An Interior Designer’s Guide to Furniture Shopping – 8 Steps to Success!

There is nothing more frustrating than finding that perfect coffee table only to get it home and realise it wasn’t such a smart buy after all! To help you eliminate “Buyer’s Regret” when furniture shopping, we’ve created a quick guide full of our top furniture shopping tips to always ensure a happy result.

1. Waiting Periods

Most large furniture stores these days do not keep stock on hand due to the enormous storage, maintenance and labour costs involved. Although this does contribute in keeping costs down, allowing us quality pieces at an affordable price, this can also mean lengthy lead times. You can often expect to wait anywhere between 2 – 12 weeks from the date of purchase for your new furniture to be delivered to your home.With this in mind, it is best to plan ahead and allow yourself plenty of time to shop and to order before you REALLY need that new couch (for example, when moving into your first home)! If you need something in a hurry you may want to consider other avenues such as smaller, family owned furniture stores that usually stock one-off pieces, thrift stores and second hand furniture dealers. These places only keep a small amount of stock at any given time, meaning furniture is readily available for pick up or delivery.
This stylish shabby chic bedside table gives you plenty of convenient storage space while also adding character to your bedroom decor. Available online from Zanui.

2. Check Your Measurements

Before venturing out to your nearest furniture store, check each and every measurement possible (even the ones you think might not matter) to ensure that your new piece not only suits the space allowed for it in your home, but can also make it INTO your home!

Note down relevant measurements such as:

  • The length of the space allowed for your new furniture
  • The width and depth requirements allowed for your new furniture
  • The best suitable height of your new furniture
  • Ensure the new piece will not be blocking any walkways, doors, openings or windows/shutters from being accessible
  • Ensure your new furniture will be safely and easily transported into your home. Check the width of doorways, passages, tight corners and staircase widths. Most larger pieces of furniture are sold in sections (or modules) so this will definitely make life easier for you getting it home. Ask your salesperson if your selected furniture will be delivered in separate sections and if they offer an assembly service upon delivery.
This luxurious two seat sofa has the added benefit of being raised off the floor, allowing for easy cleaning. The Tomas 2 Seater Sofa is available online from Zanui.

3. Plan it

Prior to starting out on your furniture shopping quest, take the time to properly plan out your space. An easy and effective way of ensuring a fabulous furniture layout is to create a scaled plan of your room:
  • Draw up a scaled empty plan of your room: include all doors, windows and openings.
  • Measure any existing furniture in this space and draw each item to scale on a separate sheet. Cut out each item individually so you can move these around your room layout plan.
  • Draw up any new pieces of furniture you have your eye on and cut these out too.
  • Now you have your blank room layout and all your furniture: think of it as a puzzle! Experiment with different layouts until you find the best suitable scheme.
This sleek and stylish entertainment unit includes concealed storage space to help minimise clutter in your living area. Available in two different sizes, click here for more information.

4. Consider Functionality

Now that we’ve decided on an ideal layout, ensure that your newly planned room works well in terms of function. Each item in your space should be able to comfortably function as intended; for example, that stunning 12 seat dining table may just make it into your dining room but can you and your guests comfortably pull your chairs in and out while still leaving room to get around the table? Get out your tape measure the amount of space you use when using certain items: pulling chairs in and out of a table, opening drawers, cupboards or doors, any situation that may affect your room’s overall functionality and usability. This will help you plan out how much space you will really need to allow for.
Quality furniture will last you a lifetime. Solid timber pieces are a popular option for traditional styled homes providing a luscious natural look and a sense of grounding. Image: Zanui

5. Trends & Styling

Keeping a consistent theme throughout your home can be difficult: on the one hand, you don’t want to keep everything too “matchy-matchy” but on the other hand, how much of a contrast between pieces is too much? The easiest way to ensure consistency in your decorating scheme is to select an element to carry through your selections: it could be a colour, a style, pattern or material such as timber or iron. Remember that it is ok to mix it up a little and you will also be layering your furniture scheme with decorative items and soft furnishings. 
Another key factor to consider is whether or not your selected pieces will stand the test of time or will they simply be out of date all too soon. The reason why decorators and designers avoid certain trends is because once something is “trending”, it soon appears absolutely everywhere you look. The market becomes over saturated with the trending colour or style, causing most people to tire of it.
A well designed home is full of individual character and personality. Your home should reflect you: your taste, style and interests. Let your own unique style shine through your decorating scheme!
furniture shopping - cane-accent-lounge-room-decor
A perfectly coordinated decorating scheme featuring rustic, shabby chic elements, combining several textures such as timber, iron and fabrics. The white cane lounge chair not only adds a further textural feature to the space, but provides a comfortable solution that will compliment many decorating schemes. Image: Living Styles

6. Materials & Quality

Found yourself the perfect piece? Make sure to do your research into the material or fabric used to ensure ease of maintenance, longevity and of course, suitability. For example, if you have children in the home it is best to avoid light coloured leathers: these are a magnet for markers and paints! Research what types of materials are best suited to your lifestyle to avoid any buyer’s remorse!
When it comes to quality, as the old saying goes: you get what you pay for. However, you can always find many quality pieces out there at great prices if you take the time to shop around and do your research. Keep an eye out for sales and clearances, bargain with your salesperson and search places like Ebay or Gumtree for great deals. Remember to inspect your selected furniture in person prior to placing an order: check the quality and overall craftsmanship of the piece to make sure it meets your expectations.
furniture shopping - industrial-style-dining-table
As seen on The Block, Hydrowood’s Blackwood Timber dining table suits a vintage industrial themed home and provides a stylish alternative to a traditional dining table and chair set.

7. Consider Storage

One thing our clients always crave is more storage; you can never have enough! When selecting a new piece of furniture, keep this in mind and consider options that will provide you with a storage solution, whether its a coffee table with drawers, a buffet with open shelves or a bookshelf with cupboards underneath for concealed storage. Selecting furniture with the bonus of added storage will further help your home stay clutter free, giving you less house work to worry about.
furniture shopping - messmate-coffee-table
Store magazines, books and other nick-nacks in your coffee table shelf to help keep a clutter-free living area. As seen on The Block, the Messmate coffee table provides a simple small storage solution

8. Consider Maintenance

Last but not least, consider just how much effort your newly selected furniture will be to maintain and keep clean. For example, when selecting a new couch, try to keep an eye out for a couch that will stand at least 150mm off the floor, leaving you just enough space to get a broom or vacuum under. Without this allowance, not only will your space appear smaller but your couch will soon become a breeding ground for dust and dirt – not so great for allergy sufferers or pet owners!


Scandinavian design at its finest! The Zeus cabinet is made of solid American white oak and provides an elegant storage solution in the home. Image: The Block Shop

Remember to keep true to your own personal and unique style and have fun creating your beautiful home!


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