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Friday, January 29, 2010


I love the tips “How to Buy Furniture” that Grant K. Gibson shares in the “Designer Series” posted by Williams Sonoma Home. As a young designer, I am always looking to learn and learn more… Well, actually, what designer is not looking to learn every day? I bet you there are NONE! Designers, by nature, are curious people, who hold a “bug” that itches them all the time… at least the ones I’ve met! Anyway, I am here not to talk about bugs and who are the designers… I want to share with you the tips I’ve learned today from Grant!

Here it is what he advises:

Think long-term. When it comes to furniture, I always advise clients to buy classic pieces that will hold up over time, and to go for the best quality they can afford. It's worth it to invest in key items like a sofa or dining room table you'll have for years, and save on accessories, which are easier to swap out. I prefer neutral colors, which are less trendy. I've had clients who are crazy about orange or hot pink and ask for sofas in those colors, but I try to steer them toward a more subdued palette of which they are unlikely to tire. I love using pillows or throws as bright, pop accents, but a neutral base is so much more versatile.

Peek inside. The construction of a sofa or chair is really important. Look for details like solid wood frames and hand-finished springs, which will tell you that a piece weren’t mass produced. Cushions are such a personal preference. Some people love a really soft, all-down sofa, but I like a combination of foam and feathers. It's a bit more firm and even after a few years, won't look sloppy or lumpy.

Take your time. Furniture is expensive—don't buy it impulsively. Couples are usually different heights, so making sure that the height and pitch of a chair or sofa work for both people is key. Take advantage of companies that offer fabric samples and live with them for a bit before making your decision. Also, check the sizes of your doorways, hallways, and elevator if you live in an apartment, to ensure that whatever you're buying will fit into your house.

Get crafty. Before any major furniture purchase, I note the dimensions and use blue painter's tape (available at any hardware store) to block out where I think I'd like to put the piece. This can really help you visualize what the room is ultimately going to look like, and the tape peels off easily so you don't have to worry about damaging your floor. The same trick also works with sheets of newspaper, cut in the silhouette of the item you're considering.

Don't overdo it. A sofa is probably always going to be the largest piece in your living room or den, though you never want it to overpower your space. My living room is pretty tiny, so I chose a sofa with an English roll arm, which softens the entrance to the room. Since the arm is low to the ground you never feel like you're smacking into the side of the sofa when you walk in.

Bedford Sofa from Williams Sonoma Home

Make it work. It's not enough for a room to look pretty—it also has to function well. Put some thought into how you plan to use a room, which will dictate what kind and how much furniture you need to buy. Next to any sitting area, make sure you have enough reading lamps and tabletops for setting down drinks. I like furniture that can multitask, like a coffee table with an extra shelf on the bottom so you have a place to store things like books and a basket to hide your remote controls.

THANKS Grant and Williams Sonoma Home for sharing that with us!

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