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Furniture Buying Tips & Terminology
What you need to know about how and what to purchase
by Tessa Luu

Furniture Buying Guide

Furniture is a big investment. When buying furniture, keep the following in mind:

Size--make sure it will fit in your home or apartment. Measure your room and then do a floor plan. Use a 1/2 inch graph paper (1 square equals one foot). Be conscious of traffic movement in the room. Lay out your furniture so that you don't have to walk around it. Take a measurement tape with you while shopping.

Buy what you need. Don't be impulsive. Furniture is bulky, expensive, and very hard to get rid off if you have buyer's remorse.

Develop a buying plan. Set priorities and goals. If you have a beer budget and champagne taste, invest in one quality piece at a time.

Learn as much as possible about the piece you buying--that means reading the labels, warranty, study the manufacturer and their reputation.

Keep records of what you bought in case problems develop.

Buying Casegoods

Casegoods refers to wood products such as dining table, chairs, beds etc. Here are a few common terminology:

Solid--solid means that all exposed surfaces are made of solid wood without veneer.

Genuine--when used with a named wood, for example, mahogany, means that all exposed surface are made of mahogany.

Combination-more than one type of wood is used in exposed parts of the furniture.

All-wood construction means all exposed parts are made of wood.

Veneer refers to a material consisting of thin wood layers bonded to each other with an adhesive. Veneer is not necessarily a bad thing. Many times wood with the most beautiful grain pattern is selected for the outermost layer, or veneer, of a wood piece.

Hardwood refers to wood from trees that lose their leaves each year. Oak, pecan, walnut, birch, maple, cherry, mahogany are some of the common ones.

Softwoods are evergreens, such as pine, cedar, cyprus, spruce, fir and redwood.

Buying Upholstery Furniture

Upholstered furniture such as sofas and chairs are often the most-used furniture in your home. Buy them for comfort and durability. Here are a few tips:

Don't just sit on the sofa or chair. Bounce on it. The frame should be substantial enough so you can bounce on it. Wood frames are most common. The good ones are made of kiln-dried hardwood. The frame should have corner blocks that are cut to fit, screwed and glued to position.

The legs should be made of interlocking pieces and joined to the frame with the same construction as the rest of the joints. If they are simply screwed into the frame or screwed into the metal part of the frame, it's an indication of poor quality.

Check the padding on the arm and the top of the sofa. If you can feel the frame, this means that the pieces are of poor construction.

Look at the seams and welting. Is it neat and even? Do the patterns match? These are good indications of quality.

How the spring is reinforced is very important. The best way is 8-hand tie construction, as each cord is anchored securely to the frame in eight different directions, allowing the spring to be held in the proper position.

There is a wide range in price of upholstery furniture due to fabric grade. Fabrics are graded according to their quality and design. If it is for frequent use, choose a fabric that is serviceable, tightly woven and stain resistant. For a less-frequently-used chair, the piece can be upholstered in some thing more elegant and dressy such as silk.

Keep in mind that most manufacturers guarantee their frames but not the fabric. Proper care such as sun avoidance and regular cleaning will help lengthen the life of your furniture.

Tessa is a founder and owner of InsideAvenue.com, a luxury home decor catalog specializing in warm modern designs.

Provided by Inside Avenue - Copyright 2006 Inside Avenue. All Rights Reserved

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