14 Tips for Buying Living Room Furniture

Save time and avoid costly mistakes. Start a furniture hunt knowing the best choices for your living room.

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White Contemporary Living Room hikesterson/iStock/Thinkstock

Courtesy of Target®

You don't have time to wander aimlessly around furniture stores. Next time you're looking for living room furniture, keep these expert tips in mind. Then the only decision will be choosing a favorite piece in your finished room.

1. Find Your Furniture Style
If starting from scratch, first decide if your space is going to be formal or casual. Look through magazines and online, watch design shows and choose a look: chic and sophisticated, comfortable and casual, etc. Find one element to design the room around — perhaps artwork or a pillow — and keep it with you or in mind while shopping.

2. Hardwood Frames (Hidden Strength)
For furniture built to last, buy pieces with hardwood frames. Hardwoods increase the strength and durability of the piece, standing up to everyday wear and preventing warping and distorting. Over time, cushions or fabric can be updated as long as you have a lasting frame.

3. Measure Twice, Buy Once
Measure door and window openings before purchasing pieces to ensure they can fit in the room. Also, take into account narrow doorways, hallways and staircases. Maneuvering through sharp turns can be a challenge for larger furniture pieces.

4. Neutral for Now and Later
Buy neutral sofas that can be updated quickly with pillows and throws when seasons or tastes change. Patterns on such a large area might grow old over time so go with a must-have pattern on a chair instead.

5. Consider Furniture Arrangement Options
Contemplate multiple furniture arrangements and solutions before making purchases. Weighing several options will ensure you choose the best one. For example, would an open bookcase and a smaller piece with doors conceal the kids' toys and media equipment or do you need open bookcases with cabinets on the bottom with doors for that purpose?

6. Long-Term Furniture Solutions
Think long-term and go green. Will you still love this piece years from now? Can it go in other rooms should you decide to replace it later on? Can you see it working in other houses if you move?

7. Durable Furniture Fabrics
Cotton duck, denim and microfiber are great choices for families with kids and pets. Consider slip-covered pieces with washable fabrics or order extra yards of fabric to sew a protective cover you can layer on top of the cushions to protect the piece from spills and pet hair.

8. Allow Enough Space for Furniture
Allow sufficient space in your design for furniture that has moving pieces such as footrests, swinging doors and drawers. These require additional space and will affect walkways.

9. Don't Forget to Look Up
Note the ceiling height and hanging light fixtures of a living room when purchasing larger pieces such as entertainment centers and bookcases.

10. Keep People Close
When creating conversation areas, furniture should be close enough to allow people to talk comfortably when seated. These pieces should face each other when possible rather than sit side by side.

11. Use Delivery Time to Your Advantage
Use the waiting period wisely to finish other living room projects like painting, finalizing the flooring, installing electrical outlets in the floor, adding crown molding, etc.

12. Design a Custom Look
Take a look at furniture collections that allow you to pick from an assortment of fabrics. Also, modular sectionals are great for designing an arrangement to suit your space.

13. Entertaining Space
When looking for a new entertainment center, don't forget to measure all your electronics including speakers, game systems, DVRs and DVD players. Designs can vary so get the actual dimensions of the TV, not just the screen size, as well.

14. Finishing Living Room Touches
Finish any look with throw pillows, lamps with interesting bases and shades, a beautiful area rug and comfy throw blankets appropriate for the season.

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