Choosing Furniture: Three Ways to Approach It

by Jess ViceJune 27, 2018

You have the keys, you’ve finished painting, and now… furniture! Each piece feels like such a big commitment – it’s something you and your family will use for years and maybe even pass down to children and grandchildren. Here are three ways to reduce the stress around furniture shopping and help you focus on finding the pieces you will really love and use.


via Christelle BOURGEOIS

Style 1: Start with Space

Often, in small to mid-sized houses, space will dictate what kind of furniture you buy. That huge three-part leather sectional you’ve always dreamed of may just not fit in your 2 bed, 2 bath rancher. But that’s okay!

Start by measuring your space and thinking through how you want it to be used. If you have a good-sized living room, look at the longest wall for your max widths and measure how deep pieces can be. For instance, if you have your heart set on a giant sectional, you may need to consider a narrow coffee table to accommodate the sofa depth and also leave room for walkways.

Imagine how you’d like the space to feel. Warm, close and cozy spaces are created with heavy fabrics and darker colors – like leather, plaids, warm tones, and oversized pieces of furniture. Light, airy, cool spaces are created with brighter colors, smoother fabrics, and more delicate pieces of furniture like wooden frame chairs and glass side tables.

Style 2: Start with Function

Maybe you don’t have a vision for how the room will look when it’s done. Maybe you know what you want to use the room for – chill family movie nights, entertaining friends, studying and homework, or to show off that gorgeous picture window. Decide on the purpose of the room, and then start looking at the pieces.


via Erick Lee Hodge

If it’s a big family gathering place, a giant round table where everyone can be together for game nights and pizza parties and homework crunches might be the central focus with bookshelves along the sides and wall space for whiteboards, calendars, and posters.

If it’s entertaining friends, think about ways to encourage people to sit in small clusters, with room to walk around. You might consider a bar cart for easy drinks or snacks, a central fireplace, or patio doors feature for conversation and movement.

If it’s movie night, first plan where the TV or screen will hang. Then consider what pieces of furniture will get the most people comfortably in the room. Think about ways for them to keep track of their snacks and drinks, how to store extra blankets and pillows, and where the media accessories (like speakers, remotes, and DVD cases) will go.

Style 3: Start with Color

This approach comes naturally for me. I start with the colors and tones I want to see in a room and then hunt for furniture that will support that palette.


via Masaaki Komori

My house is very gray and taupe, and I have rose and gold in my bedroom. So in the living room, I knew I wanted cooler colors, but to continue the gold theme. I settled on turquoise and mustard with gray and white accents to balance the warmer walls and used rose gold as an accent.

With that color palette in mind, it was easy to walk through antique stores, furniture stores, warehouses and yard sales with an eye out for anything in those couple of shades. The trick is staying open to the idea that the furniture itself can be one of your main colors. I found a gorgeous turquoise ottoman and at first kept thinking, “No, the furniture should be gray and the accents are bright.” But the ottoman worked out perfectly and pulled the room together.

Trust Your Gut

In the end, the best piece of advice when you’re furniture shopping is to listen to your heart. If you fall in love with a chair, ottoman or couch, and you can’t get it out of your head, it’s likely a sign. Even if you end up building the entire room around that one piece, if it makes you happy, follow that instinct. Sometimes happiness — especially in homes — doesn’t make much logical sense, but you know it when you see it — or sit on it!

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About The Author
Jess Vice
Jess is a user experience strategist by day and a writer by night. Jess loves making a space feel unique and welcoming through DIY renovations, cooking Southern soul food, and hosting dance parties. She and her Schnoodle Puck spend most of their free time playing in the great outdoors in Utah.