October 29, 2011
When buying furniture it’s important to consider function as well as design and to buy pieces that fit with the style and tone you’ve adopted for your home. Choosing the wrong furniture is an expensive mistake that can ruin the overall appearance of a room and leave you feeling dis-satisfied with your home. Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert in interior design to make the right choices – to help you get started we’ve put together a few simple tips.
Room-by-room tips for choosing furniture
- Dining Room
The type of dining room furniture you buy will very much depend on how you intend to use the room. If you largely use the room for formal dining, dinner parties and entertaining then you’ll need a large table that seats at least six to eight people with comfortable chairs that are suitable for prolonged periods at the table. Solid wood tables, such as oak or walnut, are a traditional and popular choice for formal dining rooms because they are durable yet elegant with an expensive, classic feel. A formal dining table will be more expensive than the sort of table designed for everyday use, however if you are on a restricted budget remember that you can give a cheaper dining set a touch of glamour and sophistication by using quality table dressings. For the finishing touch to a formal dining room it is well worth investing in a sideboard that compliments or matches the main dining table and chairs.
If you prefer informal dining or you dine in your kitchen then you’d be wise to invest in a table that is suitable for everyday use. You’ll need to ensure there’s enough space for all the family – extending tables are a good way of accommodating extra guests when you need to, just ensure you have enough chairs! Generally, everyday kitchen and dining tables come in solid pine or wood veneers although glass tables are increasing in popularity. These are ideal for conservatories as they make the most of the natural light; they also fit well with more modern interiors although if your decor is more traditional, stick to wood.
- Living Room
The living room is where you’re likely to spend most of your time and also where you make guests welcome. As such it should be comfortable and relaxing – so don’t fall in to the trap of buying living room furniture purely for design rather than for comfort. You should also avoid overcrowding your room with lots of different pieces – stick to the basics and just buy what you’ll use on a day-to-day basis.
The type of furniture you choose will also depend on whether you want pieces that are practical and fashionable yet don’t cost the earth or quality pieces that will stand the test of time. Choosing budget pieces means that you can afford to update your furniture every couple of years to reflect your changing tastes; however if you opt for high quality, classically designed furniture then you’ll undoubtedly spend more in the short term but over the long term you’ll save.
It’s important to choose sofas that fit well yet provide enough seating for your needs. Remember that neutral colours never go out of fashion and you can always use vibrant cushions as highlights. If your sofa is likely to be subjected to spills and stains you may prefer to get a darker colour or spend a little extra to buy leather as it is easier to wipe clean. Leather is also more resistant to damage caused by pets and children so this may be a deciding factor for you.
One of your key considerations when buying bedroom furniture is storage. If you don’t have a lot of room for wardrobes and drawers then buy a bed with built in storage underneath – you’ll be surprised just how much you can fit in it.
The size of the bed should reflect the size of the room, too big and the space will feel cramped. Ideally you’ll need to leave enough room at each size for bedside cabinets or lamp tables.
Before you buy wardrobes measure your ceiling height to make sure that they will fit. Check how much space you have to open wardrobe doors, if it is limited you may prefer to buy a wardrobe unit with sliding doors instead. Mirrored wardrobe doors can boost natural light and create an illusion of space – although these are best suited to modern homes.
Although wooden bedroom furniture works well in both traditional and contemporary homes, metal and glass are best suited to the latter as they will look out of place in a home that has a more classical finish.
- Children’s Bedrooms
Furniture for children’s rooms should be functional yet fun and you’ll need plenty of storage for all of those clothes, books and toys! Aim to buy pieces that are durable, can withstand wear and tear and can be wiped clean.
- Garden Furniture
Garden furniture has come a long way since the days of white plastic. Before you buy consider the practicalities – is it weatherproof and can you leave it outside all year round? Hardwood or wrought iron is best for year-round outdoor use, although wood will need to be treated at least once a year to prevent deterioration. It’s also well worth investing in a rainproof cover.
- What about wooden furniture?
Get to know the different types of wooden furniture available, that way you’ll know what your buying and what sort of durability you can expect from it. As a general guide:
Wood veneer furniture – this is solid wood layers applied as a finish to furniture made from a variety of base materials, such as MDF etc.
Wood effect furniture – this furniture is made from a man-made material that is designed to look like wood.
Solid wood furniture – this is either 100% solid wood or a mixture of solid wood and wood veneers. As wood is a natural material you can expect the finish to vary between pieces. Some woods, like pine, are naturally knotty so tend to be cheaper.
Care tips for furniture
Upkeep and regular cleaning is vital if you want to keep your furniture looking good. Avoid placing furniture directly in sunlight and try to position it away from radiators and air conditioning vents if possible. You may need to wash upholstery and fabrics but follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Also shop around for cheap home insurance quotes to cover furniture against accidental damage.
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