pleasing, sturdy and well-made. Solid wood with wood joinings (not nails or glue), drawers that function seamlessly, thoughtful and artistic details — these are all things to look for when selecting your master bedroom suit.
Dining Room Furniture
The heart of your home, your dining room is the place where you share special moments, celebrate and entertain. It should make your family and guests feel welcome, comfortable and above all, it should make a tasteful statement about you. Dining room furniture can be a treasured heirloom that has witnessed memories being made and is passed down through generations. That’s why you should take the time to shop for timeless dining room tables, chairs, sideboards and hutches made with the finest workmanship. This is one room where you want the furniture to last a lifetime — and beyond. Mass produced furniture doesn’t stand up to years of wear and tear, and doesn’t differentiate your style. Also, as styles change, you’ll be more tempted to replace a mass-produced dining set that is no longer fashionable. Classic good-looking furniture that is contemporary without being overly trendy is your best bet. High-quality pieces will be made from solid cherry, maple, oak and other hard wood options.
Living Room Furniture
Whether formal or casual, contemporary or classic, your living room is a more fluid space that can be updated over time to adjust to a growing family, kids leaving the nest, changing tastes and new color trends. Still, you’ll want to invest in core pieces that are durable and that you won’t need to replace just to update a room. For example, a high quality sofa in a somewhat neutral shade can be freshened up with a simple change of throw pillows, artwork or wall color. It’s a lot less expensive to replace lamps and accessories than your sofa.
It may be tempting to look at catalogs and chain furniture stores for your living space inspiration, but do you really want the same sofa that your friends and neighbors have? Mass-produced furniture, especially sofas and chairs, don’t hold up well after a few years of constant use. A frequent gathering space that needs to accommodate people of all shapes and sizes, your living room should be furnished with a sofa and chairs that have quality solid hardwood frames, built-in wood-joining legs, durable stain-resistant fabric, substantial cushions and firm spring systems.
Instead of using your furniture budget on items that will fall apart, invest in quality items that you can use for many years to come. Think of how you can use something now and how you can use it later. For instance, a great chest of drawers can be in a bedroom now, but maybe a hallway, dining room or living room in a few years. Before you buy a piece of furniture, ask yourself: Will I still love it years from now? Is it well-constructed? Is it versatile? And don’t forget to keep your individual style in mind. The furniture and accessories that express your personality are what showcase your home.