Does the thought of furniture shopping raise you blood pressure? Heres what to know before shopping so you can enjoy your furniture shopping experience!
Updated: Thursday, 11 Oct 2012, 10:55 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 11 Oct 2012, 10:49 AM EDT
Grand Rapids, Mich. (WOTV) - We often hear horror stories of the Great Mistaken Buy in the furniture world-the cocktail table that was promptly scratched or the sofa that bottomed out right away or the swivel stools with no swivel. Everyone has a story because everyone has furniture.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of products out there with deservedly horrible reputations. The sofa that is basically made of cardboard under the upholstery that sells at a big box discount store for $199.
But that is not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is the $3,000 dining set that gets scratched or the $2,000 sofa with fabric that pills. Why do these things happen? And more importantly, what can we do about it?
Here some questions to ask and things to know BEFORE you decide to buy decent furniture:
Furniture is made by people. More expensive furniture is made by more skilled people, one piece at a time. Especially when it comes to upholstery, expect slight variations. If a piece is less than you expect on delivery, give the store a chance to fix it. If the store won’t, return it and go somewhere else.
Everything has a plus and a minus. Several years ago, when microfiber came onto the scene, everyone jumped on the band wagon to sell this ‘magic’ fabric to families. And good microfiber is easy to clean and durable. But it is also a fabric with a nap, which means that sticky or goopy stains are impossible to remove and every time someone stands up, it will be evident they were there. For every dark, there is a light. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
A rose by the same name may not smell as sweet. Low end furniture manufacturing uses some of the same basic techniques as high end, but with wildly different materials and results. That’s how the word ‘veneer’ suddenly became equated with low end furniture. In reality, veneering is a technique used for the high end of the high end wood furniture with expertly inlaid burled walnuts and maples creating interesting graining patterns. But it also means the paper printed to look like wood and glued on to particle board. The overall quality of the manufacturing is more important than any particular technique used.
Function and design are independent decisions. Actually, the design of a piece has a great impact on it’s overall function. You prefer rich, dark wood finishes? Great! But know that they are more susceptible to visible scratches (not that they are easy to scratch, just the scratches are really noticeable). You want a recliner up on legs that doesn’t look like a recliner? Fantastic! But the bottom frame is not connected to the arms at as many points, so it will wiggle a bit. Your style preference is not wrong, but it can open you up to new and different function issues. Be sure to discuss this with your sales person.
But it’s so much cheaper online. Why should I buy it from a store? This is an excellent question. Things are typically less expensive online for one reason – the dealer has fewer costs. No commission sales person. No showroom light and heating bills. No well-trained and insured delivery staff. More protection from returns (customers must pay for and organize return shipping). Also, the dealer is not required to collect sales tax, which can be a large bottom line savings for you. But what do you give in exchange for this? Likely, there will be little to no recourse if a product arrives damaged. There will be no one to call if it is delayed. And there will certainly be little to no ongoing service if a product falls apart in 6 months. To buy online or in store is a risk/reward calculation.
What will it look like in 5 years? 10 years? This is the most important question to ask for any kind of furniture purchase. This is where you discover, from an honest salesperson, the difference between the $399 sofa and the $899 sofa and the $1599 sofa. If the salesperson doesn’t ask you specific questions about your home/lifestyle or just says it will be fantastic, consider moving on. You may not be getting the whole picture.
What do I have to do to keep it looking good? This is the second most important question. Will you need to fluff pillows? Move cushions? Polish wood? Use trivets or placemats? Condition leather? If you’re not willing to put in that effort, ask if there’s something similar that does not require that amount of work.
What does the warranty cover?
Manufacturer’s warranties cover defects in manufacturing. And they usually only cover parts, not labor or shipping. Better furniture stores pick up the labor and shipping tabs, but only for problems in manufacturing.
Nothing is perfect. Some things will be better for your life and your household than others. Find a salesperson you trust and then be open and honest about any past problems you have had.
Of course, this information is from a furniture store’s point of view. However it is in our best interest, as well as yours, to put the right furniture in your home. This requires time and effort from the store, the sales associates, and the customers, but it is well worth it in the end.