Selecting furnishings 101

Selecting Furnishings 101

The thought of selecting furnishings while embarking on a new decorating project can be an exciting experience.

Furnishings are an important component of any interior decorating project. However, there are many factors to bear in mind when making your selection.

Most importantly, durability, type of material, practicality, comfort, cost, and of course, style.

The furnishings chosen will set the tone for the entire room. Whether they are traditional or contemporary pieces, finding just the right item can be a satisfying experience.

You’ll need to think about the construction and durability of each piece, as well as the materials used.

You’ll also need to ensure each piece is functional and comfortable while staying within your client’s budget.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to consider your client’s personal style, ensuring each piece reflects their unique taste and preferences.

But before you start selecting new furnishings for your client, there are a few things you need to consider first:

Take note of the existing furnishings

When you start a decorating project, consider the furnishing items already in place.

This will ensure any new pieces selected will work well with the existing ones in terms of colors, fabrics, patterns, and style.

It’s recommended to have a photo of the current furnishings or a fabric sample as a reference when selecting new items.

This can be a helpful way to make comparisons and ensure the decorating scheme is cohesive throughout the room.

Consider the purpose of the furnishings

Determine the purpose of each new piece of furniture item being considered.

For example, comfort is a priority if the furniture is meant for relaxation, but it may not be a priority if the furniture is purely for aesthetic purposes. The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman is a good example of a comfortable piece meant for relaxation, whereas the Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair isn’t as comfortable but fits well in any room.

Knowing how the furniture will be used will also help you select the right materials to ensure the piece is durable and functional.

Shopping for furniture

To make the furniture selection process easier, it’s important to come prepared with certain items.

For instance, if you’re looking for occasional chairs to go with an existing sofa in the room, bring a cushion or fabric swatch from the sofa to help with matching colors.

It’s also helpful to bring swatches or samples of other elements in the room, like flooring or wall coverings, to ensure the desired furnishings will work with the other elements in the space.

When shopping for furniture, you must know the different materials used for wood and upholstered pieces.

Understanding quality, construction, and comfort is also beneficial in making informed decisions.

Considering these factors, you can confidently select furnishings that match your desired aesthetic and meet your client’s functional needs. 

Your client’s style preferences

Finally, understanding your client’s decorating style is key when selecting new furniture items. This information can be obtained during the initial consultation with the client.

Another option is to ask your client to browse interior decorating magazines to identify the type of furniture they want. You could leave them a few copies of Architectural Digest or Elle Decor to browse through.

Having a clear understanding of the client’s style preferences will help narrow down the types of furniture stores worth considering and streamline the selection process.

Selecting Furniture

Selecting Furniture

Going back to basics, furniture is a term used to describe movable objects that are intended to support various activities such as seating, sleeping, dining, and storage.

There are different types of furniture available that serve different functions and are made using various materials:

  • Case Goods
  • Upholstered Furniture
  • Soft Furnishings

Let’s explore each of these now…

Selecting Case Goods

Case goods, also known as hard goods, are furniture items made from wood, such as tables, chests, chairs, desks, dressers, and armoires.

These pieces can also be made from other “hard” materials such as plastic, brass, wrought iron, and other metals, as well as glass and marble for table tops.

When sourcing case goods for your client, there are various types of woods to choose from.

Hardwoods have a longer lifespan and refer to cherry, mahogany, maple, birch, and oak.

In comparison, softwoods refer to pine, cedar, and fir, and wood products such as plywood.

It’s essential to be familiar with the construction method used for the furniture and to be aware of its long-term durability.

Some things to look for when selecting well-constructed and durable furniture are:

  • How stable is the item? Apply some pressure on the edge of the furniture and observe if it wobbles or remains firm.
  • How are the different parts of the furniture connected? Check if a sturdy joint such as a dowel joint, a mortise and tenon joint, or a tongue and groove joint is used instead of a weak butt joint.
  • Does the pattern of the wood grain align properly where it should?
  • Do the drawers and doors of the furniture open and close smoothly without any obstructions?
  • Is the furniture piece finished elegantly? Check for any unevenness or flaws in the staining or painting of the furniture.
Selecting Upholstered Furniture

Selecting Upholstered Furniture

In addition to case goods, there are upholstered furniture items such as sofas, armchairs, and ottomans, using various materials such as fabric, leather, and vinyl.

These pieces of furniture are often made from wooden or metal frames for support and padded armrests, plush cushioning, and supportive backrests for comfort.

When choosing upholstered furniture, you can select a fabric from a wide range of materials.

Choosing a complementary fabric that fits well with the room’s overall design and your client’s style is essential.

Upholstered furniture comes in a variety of styles, from traditional to modern, and can be covered in a wide range of fabric types, from cotton and linen to velvet and leather.

Some upholstered furniture may also feature decorative elements such as tufting or intricate stitching.

Upholstered furniture can add warmth, comfort, and style to your client’s living space, regardless of the style or material used.

When choosing a fabric, the price doesn’t always reflect the quality or durability of the material. For example, some expensive fabrics, such as silk, are costly due to their difficulty in production but may not be durable.

On the other hand, fabrics like cotton and linen are tightly woven and more durable while less expensive than silk.

It is important to remember that fabrics used for upholstery are rated for their durability, so it’s a good idea to ask about the durability rating of available fabric choices.

Here’s a list of things to consider when shopping for upholstered furniture:

  • What factors should be considered when choosing the fabric for upholstered furniture?
  • Does the price of the fabric always reflect its quality and durability?
  • What should be considered for the fabric to feel comfortable to the touch?
  • What should be looked for in the construction of furniture?
  • How should the style and design of the furniture be selected?
  • What should be considered to ensure the furniture is the right size and proportion for the room?
  • How should the ease of maintenance of the fabric be considered?
  • What should be considered regarding the budget when selecting the fabric and furniture?

Always ensure the items you select for your clients are comfortable by having them try them out before purchasing.

This can be done by having the client lie on a sample mattress in-store or sit on a sofa to ensure they can relax comfortably while still feeling supported on the piece.

Having the client run their hand over the selected fabric is also essential to ensure it feels comfortable, neither rough nor soft.

Selecting Soft Furnishings

Selecting Soft Furnishings

Soft furnishings refer to items such as curtains, cushions, bedding, towels, and table linen.

When choosing soft furnishings to complement the interior, consider factors such as style, color, texture, and pattern.

These elements should harmonize with the other items in the room and fit with your client’s taste and style.

Soft furnishings can come in a wide variety of materials, including cotton, linen, silk, and synthetic fabrics.

When choosing fabrics, it’s important to consider the durability of the material and its ability to withstand wear and tear.

For example, a heavily used sofa may require a more durable fabric such as leather, while a decorative throw pillow may be made from a more delicate material such as silk.

Soft furnishings are often designed to add comfort and warmth to a room while also serving a practical purpose, such as providing privacy or reducing noise.

Curtains, for example, can be used to block out light and sound while also adding a decorative element to a room. We’ve got a full guide on window treatments if you’d like to learn more on the topic.

When selecting soft furnishings, it’s important to consider the size and scale of the item in relation to the room and other furnishings.

For example, a large, bulky cushion may overwhelm a small armchair, while a small throw pillow may look out of place on a large sofa.

It is worthwhile checking the care instructions for the soft furnishings. Items such as bedding and curtains may need to be washed or dry cleaned regularly, so choosing materials that are easy to care for and can withstand frequent washing is important.

Here are some questions to consider when selecting soft furnishings:

  • What factors should be considered when choosing the style and design of soft furnishings?
  • What materials are best suited for soft furnishings, and how should durability be considered?
  • What practical purposes can soft furnishings serve in a room, and how can they be used to add comfort and warmth?
  • How should the size and scale of soft furnishings be considered in relation to the room and other furnishings?
  • What should be considered when selecting soft furnishings that are easy to maintain and care for?

Other considerations when buying furniture

You must consider other factors before placing an order for furniture and furnishings, such as lead time, customization options, and shipping fees.

It’s essential to clarify the timeline for the furniture delivery and any other specific instructions regarding the ordering process to ensure they tie in with your deadlines and client’s requirements. This will help ensure the delivery of the furniture is smooth. 

Return policies are equally crucial when ordering furniture and furnishings. Your clients may be hesitant to make a significant investment in furniture if they’re uncertain about the possibility of returning it.

It’s crucial to understand the return policies of the furniture store, including the conditions for returning the furniture, the time limit for returns, and any fees that may be involved in returning it.

Additionally, warranties are another essential consideration to ensure your clients feel confident in their purchase.

Warranties can vary, depending on the furniture store and the type of furniture. For example, some warranties may cover manufacturing defects, while others may cover damage during shipping or normal wear and tear.

Make sure you are familiar with the warranty offered by the furniture store and communicate it clearly to your clients.

By enquiring about ordering, return policies, and warranties, you can provide your clients with a more comprehensive understanding of their purchase, which can ultimately lead to a happier customer and repeat business.

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